ARCHIVED Skip to text.To Contents    To Previous Page     To Next Page     To Publications Page     To Home Page

Great Lakes OCDETF Region

Figure 7. Federally recognized Native American reservations within the Great Lakes OCDETF Region.

Map of the Great Lakes OCDETF Region showing federally recognized Native American reservations.

Source: Bureau of Indian Affairs; U.S. Census Bureau.

Key Findings

Great Lakes OCDETF Region Indian Country Fast Facts
States Illinois, Indiana, Kentucky, Michigan, Minnesota, Ohio, and Wisconsin
Number of Reservations 37
Population on Reservations 105,644
Area (Square Miles) 5,691.48
Per Capita Income $13,843-$19,867
Poverty Level 13.1-22.4%
Unemployment 6.5-11.1%

Source: U.S. Census Bureau.

To Top      To Contents

Drug Threat Overview

Marijuana is the most widely available and frequently abused illicit drug on reservations in the region; cocaine abuse also is prevalent. Moreover, the abuse of diverted pharmaceutical drugs is increasing on many reservations, causing considerable concern to tribal, law enforcement, and public health officials. Most illicit drugs are transported in small quantities to reservations from nearby cities by Native American traffickers and independent dealers; these traffickers are also the predominant retail-level distributors within the region's Native American communities. Occasionally, traffickers from the Southwest Border area ship small quantities of illicit drugs by package delivery services to retail-level distributors on reservations. The trafficking of large quantities of drugs into reservations is limited. Overall, law enforcement officials in the region report that illicit drug abuse on reservations has increased over the past 5 years. Some officials, however, report success in combating illicit drug problems, particularly officials with active drug task forces in their area or whose agency has recently participated in a major multiagency drug investigation.


 Illicit drug trafficking on reservations by Mexican and Native American DTOs has decreased in the region since 2006. Over the past several years, Mexican and Native American DTOs transported and distributed most illicit drugs on reservations in the Great Lakes Region. However, recent law enforcement operations have curtailed the activity of such traffickers. At present, Native American traffickers, independent dealers, and street gang members control most illicit drug distribution on reservations in the region.

Most of the gangs active on reservations in the region are either local street gangs or nationally affiliated street gangs with a large contingency of Native American youth.14 Most street gangs involved in illicit drug distribution on reservations in the region are local street gangs composed of Native American youth; such gangs include 3rd Avenue Killers, Tract 33 Boys, and Allen's Bay Mob. However, some are nationally affiliated gangs such as Bloods, Crips, and Almighty Latin King Nation (aka Latin Kings).

Gang members frequently engage in an array of criminal activity including drug trafficking and personal and property crimes. Gang members operating on reservations in the region typically distribute drugs for their own profit; however, some gang members on some reservations distribute illicit drugs on behalf of Native American traffickers. Gang members also commit a host of other crimes. Gang members on reservations engage in assault; other violent offenses, including intimidation and sexual assault; and property crimes, such as tagging, vandalism, and theft.


Native American traffickers and independent dealers generally transport illicit drugs to reservations from nearby urban areas; they also travel between reservations, supplying drugs to various Native American communities. Native American and independent traffickers typically travel to urban areas close to reservations, acquire small quantities of various illicit drugs from established distributors, and return to their home reservations to distribute the drugs. They also often travel between various reservations in the region to distribute drugs and, sometimes, to obtain additional supplies of illicit drugs from other distributors to sell on their home reservations.


Marijuana and cocaine are the primary illicit drugs distributed on reservations in the region; most distribution occurs at the retail level. Native American traffickers and independent dealers distribute primarily marijuana and cocaine on reservations in the Great Lakes Region; they distribute other illicit drugs as well, but to a much lesser extent. Accordingly, law enforcement officials most frequently seize marijuana and cocaine from Native American drug abusers. Marijuana seizures often vary from gram to multipound quantities, while cocaine seizures in the region typically range from gram to half-ounce quantities. Seizures of other illicit drugs, including methamphetamine, are usually limited in quantity. Pharmaceutical drugs are typically obtained by abusers through doctor-shopping and from individuals who sell their legitimately prescribed prescriptions. Pharmaceuticals are also obtained by abusers and distributors through fraud, residential burglary, and unscrupulous physicians. Casino patrons and employees also distribute illicit drugs at reservation casinos. Such distribution usually occurs in unmonitored areas, including bathrooms, employee locker rooms, hotel rooms, and parking lots.


Marijuana is the most frequently abused illicit drug in the region; cocaine, methamphetamine, and pharmaceutical drug treatment admissions are increasing. According to TEDS data, marijuana was the illicit drug most frequently reported by American Indians at the time of treatment admission in 2006, the latest year for which such data are available. Cocaine-related treatment admissions rank second among illicit drugs; they increased significantly between 2002 and 2003 and have since remained relatively stable. The number of American Indians seeking treatment for methamphetamine abuse is low in comparison with the number who seek treatment for marijuana and cocaine abuse. However, reports of treatment admissions for methamphetamine did increase from 2002 to 2005, although abuse of the drug may have peaked--mentions declined from 2005 to 2006. Moreover, treatment admissions for pharmaceutical abuse increased overall between 2002 and 2006, while heroin-related admissions remained relatively stable. (See Table 10.)

Table 10. Primary Illicit Drug Mentions by American Indians Seeking Treatment for Abuse in the Great Lakes Region, 2002-2006

Drug 2002 2003 2004 2005 2006
Cocaine 14.6% 18.0% 20.3% 21.3% 20.2%
Heroin 3.4% 2.9% 3.4% 3.2% 3.2%
Marijuana 45.6% 48.3% 49.2% 48.7% 48.8%
Methamphetamine 4.7% 5.4% 7.7% 9.6% 8.2%
Pharmaceuticals 3.6% 3.6% 4.3% 5.8% 5.8%

Source: Treatment Episode Data Set 2006.

End Note

14. While many of these gangs claim affiliation with national gang structures such as Bloods and Crips, the majority are hybrid gang structures that have little or no affiliation with the national gang other than the names, symbolism, and representing style.

To Top     To Contents     To Previous Page     To Next Page

To Publications Page     To Home Page

End of page.