DEA Receives Federal Funding to Fight Illegal Drugs in the Permian Basin

By Camaron Abundes  
NewsWest 9

PERMIAN BASIN- The Midland Resident office of the United States Department of Justice Drug Enforcement Administration is teaming up with county, city, and state law enforcement agencies to tackle drug trafficking in West Texas and they're getting extra funding to do it.

"The Midland and Ector County areas are trans-shipment areas," Dante Sorianello, Resident Agent in Charge of the Midland Resident Office, said.

Back in February, Midland County and Ector County were dubbed High Intensity Drug Trafficking Areas (HITDA). The funding finally arrived and will give the DEA $200 thousand dollars for 2008 and 2009 to spend on overtime and other resources to fight the problem. While Sorianello says the dubious distinction is a good thing.

"[There are] Organizations that collect the smuggled narcotics in the area and ship them throughout the United States," he said, "So it's really good news we're getting additional funding and resources."

They're not adding staff but building the task force with the police, troopers, deputies, and agents already patrolling the streets.

"The HIDTA will almost double the size of our investigators," Sorianello said, "I think it will have long term far reaching effects."

The DEA will handle the day-to-day operations of the HIDTA task force, but Sorianello says it will be a true collaboration between law enforcement agencies in the Permian Basin.