by Victor Lopez
PERMIAN BASIN - At one time, it's all you heard, people getting arrested, and another meth lab getting busted.
According to FBI Agent Matt Espenshade, "We had identified that there had been several drug trafficking organizations, gangs, who were responsible for trafficking narcotics in and around the Permian Basin. About three years ago, we started the West Texas Major Offender Task Force in order to address those gangs that were involved in violent activities and drug trafficking from an organizational perspective."
According Espenshade, meth activity in the Permian Basin has gone down, since they zeroed in on what is considered a violent prision gang, the Aryan Circle, "After taking down that organization we saw a large decrease in the number of methanphetamine labs that were actually being intercepted here in the Permian Basin."
In all, 29 people were tried, convicted, and sentenced to prison terms, having a postive effect on meth production, but not necesarily on distribution.
"We've definitely seen a decrease in the amount of methanphetamine production here," Espenshade said. "I know that methanphetamine traffic is still a real problem, and we continue to address that as cases come up."
Focusing on groups like the Aryan Circle, is part of what WAMO is all about.
"That task force was set up to address violent gang activity within the Permian Basin. A lot of the violence comes back to the trafficking of narcotics," Espenshade said.
And the Aryan Circle had an almost perfect set up, "That particular group just had the ability to manufacture that particular drug and organization, and networking place to distribute that drug, and enough users that made it semi-profitable for them to do so." Espenshade told NewsWest 9.
Perfect, except for one thing. "Sadly enough, as much as what was being distributed, it really wasn't that much money that people were making, and the reason being, it's such an addictive drug that many of the people that were manufacturing and distributing were using."