On the federal radar

The rest of the nation is well-aware of the ongoing oil boom in western North Dakota, where jobs are plentiful and there is good money to be made. But the federal government is also keenly aware of the increasing drug problem associated with western North?Dakota, too.

The White House’s 2014 national drug control strategy report released this week mentions the Bakken region specifically, with the 102-page report including information about the growing threat from organized drug traffickers.

Unfortunately, North Dakota law enforcement officials and others were not surprised by the region’s inclusion in the report. U.S. Attorney Timothy Purdon told the Associated Press that drug crimes rose 20 percent from 2012 to 2013, and the number of federal criminal cases prosecuted jumped from 126 defendants to 336 in 2013.

Both Purdon and Attorney?General Wayne Stenehjem know full well the extent of the drug problems in western North Dakota, and that being part of the federal report could help secure more funds to combat the problem, specifically by boosting money to add more law enforcement officers and agents.

It’s not shocking to be included in the federal report, and it could serve as an eye-opener for residents who perhaps aren’t aware of the region’s growing drug issues, which is one of the unfortunate side effects of a fast-growing economy. Let’s hope being part of the report leads to additonal federal assistance.