A large-scale Federal investigation that resulted in the arrest and sentencing of two men for conspiracy to possess with intent to distribute controlled substances revealed that the Environmental Protection Agency may now be largely involved in the United States’ war on drugs.
Federal law gives the EPA the power to investigate and prosecute “criminal conduct that threatens people’s health,” according to the agency’s Criminal Investigation Division section of its website.
The environmental agency evidently played a major role in a Federal investigation spanning from California to Idaho, Montana and South Dakota that led to the arrest of Tomas Alvarado and Eliseo Lopez Martinez, who were each sentenced for conspiracy to possess and distribute controlled substances including cocaine, methamphetamine and heroin.
This investigation was a part of Project Safe Bakken, which is a cooperative effort between the Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA); the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI); the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms, and Explosives (ATF); the Bureau of Indian Affairs (BIA); the U.S. Border Patrol; the U.S. Marshals Service; the Environmental Protection Agency Criminal Investigation Division (EPA-CID); the Department of Homeland Security (DHS); the Montana Division of Criminal Investigation (MDCI); the Montana Highway Patrol; the North Dakota Bureau of Criminal Investigation (BCI); the Billings Police Department; the Yellowstone County Sheriff’s Office; and the Idaho State Police.
Federal law enforcement agencies have billed Project Safe Bakken as a mission to aid law enforcement in dealing with an increase in crime associated with a major influx of workers on the Bakken Shale deposit, which occupies a 200,000 square mile area underlying parts of Montana, North Dakota, Saskatchewan and Manitoba.
A U.S. Attorney’s office official told Breitbart that the EPA was involved in the Bakken investigation, but provided few details.
“Yes the EPA is part of Operation Safe Bakken and that’s why they were credited in the press release we sent out.” The official said, adding, “This doesn’t necessarily mean they were part of this specific investigation, just that they are part of Operation Safe Bakken, and that operation led to this investigation.
But based on comments made U.S. Attorney Michael Cotter (which include no mention of an environmental component) at a recent press conference on the operation, the EPA’s involvement at any capacity would hint at the agency’s direct involvement in drug trafficking investigations.
“The long-term project’s purpose is to detect, disrupt, and dismantle drug trafficking organizations and criminal enterprises that are operating in the Bakken region of Montana and North Dakota,” he said.
Furthermore, an EPA official confirmed the agency’s “limited” involvement in the narcotics investigation.