Murder on the Pipelines: Drug Cartels Turn Texas Oil Routes into Killing Zones

Joe Carroll, Businessweek, July 23, 2014

Linda Vickers fed her horses and was walking back to her house on a secluded Texas ranch when she saw her German shepherds tussling over what looked like a sun-bleached volleyball. When she got close enough to scatter the dogs, her stomach turned: Their toy was a human skull with a shock of red hair, its flesh and lower jaw missing.

What was left of the dead woman lay just yards from Vickers’s front door, obscured by thick stands of oak and mesquite on the 1,000-acre MV Ranch, about 75 miles north of the Mexican border. The victim’s name, home, and intended destination remain mysteries, but two things are certain. She died violently: Her shinbone couldn’t have been fractured naturally in such soft, sandy soil. And she was traversing one of the oil pipeline rights of way that Mexico’s drug cartels have turned into smuggling highways and killing grounds. “Somebody beat her up and left her to die,” says Michael Vickers, Linda’s husband.

The Vickers ranch is crossed by a steel pipe as thick as a man’s calf. It delivers crude oil from a cluster of south Texas oilfields known as the Vicksburg Fault Zone to refineries in the subtropical waterfront city of Corpus Christi. Like thousands of miles of similar pipelines sprawling across the U.S. Southwest, it has been seized upon by traffickers and smugglers as a good way to evade police and the Border Patrol agents who watch the state highways.

These corridors are unmonitored because they stretch across thousands of acres of private property, and law enforcement authorities don’t have the resources to patrol them. This makes them ideal execution sites for errant couriers, business rivals, informers, and unwitting migrants who stray into the wrong place at the wrong time.

The Border Patrol finds an average of one corpse a day in the badlands near the U.S.-Mexico border; in the past 15 years, the toll has reached 5,570, exceeding all U.S. combat deaths for the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan combined. While the Border Patrol says it doesn’t break out what proportion of the dead have met their end along the pipeline trails, anecdotal evidence suggests the figure is high. Authorities say beatings, kidnappings, and rapes are rising as pipeline networks expand and new conduits are installed to handle surging oil and gas output from the Eagle Ford, the largest shale oil formation in the U.S.

The mayhem is about to get worse, according to the Border Patrol, now that Mexico has opened its energy industry for the first time in 75 years. Chevron (CVX) declared its intent to drill for Mexican oil in May, when it disclosed talks with the national oil company, Petróleos Mexicanos, or Pemex. Less than four weeks later, Pemex Chief of Staff Carlos Roa said lawmakers were close to finalizing rules governing foreign ventures that are expected to pump $30 billion annually into new wells, pipelines, and processing plants. Many of those pipes will carry Mexican oil to U.S. refining centers and ports such as Corpus Christi and Houston, at the same time creating an ever-widening matrix of black market trade routes.

State laws require pipe operators to clear wide paths through the vegetation, allowing aerial inspections and letting work crews reach damaged lines quickly in the event of an explosion. Some pipes are owned by companies that lease space on them to oil producers, and others are directly owned by the energy explorers. The pipes are generally underground, but the paths atop them can be more than 100 feet wide.

In south Texas, such rights of way often present smugglers with the only easy byways through snake-infested, thorny bushes and razor-sharp grasses. The footpaths are too vast for either the pipeline owners or border agents to monitor constantly. And ranchers have learned that fences pose no deterrent.

For Michael Vickers, a 64-year-old veterinarian, the wave of violence has been overwhelming. In the past two years, 216 corpses have been found near the pipeline pathways within a 15-minute drive of his doorstep. It’s certain that many more haven’t been found: The wild, unforgiving terrain and fauna hide much evidence. “The wild hogs gobble up a lot,” he says.


Less than 100 yards from where a pipeline right of way passes near the main gate of the family’s property, Michael Vickers finds a “crawl hole” under the fence. Smugglers and immigrant guides have learned that the top of his galvanized metal fence is electrified, so they go underneath it. A further 20 feet along the fence line, someone has chopped a 3-foot-by-2-foot passage, just the right size for squeezing through while backpacking 80-pound bales of marijuana. Ribbons of torn cloth are tied to the fence at various points–marking a trail for allied smugglers.

Some people traverse these routes without malice. Still, it’s usually impossible to discern mild-mannered migrants heading to Houston and points north from the hired guns hauling anything from cocaine to marijuana to methamphetamine. In any case, no one comes this way without explicit permission from–and having paid a fee to–the cartels.


