'Strike Force' to target, dismantle organized crime of Bakken oil boom


State, local and federal law enforcement agents are teaming up to fight organized crime in North Dakota's Bakken region, where an oil boom has sparked a rise in criminal activity.

On Wednesday, the U.S. attorney in North Dakota, along with the state's attorney general, announced the formation of the Bakken Organized Crime Strike Force.

According to a press release, the group is made up of four separate task forces, with about 50 agents backed up by a team of prosecutors.

They'll be headquartered in Bismarck, Dickinson, Minot and Williston and will "coordinate their investigative efforts."

The strike force is targeting "all types of organized crime," including the drug and weapons trade, white-collar crimes, and human sex trafficking.

The ultimate goal, officials say, is the dismantling of such criminal networks in the Bakken region.

"This effort will assure citizens that we will always protect our residents, and tells criminals that they do not want to do business in North Dakota,” North Dakota Attorney General Wayne Stenehjem said.

Valley News Live notes the criminal activity is so rampant it's spread beyond the Bakken into other parts of the region, even reaching American Indian reservations.

“The strike force will take a regional approach to a regional problem," noted acting U.S. Attorney Chris Myers, who added that the team would be coordinating with Montana law enforcement.

To help make this possible, two Montana Division of Criminal Investigation agents will be sworn in as federal agents so they can work across state lines, the Forum writes.

The paper says the strike force relies on existing resources and that "no new money was earmarked" for the project.

With the oil boom-related rise in crime, the FBI recently announced it would build a new field office in Williston to deal with the problem. It's expected to open later this year, according to the agency.

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