D.E.A. Wages Battle Against Drug Smugglers in Midland/Odessa Area

By Camaron Abundes   
NewsWest 9

MIDLAND- It's no secret the Midland/Odessa area is one of the first stops on the way up from Ojinaga, Mexico. Local Drug Enforcement Administration spokesperson Dante Sorianello says because of the location it's not only a strategic location for drug smugglers, but it's a strategic location for law enforcement agencies.

"Our enforcement efforts here are very key to arresting and disrupting the members of the cells involved in the sale of illegal narcotics," Sorianello said.

The strategy is simple: make arrests and stop drug smugglers using the area as a staging ground or distribution area. The DEA along with other local, state, and federal law enforcement agencies continue to put federal dollars to use. The HIDTA or High Intensity Drug Trafficking Area Task Force has made 45 arrests and conducted 28 drug investigations since August.

"We are the first major cities these major organizations can hit," Sorianello said drug runners are flexible and if they face resistance at the border in Juarez, Mexico they may begin to move more drugs through Ojinaga, Mexico and up through the Midland/Odessa area. "If they are being pressured in one area they will move to an area where they have less pressure and ideally we will be ready if not ahead of them."

In Midland County, Sheriff Gary Painter says they've seen an influx of cocaine over the last six months.

"We're within 250 miles of the border with Mexico so that puts us in a strategic location to distribute right out of our backdoor so to speak," Midland County Sheriff Gary Painter, said.