Justice Department Recognizes Human Trafficking Survivor and Advocate from Washington with Special Courage Award
Two members of the Lummi Indian Tribe were sentenced today in U.S. District Court in Seattle to prison terms for conspiracy to distribute controlled substances, including heroin and methamphetamine, announced Acting U.S. Attorney Annette L. Hayes. TANYA JEFFERSON, 45, was sentenced to 18 months in prison, and her husband JOHN JEFFERSON, 37, was sentenced to 46 months in prison. Both were charged federally in August 2014, following an undercover investigation by the Lummi Police Department and the FBI. In November 2014, both entered guilty pleas admitting that on five different occasions in April 2013, the JEFFERSONs sold heroin or methamphetamine to a person working with law enforcement. At sentencing U.S. District Judge Richard A. Jones said, “Every time you sell drugs you impact someone’s life…. Anytime you introduce those drugs in your tribe, you don’t know what type of tailspin of addiction you have introduced.”
“Heroin and methamphetamine trafficking has no place in any of our communities, least of all on tribal lands,” said Acting U.S. Attorney Annette L. Hayes. “Heroin abuse is a growing problem in Western Washington and beyond, with an alarming increase in overdose deaths, especially among people under thirty. Last week I convened a heroin summit to focus community resources on battling what has become a growing epidemic of opioid abuse. I commend the work of our Tribal partners, the Lummi, to lead in the effort to prevent heroin use and overdose deaths.”
In partnership with Lummi public health agencies, Lummi Nation police officers are some of the first in Western Washington to be trained to recognize the symptoms of heroin or opioid prescription drug overdose and administer naloxone, an opioid blocker to help prevent needless overdose deaths in the community. In the first ten months of the program, officers have successfully administered naloxone in eleven overdose situations and saved lives that otherwise would have been lost.
JOHN JEFFERSON has a lengthy criminal history with 59 adult convictions for a range of offenses, including assault and battery, aggravated theft, violation of no-contact orders, and resisting arrest. His most recent conviction is for domestic violence against his wife, and in that case he attacked her to prevent her from calling the police. He also failed to complete his domestic violence treatment sessions. TANYA JEFFERSON has prior convictions for drug dealing and forgery. She is now barred by the tribe from the Lummi reservation because of her drug dealing.
The case was investigated by the Lummi Police Department and the FBI. The case was prosecuted by Assistant United States Attorney Jerrod Patterson.