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Meth 'Booming' in Oil Industry

The Houston Chronicle published an article entitled "Oil and drugs: A toxic mix" on July 31 that contained some rather startling statistics concerning drug abuse in the oil industry. According to the Chronicle, Odessa-based drug-testing company CRS Diagnostic Service found the number of local workers who tested positive for methamphetamine in the first half of 2017 was over three times higher than in the first half of 2009—shortly before the beginning of the so-called shale oil revolution. 

"Meth is booming," CRS Diagnostic Service senior vice president Craig Smith told the Chronicle. 

The Chronicle reported that Houston-based DISA Global Solutions, the largest provider of drug-testing policies to U.S. oil producers, said more than 1,000 people working or applying for jobs in the oil-producing business failed urine-based drug tests in the first six months of 2017—twice the pace of failures last year. Furthermore, the number of industry workers failing hair follicle tests tripled the number in the two years from 2009 to 2010 and the number of people testing positive for methamphetamine jumped five times. 

The Chronicle noted that substance abuse specialists believe these drug-test failure figures "grossly underestimate" the actual number of workers who are abusing drugs. "Several recovering drug addicts said managers in the oil patch tip off crews to a random drug test several days before it takes place, some to dodge fines by regulators, others to avoid having to hire new workers," the Chronicle reported. 

While oil workers may be able to keep jobs despite failed tests, drug possession can present other problems. The Chronicle pointed out that an analysis of data from the Texas Department of Public Safety and 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"—more specifically a sharp increase in the number of meth seizures.

Houston Meth Possession Defense Attorney

Possession of any amount of methamphetamine is a felony offense in Texas. People convicted of methamphetamine crimes can be sentenced to lengthy terms of imprisonment and ordered to pay very large fines. 

Law enforcement agencies near oil rigs are well aware of the penchant many workers have for controlled substances, and routine traffic stops often lead to searches of vehicles. It is important for all people—not just oil workers—to understand that they have the right to refuse to consent to any searches of their motor vehicles. 

The alleged odor or marijuana (or some other form of prohibited contraband) is one very common justification police officers provide for conducting searches without consent. In such cases, evidence of an illegal drug does provide for probable cause and allows authorities to conduct searches without consent. 

If you or a loved one is suffering from addiction to methamphetamine, please call Horak Law or a licensed health care professional as soon as possible to get information for help and treatment. 

If you were arrested for meth possession or any other kind of illegal drug crime in the greater Harris County area, you will want to have legal counsel review every aspect of your arrest to determine whether your constitutional rights were violated. Houston criminal defense lawyer Matt Horak can fight to possibly get your criminal charges reduced or dismissed.

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Matt Horak Matt Horak is Board Certified in Criminal Law by the Texas Board of Legal Specialization since 2014