By: Red Pill | 07-23-2017 | News
Photo credit: Kurhan | Dreamstime

The New Texas Tea: Meth Surge Related To The Oil Boom

In the Texas oil fields which were once booming bastions of American success, its now become a haven for drugs and unemployment due to lower oil prices and fracking which has decreased production.

One man, Eddy Lozoya, says he never failed a drug test in the three years total in which he hauled water and sand across the West Texas oil patch, even though he used at least $200 a day in cocaine to keep his eyes open on the incredibly long days behind the wheel of a Kenworth T600 semi-truck.

Much like the rest of the employees in the region, Lozoya had to improvise and found ways to beat the tests and keep driving in the process while using drugs. While earning six figure salaries, they would consume large varieties of drugs to push themselves to their physical limits on trips between various drilling sites that could last 36 to 48 consecutive hours.

He says they would drive the 35-ton vehicles in a tight formation, while hitting their horns as some of the men would fall asleep at the wheel to keep them from veering off the road.

"We always had cocaine," he said. Lozoya, who's a recovering addict at only 23 years old, is among the several.thousands of oil field workers who fell into the mix of making large sums of money while growing bored and unfortunately in that line of work narcotics often accompany the energy booms to entertain and keep the workers going.

Texas says that drillers from every possible group have poured billions of dollars into the prolific Permian Basin this year in order to restore operations after a two year long oil bust that devastated the region.

For all the economic benefits of the industry's high-paying jobs, the oil rush is now once again bankrolling an expanding market for illegal drugs. Such is the game when it comes to this industry.

Local law enforcement officials say that drug trafficking has only grown as a result of the increased drug abuse and drug-related crimes have spiked in recent years, which for them is evidence that energy's boom-and-bust cycles have had enormous social consequences in West Texas.

Inside of a small Nazarene church deep in Midland, the once religious worship center has now been converted into a drug and alcohol addiction treatment center. Volunteers and rehabilitation specialists say that the number of people seeking help is on track to more than double from last year.

1,200 Americans been treated inside the doors of the Palmer Drug Abuse Program in the first six months of the year, one in five of them under 18 years old, with an astounding 95% of them being employees in the oil industry.

"We're losing a generation of children to drugs and alcohol," said Michele Savage, who's the longtime director of the program.

According to Lozoya, any drug you could possibly desire is easy to find here. He says that after an injury left him unable to drive commercial trucks, he found another lucrative trucking route, this time transporting narcotic pain medications and other drugs from his home state of California to West Texas.

In this part of Texas Lozoya says that dealers can sell cocaine, marijuana and opioids for two or three times the price in neighboring states because of not only the secluded location but the incredibly high wages where men and women can literally toss cash into a fireplace and it not affect them. Most of the workers are single and without family, so to them it's all fun and games.

"There's a lot of profit to be made out here because it's in such high demand," he said. "People want it here, and they'll pay anything for it."

For the rest of the nation a heroin epidemic seems to be plaguing the inner cities and suburbs, but the drug of choice in West Texas is methamphetamine, or crystal meth.

In fact the meth is almost a requirement for the men who work several days at a time straight, as it's a powerful stimulant which will keep them awake in the brutal Texas heat.

Mexican drug cartels, according to law enforcement officials, have a stranglehold on these regions, making hundreds of millions of. dollars annually from the additions of those in the industry.

An analysis of data from the Texas Department of Public Safety and the Houston oil field services company Baker Hughes found a strong correlation between the rise of drilling activity and the number of crystal meth seizures in the area surrounding the Permian Basin.

According to the report from 2009 and 2016, as oil companies began to dispatch more rigs into West Texas, the number of meth seizures also increased simultaneously alongside the growth.

Just on one oil rig, there was an average of 103 seizures related to the industry and in 2009 increased more than fivefold by 2014, which was the peak of the oil boom.

