Task Force Develops Plan of Action in Basin Drug War

By: Sarah Snyder
NewsWest 9

The Mexican drug violence has played out center stage for months. It's caused national concern over our border safety and West Texas officials are on high alert. The Bishop's Drug Task Force met in Midland on Friday to listen to the latest information and discuss the battle that could get worse in the Permian Basin.

"We deal with it when we make traffic stops, when we handle domestic calls and disturbances, when we're back in the sheriff's offices or police departments, it's on the front line," Trooper John Barton with the Texas Department of Public Safety, said.

Officials say dealing with drugs is a daily battle and a billion dollar problem. The violence in Mexico makes headlines just about every day and officials with ICE, the Immigrations and Customs Enforcement, met with the Midland-Odessa Bishop's Task Force to develop a plan of action for West Texas.

Authorities say it's the smaller West Texas towns that often slip under the radar and state officials are hoping to intensify their patrol.

"They may only have one or two deputies there or they may not have a police force," Barton said. "It's more difficult for those individuals to get caught selling and distributing those drugs or even bringing them into the smaller counties."

The Midland Coalition tells NewsWest 9, the cost of fighting substance abuse in the Basin is huge.

"$12 billion to our state for alcohol and illegal drug abuse," Mitch Moore, with the Palmer Drug Abuse Program, said. "How many juvenile probation officers do we have on payroll? How many Child Protective Services officers do we have on payroll? What does it cost our emergency room for one crash? It's staggering to me, not just in dollars, but what about human life?"

The task force considered the "Communities That Care" program targeting kids and teens. The program is funded by United Way and takes a public health approach to handling substance abuse.