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  • Dave West

    Oh goodie, of all he countries that we could have been neighbors with and we got Mexico!

    • SentryattheGate

      Exactly; the richest country bordered by one of the poorest (and most corrupt)! But that hasn’t stopped their birthrate; Mexico quadrupled her population between 1950 & 2000, while the US didn’t even double, including all the immigrants we took in!

      • ejXinMI

        The real estate of Mexico is perfectly fine. In my opinion, for natural resources and climate, it is about as blessed as California. The semi-retarded inhabitants, on the other hand, would not prosper even if they lived in the Garden of Eden.
        Our witless President ObeyMe should have requested $3.5 billion from the Mexican government to fund the care, and return transport of illegals– leave American taxpayers out of it.
        Menacingly, and with a snarl, the U.S. should demand reparations from the Mexican government for our past costs of caring for their citizens. When they refuse to pay, they should be offered the opportunity to become a U.S. Territory (without voting rights, citizenship, representation, or freedom to enter the U.S. of course).
        Mexico needs a severe attitude adjustment.

        • SentryattheGate

          Bravo! Good points, well said!

        • Zaporizhian Sich

          What they deserve is to reap the whirlwind they’ve started.

      • DonReynolds

        Mexico is far from one of the poorest countries. Mex workers make about $50 bucks a week, in a factory job.
        Compare that to $50 bucks a MONTH in China…..or $38 bucks a MONTH in sunny Vietnam.

        • SentryattheGate

          Yeah you’re right; what I should have said was US bordering Mexico is the biggest contrast in the world, with the average Mexican earning ~1/10th the income of an average American. But we keep going downhill economically!

          • DonReynolds

            I have no direct experience, but I do have it on good authority, that when dung and ice cream are mixed…..the result is not good tasting dung……only bad tasting ice cream.

    • NoMosqueHere

      Mexico isn’t the problem because good fences make good neighbors. American whites helped elected a third world muslim president — that’s the real problem.

    • slash345

      Better than Iraq IMO…

      I still say we got the better end of the deal compared to Europe. They get muslims and blacks. *vomit*

    • Lt. Greyman, NVA

      Imagine if we had gotten Ukraine! God those women! Men would be at the border offering to snuggle…I mean smuggle…ladies across and make them pregnant….I mean permanent…citizens!

  • D.B. Cooper

    So, this is what you people want, huh?

    • That’s funny!

    • propagandaoftruth

      He really needs to wear those glasses more.

    • JohnEngelman

      Rick Perry’s mistake of forgetting the third government agency he would eliminate was hilarious. It also went to the heart of Republican dissimulation about cutting the size of government. Republican politicians know that most Americans favor less government in theory, but that there is little support for cutting specific programs.

      • 1G25

        His being on pain pills from very recent back surgery at the time must have given you a chuckle, too.

      • I would like to nominate the Rural Electrification Program for termination. Rural America already has electricity.

        Colorado already requires community service work for food stamp recipients. I would like this applied nationwide. This means sorting donations at Goodwill stores, mopping floors at other charities, or picking up litter at roadsides.

        All foreign aid should be cut off immediately, except for Iraq, which the US government maliciously wrecked. The way I see it, if we make a mess, we should clean it up.

        HUD needs to be abolished, as does the Department of Education. We had the best educated kids in the world before we had a Department of Education; now we are a laughing stock.

        Is this a useful start?

        • Whitetrashgang

          Who in the US needs food stamps most Americans are fat or obese. Half of blacks and illegal aliens are on welfare make them fight forrest fires or fix roads or something.

          • JohnEngelman

            During the New Deal the Civilian Conservation Corps did stuff like that.

          • Katherine McChesney

            We need to reorganize CCC camps. My father was in a CCC camp and helped to build Montgomery Bell State Park when Amren conferences are held.

          • DonReynolds

            The dollar amount of food stamps should be adjusted downward for the obese. Twice the normal weight, for your height, age, and build? OK……you get half the food stamp amount. This is easy.
            Same deal in school. Worried about the fat kids?….cut their calories. The rest of the kids do not need intervention.

        • JohnEngelman

          In his book, “The Triumph of Politics: How the Reagan Revolution Failed,” David Stockman, who was Reagan’s Director of the Office of Management and Budget, wrote that when he tried to terminate the Rural Electrification Program, Republicans in Congress prevented him.

