Police found a large-scale, violent methamphetamine ring in Williston, N.D., a state long known for its small-town solitude, reports the Associated Press. They called themselves “The Family,” and were holed up in a few campers tucked behind an innocent-looking, white-frame house. One had an arsenal of 22 weapons. Seven pled guilty and went to prison. The oil boom in the Bakken shale fields has touched off an explosion of growth and wealth on the remote wind-swept prairie that has brought with it a dark side: a growing trade in meth, heroin, cocaine and marijuana. Small-town police forces have been struggling to keep pace.
In Watford City, N.D., police calls for service have multiplied almost 100 times in five years. County jails overflow on weekend nights. Local sheriffs no longer know every name and face on Main Street. Heroin is trafficked on isolated Indian reservations. Mexican cartels are making inroads in small-town America. Hard-core criminals are bringing in drugs from other states, sometimes concealing them in ingenious ways: liquid meth in windshield wiper reservoirs. “Organized drug dealers are smart,” says U.S. Attorney Tim Purdon. “They’re good businessmen. They go where the demand is and that’s what we’re seeing here.”