In the same period of time Texas State Troopers also say they saw meth seizures jump from 3 to 73, a 4,000 percent increase in the the many counties surrounding the Permian Basin.

A drug testing service in Odessa, CRS Diagnostic Service, say that the number of local workers who tested positive for methamphetamine in the first half of this year was more than three times higher than in the first half of 2009, which was right before the shale revolution took grasp.

"Meth is booming," said Craig Smith, a senior Vice President at from CRS Diagnostic Service. “The more that law enforcement tries to stop the more that seems to come in to prevent a drought in supply.”

Several decades ago the FBI says that biker gangs made methamphetamine from pseudoephedrine, which is a substance used in decongestants, and was inevitably outlawed to combat the biker gangs profit margins.

Now, the methamphetamine is largely controlled by the dangerous Mexican Cartels, which use various other scientific processes to make ‘ice’, or potent methamphetamine in large quantities and bring it into America.

They distribute into the US in places like Phoenix and Dallas before it reaches high-demand markets in West Texas, said Will Glaspy, special agent in charge of the Drug Enforcement Agency's El Paso division. They use stash houses in the area to spread out their supply so if one is raided it's not a total loss.

"Oil field workers are big consumers of methamphetamine," Glaspy said. "The Mexican cartels are the biggest sources of supply."

Across the West Texas and New Mexico counties that surround the Permian Basin, the Dea claims they have seized 2,200 pounds of meth since October 2015, which is triple the amount confiscated in between October 2011 and September 2013.

Last year alone, the federal agency seized 66 pounds of methamphetamine in the Midland area itself which compared with 11 pounds in 2012.

"When the oil price is up, there's more methamphetamine in our entire community," said Steve Thomason, executive director at the Springboard Center, an alcohol and drug treatment facility in Midland. It's not uncommon, he said, to see a young oil field worker "roll up to outpatient treatment in a Corvette."

In the first six months of 2017, more than 1,000 people working or applying for jobs in the oil-producing business failed urine-based drug tests, which is double the failures of last year, according to Houston-based DISA Global Solutions, which is the largest provider of drug-testing policies to United States oil producers.

While hair follicle tests are more effective, not all facilities use them due to the fact that even most now sober oil field workers have used meth at some point, and these tests are able to detect several years prior usage.

The failures have jumped to more than 4,600 over the past 18 months, tripling the number in the two years from 2009 to 2010; and the number of people testing positive for methamphetamine jumped five times.

Various oil field contractors and the largest of the big oil producers said they have adopted tougher drug-testing policies in recent years to combat the growing drug usage.

For example a Houston oil producer, Apache Corp, conducts their own pre-employment, post-accident, reasonable suspicion, and random drug tests. If an employee or contractor fails a test, he could face termination from his position.

"We are vigilant about ensuring a drug-free culture," said Castlen Kennedy, a spokeswoman at Apache.

Substance abuse specialists however believe drug-test failure numbers simply underestimate the number of oil field workers who abuse drugs. Traces of methamphetamine, for example, are able to stay in a person's system for only few days, making it harder for these companies catch meth abusers.

Several of the recovering drug addicts said managers in the oil patch tip off crews to a random drug test several days before it takes place in order to not lose their skilled workers on a crew, and some to dodge fines by regulators by smaller companies.

"There's a million and one ways to beat the drug tests," said Patrice Owens, Director of the Greenhouse Outpatient Center, which is an Arlington addiction treatment facility. "If people want to use drugs, there's always a way."

Even if they get caught using drugs, oil field workers oftentimes end up still working on the oil patch with just a slap on the wrist. For the seven years that Cody Watson worked as an oil field electrician, he says using meth and cocaine as was the normal since he was up for several days at a time when storms knocked out rig power lines.

He also agrees it wasn't hard to pass drug tests because managers gave him and his crew plenty of advanced warning.

