Department of Justice
National Drug Intelligence Center
Office of Public Affairs
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
July 16, 2008
National Drug Intelligence Center (NDIC) Releases the Indian Country Drug Threat Assessment 2008
JOHNSTOWN, PA - The National Drug Intelligence Center (NDIC),
a component of the United States Department of Justice and the nation's
principal center for domestic strategic counter drug analysis, announced
the publication of the Indian Country Drug Threat Assessment
2008. The report is a comprehensive, strategic assessment of
the threat posed to Native American communities by drug trafficking
organizations, criminal groups, and gangs and the illicit drugs
they distribute on reservations throughout the United States. The
report examines the operations, capabilities, and vulnerabilities
of drug traffickers who exploit Indian Country and the difficulties
faced by federal, state, and tribal law enforcement officials in
combating drug trafficking in Native American communities.
NDIC prepared the assessment at the request of the Law Enforcement
Task Force of the Indian Affairs Executive Working Group of the
White House Domestic Policy Council. The report provides policymakers;
federal, state, and tribal law enforcement officials; and resource
planners with strategic intelligence regarding drug trafficking
and abuse in Indian Country.
Key Findings of the report are:
- The illicit drug threat to Indian Country varies geographically
across Native American communities. Overall, marijuana is the
most widely available illicit drug on reservations. Ice methamphetamine,
powder and crack cocaine, diverted pharmaceuticals, heroin,
and MDMA also are available and abused at various levels on
reservations throughout the United States.
- Most illicit drugs available throughout Indian Country are
transported to reservations by Native American criminal groups
and independent dealers who travel to nearby cities to purchase
illicit drugs, primarily from Mexican DTOs and criminal groups,
for distribution in their home communities.
- Mexican DTOs are the principal wholesale suppliers and producers
of illicit drugs available to reservations throughout Indian
Country and pose the greatest organizational threat to Native
American communities across the United States. Mexican DTOs
typically supply Native American traffickers with illicit drugs
for distribution on their reservations. Mexican DTOs also smuggle
significant quantities of marijuana, cocaine, methamphetamine,
and heroin from Mexico into the United States through reservations
that border Mexico.
- Canada-based Asian DTOs also pose an organizational threat
to Indian Country, particularly to reservations near the U.S.-Canada
border. These traffickers smuggle high-potency Canadian marijuana
and MDMA through northern reservations along or near the U.S.-Canada
- Native American DTOs and criminal groups are the principal
retail-level distributors of illicit drugs on reservations.
African American and Caucasian criminal groups and independent
dealers also engage in varying levels of drug distribution throughout
- National and local street gangs are increasingly distributing
retail-level quantities of illicit drugs on reservations; they
also are committing a host of gang-related criminal activities
in Native American communities to facilitate their distribution
operations, including intimidation, assault, and burglary.
- Drug production in Indian Country is limited; however, Mexican
DTOs are suspected of producing significant quantities of marijuana
from cannabis cultivated at outdoor grow sites in remote locations
on many reservations, particularly those in the Pacific Region.
Additionally, African American criminal groups convert powder
cocaine to crack cocaine on some reservations.
- Native American substance abuse levels are higher than those
for any other demographic group. American Indians and Alaska
Natives are more likely than any other racial group to report
past year drug abuse, according to the National Survey on Drug
Use and Health (NSDUH).
- The diversion of pharmaceutical drugs is an increasing concern
of law enforcement on some reservations in Indian Country.
- The widespread availability and abuse of illicit drugs coupled
with the formidable smuggling, transportation, and distribution
operations of multiple criminal groups and gangs operating in
Indian Country contribute to a wide range of violent and property
crime. Drug traffickers generally engage in violent and property
crimes to facilitate their drug trafficking operations. Native
American abusers typically commit property crimes to support
The report focuses on Native American reservations in the contiguous
48 states of the United States. In order to assess the current drug
situation in Indian Country, NDIC intelligence analysts visited
80 reservations throughout the country. In addition, NDIC conducted
interviews with federal, state, and tribal law enforcement officials
and analyzed federal, state, and tribal law enforcement reporting;
intelligence community reporting; open-source reporting; and data
provided by numerous agencies, including the Bureau of Indian Affairs
(BIA), the Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA), the Federal Bureau
of Investigation (FBI) Safe Trails Task Forces (STTFs), and Indian
Health Service (IHS).
A copy of the assessment
Indian Country Drug Threat Assessment 2008 can be found
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