Tester urges nation’s 2nd largest law enforcement agency to focus on Bakken crime

Senator highlights need for federal, state and local law enforcement to work together

(U.S. Senate) – As Sarah Saldaña takes the reigns at the nation’s second largest law enforcement agency, Senator Jon Tester is urging her to focus on stopping violent crime in the Bakken.

Tester told Saldaña, who was recently confirmed as Director of Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE), that while the Bakken oil boom has brought unprecedented economic opportunity to eastern Montana, arrests in the region have increased by 80 percent over recent years.

The Senator pointed out that coordination is needed between ICE and Montana law enforcement to investigate human trafficking cases and to care for human trafficking survivors.

“The shift of economic and population growth has also changed the nature of crime in the region, which are unlike any law enforcement have seen before,” Tester said. “Combating the scale of criminal activity in the region can only succeed through sturdy partnerships between state, local, tribal and federal officials, and ICE has an opportunity to play a leading role.”

ICE is one of the federal government’s primary investigators of human trafficking cases.

Tester in August held a field hearing in Poplar to discuss the growing threat of human trafficking in eastern Montana, particularly in Indian Country.

Tester also held a field hearing in Sidney last fall to examine infrastructure and law enforcement needs in the Bakken. During that hearing, he learned from federal, state and local law enforcement officials that additional resources were needed to fight increasingly violent and complex crimes in the region, and that some local jails are so crowded that inmates are forced to sleep on the floor.

Tester’s letter to ICE Director Sarah Saldaña is available online HERE.