Watson recalls a time when he smashed his finger with a pipe and a drilling company fired him when he came up positive in a post-accident drug test. He says he then drove 18 hours across Texas for a job interview with another company. By purging his system with water to remove any trace of drug, he easily passed the pre-employment drug test.

"During the boom times, I could leave my job and there'd be plenty of places to work," said Watson, now a 41 year old recovering addict. "A lot of these guys hop from one rig to another. It's a never-ending cycle."

Kevin Tyson, a 55 year old recovering addict himself says that he remembers fellow rig workers tying a syringe filled with meth to a machine that pulls pipe out of the earth, then running it up to the derrickhand 90 feet above the rig floor, so someone up top could get his fix.

Meth kept Tyson working and partying for years, he says. They'd go on binges for days as if it wasn't an issue at all. Everyone was doing it in his time he says.

Once, he missed a pipe he was supposed to catch. It swung right past him across the rig floor. Another guy smashed a coworker's hand with a sledgehammer. Some would die in oilfield accidents, car wrecks or from overdoses. "Oh well," he said, "just keep going."

He said he hit rock bottom when he was down to 70-something and arrived at a hospital in Lubbock, where he spent a month in an intensive care unit. One doctor said if he used meth again, he would die.

Four months after his release, he got bored, called his buddy and started shooting meth again, with the imminent looming fate not being enough of a reason to stop.

"I knew I was going to die," said Tyson, who had worked in oil patch for 16 years before he began his recovery in November 2001, at age 39. "But I just figured, let's have a good hard run."

The rules have changed since Tyson began his career though, as companies have cracked down on the public drug use which was once commonplace.

However the hard knocks of the roustabouts, mechanics, truckers and rig hands who work long hours under extreme conditions and find ways to beat the tests. And sometimes, it drives them to the breaking point.

In early April one man, Robert Orosco Jr., put a gun in his mouth and pulled the trigger. The 34 year old had lost everything he owned to his relapse with Xanax, which is a highly addictive medication for typically prescribed for anxiety, but for oil workers it's given for their cocaine abuse to counter the addiction.

His wife had left him. He lost his house. He lost his job as an oil-equipment salesman. In every scenario he played out in his head, his six children were better off without him. The gun didn't fire though, and he survived.

Orosco then entered a treatment facility the next day. Today, after being a few months sober, Orosco is building a new company that offers drone imaging to oil companies to identify leaks and assemble 3D maps of the earth's surface.

"The boom brings the good and the bad," Orosco said. "There's so much here."

Last month, Lozoya, the former oilfield trucker, found a job at a local department store selling women's shoes for $13 an hour, plus commission.

He remembers his days as a 19 year old earning paychecks that were five times larger than the average American his age makes and how he blew it all to feed a habit that eventually cost $500 to $1,000 a day.

Most Americans couldn't imagine spending that much cash in a day let alone on drugs, but for those in the oil fields is common.

He says his downward spiral of addiction cost him his job and led him to steal RVs, dirt bikes and even copper from the oil field to feed his habit.

Several times, he nearly overdosed and died, and ultimately he sought help at a treatment center after his girlfriend and others persuaded him to get clean and turn his life around.

Today, he likes getting dressed up for work, with a suit, tie and well-groomed hair. He hopes to pursue a college degree and, perhaps one day, have his own clothing line.

He says at least the next few months, he plans to heed the advice his counselors gave him: Don't go back to the oil patch.

"I don't see myself being able to work 100 hours a week sober," he said. "The oil field is tough."

Such is the tell of the tale for most in this line of work in Texas, where drugs are as common as the black gold they're drilling for.


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2 Comment/s
Anonymous No. 5555 2017-07-23 : 23:29

This is what makes America great. American men willing to do what it takes to complete the job.

Anonymous No. 5556 2017-07-23 : 23:31

And all made and sold to you courtesy of your friendly nieghbourhood aryan race, white supremacist, far right groups. Don't say they never do anything for you, sieg heil.

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