After years of complaints by human rights and Native groups about escalating crime in the Bakken oil field region, the Federal Bureau of Investigation announced on November 14 that it will open a permanent office in Williston, North Dakota, its first since 2006.
Tribal advocates and others have long raised the alarm about the dangers posed by the influx of temporary workers to the Bakken oil field region of North Dakota. Combined with a lack of housing and law enforcement, the dramatic changes have brought crime such as human trafficking, drug activity and violence, especially against women, that are overwhelming local resources.
Of particular concern have been the so-called man camps, temporary housing developments housing workers. As the North Dakota oil region has gone from being a “sleepy and remote corner of America” to being an oil-boom-fueled hub of mostly unregulated human activity, “police have found themselves dealing with human and drug trafficking, organized crime and homicides,” the Associated Press reported.
While FBI satellite offices exist in Fargo, Grand Forks, Bismarck and Minot, they are far from the Bakken oil patch, AP pointed out. And local officials have been pleading for help.
"We aren't expecting them to come and save us from anything," Williams County Sherriff Scott Busching told AP. "We don't need saving; we need help.”
The measure was put forward by Senators John Hoeven and Heidi Heitkamp, AP reported. The office is slated to have four FBI agents, an analyst and clerical staff, Hoeven said. No opening date has been set, as the FBI seeks office space.
Until now, agents have rotated in for a few weeks here and there, but local officials say that isn’t enough.
"You send somebody over here for two weeks and we just learn their name and then they're gone," Busching told AP. "We got to the point where we saw no point in filling in some of these new guys because we knew they were going to be gone."