Justice Department Recognizes Human Trafficking Survivor and Advocate from Washington with Special Courage Award
Two members of the Lummi Indian tribe are charged federally with drug distribution following an undercover investigation by the Lummi Police Department and the FBI, announced U.S. Attorney Jenny A. Durkan. A married couple, TANYA JEFFERSON, 44, and JOHN JEFFERSON, 37, are charged in a criminal complaint with conspiracy to distribute controlled substances. The complaint alleges that on five different occasions in April 2013, the JEFFERSONs sold heroin or methamphetamine to a person working with law enforcement. TANYA JEFFERSON is making her initial appearance in U.S. District Court in Seattle today. JOHN JEFFERSON is still being sought by law enforcement.
“Heroin abuse is a growing problem throughout Western Washington, with an alarming increase in overdose deaths,” said U.S. Attorney Jenny A. Durkan. “Yesterday Attorney General Holder announced plans for federal law enforcement agents to carry the drug naloxone to deal with overdoses. I applaud the Lummi Tribe for already equipping their officers with the drug to counteract heroin overdoses.”
Tribal Chairman Timothy J. Ballew, II issued the following statement:
“The Lummi Nation, a community of about 5,000 citizens, is responding to an epidemic of drug overdose and death due to illegal drug use by community members of all backgrounds. With funding from the Lummi Indian Business Council, the Lummi Nation Police Department has made the investigation of drug trafficking and sales a top priority. With the assistance of the Federal Bureau of Investigation and the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Western District of Washington, more high level dealers are facing significant incarceration.
Medical professionals at the Lummi Nation have also made significant strides to limit access to prescription drugs by patients seeking prescription medications for illicit use. The Nation has seen a massive shift to cheap and prevalent heroin as the availability of prescription narcotics diminishes. In partnership with Lummi public health agencies, Lummi Nation police officers have been trained to administer naloxone, an opioid blocker to help prevent needless deaths in the community. Officers are trained to recognize the signs and symptoms of a citizen experiencing a life threatening heroin or opioid overdose. In the first six weeks of the program, officers have successfully administered naloxone in three overdose situations. Naloxone doesn’t substitute for emergency care but provides more time for medical units to arrive and treat the victim.”
The charges contained in the complaint are only allegations. A person is presumed innocent unless and until he or she is proven guilty beyond a reasonable doubt in a court of law.
The case was investigated by the Lummi Police Department and the FBI. The case is being prosecuted by Assistant United States Attorney Jerrod Patterson.