News Release
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
August 16, 2006

16 Individuals Charged with Federal Drug Crimes on the Salt River Pima-Maricopa Community
Results of a Joint Salt River Pima-Maricopa Indian Community Police Department and Federal Agency Undercover Investigation into Methamphetamine Dealing

United States Attorney Paul K. Charlton, Salt River Pima-Maricopa Indian Community President Joni Ramos, Salt River Police Dept. Chief of Police Stanley Kephart, and Special Agent in Charge Timothy Landrum, Drug Enforcement Administration, announce the federal charging of sixteen (16) individuals for the distribution and/or possession of methamphetamine on the Salt River Pima-Maricopa Indian Community adjacent to Scottsdale, Arizona. Speaking from the Indian Tribe’s Community Center, United States Attorney Paul K. Charlton and President Joni Ramos, accompanied by officials of the DEA, FBI, ATF, BIA and Officers of the Salt River Pima-Maricopa Indian Community announced that the arrests were the result of a seven-month joint undercover operation.

United States Attorney Paul K. Charlton stated “Like rural America, Indian Country is threatened by the introduction of methamphetamine into their communities. President Ramos should be commended in responding to this threat. Congratulations to the Salt River Pima-Maricopa Indian Community tribal, federal and local law enforcement agencies on a successful joint undercover effort that involved sincere cooperation and sophisticated means. Our job is not complete. We will continue to work toward eradicating this threat.”

“This joint project has been a significant step toward improving and protecting the lives of our Community members,” said Joni M. Ramos, President, Salt River Pima-Maricopa Indian Community. “The partnering law enforcement agencies have been working diligently to eliminate the dreadful substances afflicting our Community. We appreciate all of their hard work and assistance.”

“The scourge of methamphetamine is tightening its grip on communities across rural America and in our Indian communities,” said DEA Special Agent in Charge Timothy J. Landrum. “DEA is taking a focused, proactive approach towards combating the methamphetamine threat in our state’s Indian Reservations. Side by side with our tribal and law enforcement partners, we are holding meth dealers accountable, seizing their profits and shutting down their distribution network. This operation puts us one step closer in ensuring the safety and welfare of our tribal communities from this deadly drug and harmful effects it leaves behind.”

Last summer, U.S. Attorney Paul K. Charlton invited the 21 Arizona Indian tribal police chiefs and the Arizona federal law enforcement agencies to a round table discussion on how to collectively address the methamphetamine problem confronting their communities. At that meeting the respective Special Agents in Charge of the DEA, the FBI and the Bureau of Indian Affairs Office of Law Enforcement committed their offices to cooperate and provide assistance to the tribal police departments requesting their assistance. As a result, an Arizona Indian Country Methamphetamine Eradication Proposal was developed. Among the goals of the Arizona Indian Country Methamphetamine Eradication
Proposal are to:

  • Send a message that dealing methamphetamine in Indian Country amounts to long federal prison sentences;
  • Focus limited resources on individuals who constitute the greatest threat to Indian tribal communities;
  • Prosecute all readily provable methamphetamine felony crimes against targets who have a significant negative impact in their communities; and
  • Encourage Indian tribes to use their limited judicial systems and resources to prosecute individual methamphetamine possession cases in their tribal courts.

The proposal was presented in July, 2005 to the 21 Arizona Indian Tribes, the FBI, BIA and DEA. The Salt River Pima-Maricopa Indian Community was one of the first Indian tribes to actively join with federal law enforcement agencies to implement the methamphetamine eradication initiative.

The 16 individuals were arrested from January 9, 2006 through July 19, 2006. Each individual has made his/her initial appearances in U.S. Magistrate Court in Phoenix, Arizona.

The maximum statutory penalty for a violation of Conspiracy to Possess w/Intent to Distribute Actual Methamphetamine pursuant to Title 21 U.S.C. § 846 is 20 years in federal custody and/or a $1,000,000 fine. The maximum statutory penalty for a violation of Possession with the Intent to Distribute Actual Methamphetamine, Aiding and Abetting pursuant to 21 U.S.C. §§ 841(a)(1) and 841(b)(1)( C) is 20 years in federal custody and/or $1,000,000. The Forfeiture allegations pursuant to 21 U.S.C. § 853 provide a process whereby property derived from proceeds obtained from a drug violation or property used to commit such violations are subject to forfeiture.

The United States Attorney emphasized that a grand jury indictment and a federal criminal complaint are the method by which a person is charged with criminal activity and raises no inference of guilt. An individual is presumed innocent until competent evidence is presented to a jury that establishes guilt beyond a reasonable doubt.

On June 29th, the United States Attorney, Navajo Nation President Joe Shirley, and representatives of the DEA and FBI met with reporters in Flagstaff to announce the federal arrest and charging of 34 individuals for federal drug crimes on the Navajo Nation. Those individuals had also been the target of a joint tribal and federal undercover methamphetamine eradication investigation.

This undercover operation was conducted by the Salt River Police Department and the Drug Enforcement Administration with assistance from the Federal Bureau of Investigation, the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives, Immigration and Customs Enforcement, the Scottsdale Police Department, the Fort McDowell Yavapai Nation Police Department, Tohono O’odham Nation Police Department and the Mesa Police Department. The prosecution is being handled by Tom Simon, Assistant U.S. Attorney, District of Arizona.

Timothy J. Landrum, Drug Enforcement Administration, Special Agent-in-Charge, Phoenix Field Division has provided audio comments on the joint undercover operation. The audio can be accessed by doing the following:

Dial 1-888-557-6494, and then dial mailboxes 707 and 708. Listen and Record

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