New Task Force Comes to the Permian Basin

by Victor Lopez
NewsWest 9

PERMIAN BASIN--Oil companies aren't the only ones benefiting from the recent oil boom.

FBI Special Agent, Matt Espenshade explained the purpose for setting up the Oil Field Theft Task Force, "The purpose of the task force wil be to look, from a strategic level, at specific organizations, who are organizing theft of oil field equipment and product.  We will be looking to counter those groups in a very organized approach of investigation."

Pump jack, tank batteries and drilling units are common in the Permian Basin.  But we're also seeing something else.  Locked gates at the roads to these sites. All of these, serving as possible deterents to people who may be look to drill for more than just oil.

According to Espenshade, "We've identified some fencing operations, where people will go and take the stolen equipment.  That equipment is either refurbished or sold right back out the door to a group that may have even put in an order for that particular piece of equipment."

This pilot program is made up of Andrews, Ector, and Midland counties, as well as the FBI and the Texas Rangers.  But acording to Midland County Sheriff's Chief Deputy, Ed Krevit, they  aren't the only ones who will benefit.

"The officers that are assigned to the task force will have federal jurisdiction, so they will be able to work cases anywhere in the Permian Basin also including the three oil producing Counties in the state of New Mexico."

Krevit says there are great expectations for this task force, "We hope to see more apprehensions, more recovery of property."

But he adds it doesn't just stop with arrests, "We have commitments from the US Attorney's Office also our local prosecutor here, that they will be aggressive in prosecuting these types of crimes.  So we hope to see a reduction in the overall crime in the oil field."

Officials say they hope to have the task force up and running by this summer.