          In his book David Stockman said that it was never possible to raise defense spending, cut taxes, and balance the budget without making cuts in domestic spending most Republican voters would have opposed. These would have included an end to farm and business subsidies, and deep cuts in military pensions, Veterans’ Administration hospitals, Social Security, and Medicare.

          In other words, President Reagan’s economic policy was intrinsically fraudulent. Nevertheless, Republicans continue to pretend that we can cut taxes and balance the budget by making painless, unspecified spending cuts.

        • John

          Don’t stop there. As Ron Paul advocated in both his Presidential campaigns, getting rid of the Fed and the IRS would be of enormous help. It would no doubt result in a massive economic growth surge such as not seen since 1930s Germany.

        • DonReynolds

          Not a problem, Michael Scott…..the Obama White House has already provided useful definitions of “work” for the welfare check.
          Bed rest is now considered “work”… is reading an inspirational book…..or helping a relative or neighbor with household chores. Heck they have a long list of what constitutes “work” in this country.

  • Hal K

    What a disgrace. This is what becomes of proposition nations. Whites had better wake up.

    • D.B. Cooper

      Some good old fashioned knock out games will wake ’em up. The rest will need some unemployment.

      • Hal K

        If a white liberal becomes a mainstream conservative as a result of being a victim of the knockout game it will do little good for our cause. What is needed is for white mainstream conservatives to become consciously pro-white. This is difficult because essentially all of the mainstream conservative pundits are telling them not to go there.

  • rose tascher

    This means the coyotes will get bigger and stronger eating the bodies and will soon begin killing ranch animals and attacking people. Are there raccoons in Texas? Raccoons will eat any trash lying around.

    • I think the wild mexican animals are the more serious
      problem other than the indigenous 4 legged species .

    • propagandaoftruth

      Sounds like a good spot to do some cadaver research.

      • What’s the best bullet placement to make cadavers?

        • propagandaoftruth

          The effects on decomposition of a lifetime of spicy food consumption?

          • QS-Q

            Supposedly lots of preservatives in processed food makes Americans rot slower. I would think a diet rich in garlic or onions might slow decomposition slightly but I would have no idea what Cilantro would do, aside from making the bodies less appealing to scavengers

          • Alexandra1973

            Cilantro chelates mercury, good for detoxing…I used that and chlorella to detox my son. Seems to work.

    • slash345

      Yeah lots of racoons, but that’s in the greener parts of texas.

      Along the southern border is mostly rats, rattle snakes and various species of deer. And coyotes of course.

    • DonReynolds

      Plenty of raccoons in the hill country. They are related to the cat.

  • Zaporizhian Sich

    Imagine the state of fear white residents of the area must be living with. I wouldn’t be going anywhere out there unarmed given how these invaders will not think twice about murdering landowners or the families. Indeed, they have killed entire families along the border for the purpose of using their land to smuggle drugs, illegals, weapons and who knows what else.

    • propagandaoftruth

      Wonder if they’ve ever found anything like this?

      • iberianpride

        You got to to be kidding, Is this real?

        • Sick of it

          It’s from Breaking Bad. An awesome scene and an awesome show.

          • Katherine McChesney

            Danny Trejo’s ‘head’.

      • Garrett Brown

        That poor tortoise :,(

  • Maxwell Smart

    How’s that war on drugs working out?

    • Adolf Verloc

      Bingo. Legalize drugs for addicts and the colossal wealth of the cartels will evaporate. I have seen some of the horrible things drugs can do to people, but legalization is the least bad solution.

      • NoMosqueHere

        Were drugs legalized, do you think black’n’brown criminals, including mexican drug pushers, would get straight, honest jobs? More likely, they would increase their kidnapping, extortion, illegal arms shipment, and god knows what other nefarious businesses.

        The genie of third world criminal business is out the bottle. The only solution is a real fence on the US southern border, a 20 year moratorium on legal immigration, and a serious crackdown on illegal immigration. Also, we need to address the problem of black criminality in the US.

      • 1G25

        The best solution would be to gather all the tons of drugs in police custody, lace them with strychnine, and distribute them all over America.

        Might put a dent in demand, until the next time, after which, repeat.

        • DonReynolds

          Spraying the Mexican pot fields with paraquat worked rather well… well in fact that the Mex demanded that the paraquat have red dye added, so they would not bother to harvest the sprayed fields. Should have told them to take a flying screw at the moon and kept spraying the fields…..without the red dye.

