U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) is hiring contractors who can deploy hazardous waste contamination teams to two sites in Texas, to extract drug packages buried in toxic waste, according to Wired.
Cartels are moving drugs in tanker trucks containing various types of industrial hazardous waste, CBP says. The agency acknowledged its agents are not trained to safely extract the drugs and decontaminate them for use as evidence.
The waste includes drilling fluids, oil and wastewater from gas and oil wells. Wastewater from drilling wells may include benzene, which can cause leukemia and bone marrow disease, the article notes. It also includes calcium hydroxide powder, which can cause blindness if enough of the substance gets into the eyes.
The agency wants experts for two checkpoints about 70 miles north of the Texas-Mexico border. At the checkpoints, 18-wheel trucks are scanned by drive-through X-ray machines. If the scans find anything that looks like a drug shipment inside an industrial tanker truck, the contractors will use vacuum trucks that suck out hazardous chemicals. Contractors wearing protective suits and respirators will step inside the tanker and remove the drugs.
The hazardous waste will be taken to a disposal or recycling facility that is allowed to accept the material.
Because of increased Border Patrol enforcement in Arizona, drug cartels are increasingly looking to cross the border in remote parts of south Texas, Wired states. Cartels have stolen and copied trucks owned by energy companies in the area.