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- 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 border.
- 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 Indian Country.
- 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 their addiction.
At the request of the Law Enforcement Task Force of the Indian Affairs Executive
Working Group of the White House Domestic Policy Council; the Office of National
Drug Control Policy; and the U.S. Department of Justice, Office of Tribal Justice,
the National Drug Intelligence Center has produced the Indian Country Drug Threat
Assessment 2008. The purpose of the report is to provide a comprehensive, strategic
assessment of the threat posed to Native American communities by DTOs, criminal
groups, and gangs and the illicit drugs they distribute on reservations throughout
the United States.
Under agreement with the tasking officials for this report, only Native American
reservations in the contiguous 48 states of the United States were studied. In order
to assess the current drug situation in Indian Country, NDIC intelligence analysts
visited 80 reservations throughout the country. The sampling of reservations (80
out of 330 that exist in the United States) was determined under the following criteria:
- Reservations that share a border with either Canada or Mexico.
- Reservations within 100 to 200 miles of the border with Canada or Mexico.
- Reservations identified through federal investigations as being significantly
affected by drugs and criminal activity.
- Reservations bordering major metropolitan areas that serve as drug transshipment
- Reservations with considerable tourist industries or natural resources.
Sources of information for this report include personal interviews with federal,
state, and tribal law enforcement officials by NDIC intelligence analysts; NDIC
Field Program Specialist (FPS) Intelligence Reports (IRs); 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),2
the Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA), the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI)
Safe Trails Task Forces (STTFs), and Indian Health Service (IHS). (Please see
Sources for complete listing.)
Bureau of Indian Affairs (BIA) is responsible
for the administration and management of 55.7 million acres of land held in trust
by the United States for American Indians, Indian tribes, and Alaska Natives. These
lands include those that are individually owned, federally owned, and owned and
held in trust status.
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