          • Zaporizhian Sich

            Why not spray them with a herbicide that lays waste to everything?

      • jayvbellis

        Please take your race denying Libertarian nonsense somewhere else. We’re suffering an all out invasion by Mayan, Aztek, Orks and you idiot Libertarians want to talk, talk, talk about letting everyone including the Orks do what they want to do. Please go take your race denying a Libertarian nonsense to…


    • Bob

      Even without drugs, these criminality-prone savages will commit similar crimes. They are incorrigible barbarians that can not be corrected with conventional means. The solution is a Great Wall of America – not a tweaking of our drug laws.

  • Einsatzgrenadier

    It looks like those mestizo drug cartels from Mexico are culturally enriching Texas with their wonderful diversity. The multiculturalists are patting themselves on the back for a job well done as they move as far away as possible from the invading brown hordes and the third world misery they bring.

    • AndrewInterrupted

      The drug cartels have setup shop in every major U.S. city, thanks to their Chicago thug brothers and sisters.

  • Sick of it

    Rig a nice surprise at the tunnel entrances if you know where they are.

    • Wholly Unconvinced

      I was just thinking of that, given the crawling required to get under the fence, it would be worthwhile to take a nice piece of plywood, cut to fit, and with notches cut away in order to place a hundred or so razor blades, blade up. Then merely cover them with Saran wrap, place it in the hole, and sprinkle some of the dirt across the top, making it invisible.

      It’s likely the first cartel trafficker who started crawling underneath wouldnt have much in the way of hands left, and his screaming might even be loud enough to alert border patrol, meaning his buddies would likely put a bullet in the back of his head to silence him.

      Great idea all around.

  • Alexandra1973

    Soylent Green….

    (I kid, I kid)

    • propagandaoftruth

      Soylent brown.

  • dd121

    It’s journalistic malpractice for the msm to avoid reporting this.

  • AndrewInterrupted

    And this will be coming to an America near you, post amnesty.

    The greaseritos know one thing: the only chance–though slim–of getting deported is after committing a crime in the U.S.

    Mr. Greaserito is “playing nice”–for now. Come amnesty, Katy bar the door!

  • hastings88

    The USA is not a First World country anymore.

  • MissaJim

    Amazing how the US can secure the border between North and South Korea but can’t even begin to do the same with Mexico. It’s all about will. The republicrats won’t cheap labor and voters. Meanwhile, the people who still work continue to get screwed.

  • Alucard_the_last

    The left won’t be happy until the US is just like Mexico.

  • rebelcelt

    I dunno, it matters how hard they were hit in the head.

  • Zaporizhian Sich

    Indeed, if they are eating human remains, eating wild hogs is NOT a good idea! There’s a human form of mad cow in the human population already.

    • You wouldn’t get that from pigs. Pigs and dogs are natural scavengers and are immune to prion diseases. Sorry, Muslims.

      • Zaporizhian Sich

        No, but most infectious human and animal diseases are zoonotic in origin, meaning a virus or bacterium, if not a rogue protein jumps from one species to another. The new host lacks the ability to fight off the new invader, causing sickness and death. Pigs and humans are very close biologically, that is why pigs are used in medical studies. They can transmit human diseases to people, and they are mixing vessels for new and deadly human diseases, not just flu.

  • Zaporizhian Sich

    Even more so for someone foolish enough to cut it. When cut it whips around violently, with lethal consequences for the one cutting it.

  • DonReynolds

    Leave them where you find them.
    Buzzards have a right to eat…..same as worms.

  • DonReynolds

    In the end, it will be volunteers who stop the invasion…..not the Federal government.

  • propagandaoftruth

    Oooh! The rape tree!

  • Christine Schaeffer

    And what has the government of Mexico done with the trillions of our taxpayers dollars that have been sent over in foreign aid that was intended to build up their infrastructure and help boost their economy? That money was supposed to help Mexico build up factories, mining facilities, airports, schools, etc. and etc. to help provide their own people with jobs and modern amenities.

  • Wow! 216 corpses found within a 15 minute drive of Mr. Vickers’ house in two years? That’s two new dead ones every week!

  • Mancave Heywood

    I tell you that if I owned property out that way and caught people like that on my land, they would never find the bodies and those beaners would get the message!