Oilfield Crime Keeping Permian Basin Task Force Busy
MIDLAND, TX – Juan Carlos Rodriguez and Jose Rodriguez-Angeles were arrested at the beginning of the month after the pair were accused of stealing more than 600 barrels of oil from multiple companies in Andrews County, and selling them to disposal companies in New Mexico and Odessa.
The FBI is now involved as The Permian Basin Oilfield task force is investigating several allegations throughout the area.
Although these type of crimes are pretty common, especially when the price of oil is down, what makes things tricky is when the stolen goods are transported across county and state lines, and that's why the task force exists to bridge efforts between local agencies in order to crack down on these types of crimes.
"A lot of the oilfield theft in our region is regional, it's not just in one county; we've had it be as far as Oklahoma where the thieves were coming out of and heading back to," said Andrews County Sheriff Rusty Stewart.
If there's one thing all West Texans can agree on, it's how important it is to protect one of our most precious commodities, oil and gas.
"The energy sector drives the economy out here in the whole region so the importance of being able to address the criminal threats that impact the industry just can't be over stated," said Cory Richardson, Midland Supervisory Senior Resident agent with the FBI.
Business is always booming for the task force that focuses specifically on oil field crimes, especially since the price of oil recorded its historic drop back in May.
"When you have an oil bust we see business stay steady or maybe even increase a little bit because you have some folks that find themselves in a financial situation and they might resort to things that would be criminal in nature as opposed to earning an honest living," said Richardson.
The task force has proven to be a valuable asset for small counties in order to connect these crimes that happen to cross multiple county and state lines.
"Crane is a smaller department, it's nice to be able to reach out and get the assistance from the task force and neighboring counties, Ector County, Uptown County, Andrews County-we stay in contact but the task force brings everybody together," said Crane County Sheriff Andrew Aguilar.
Although the task force almost always has a full case load, for years they've been leading energy sector crime investigations in the Permian Basin for over a decade.
"Since they've been here they've been there every time we've needed something," said Stewart.
To keep the relationship consistent between the task force and smaller surrounding county agencies, the Ector County Sheriff's Office has a sheriff's deputy that works side-by-side with the FBI task force turning a wide spread region into a tight knit and secured community.
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