Taskforce Completes Successful Opioid Bust in Arizona

Over 9,000 Fentanyl pills and hundreds of pounds of other drugs seized

WASHINGTON – From May 15, 2018 through May 26, 2018, the Department of the Interior (DOI) Opioid Reduction Task Force conducted a Criminal Interdiction Operation in and around Tribal reservations in Arizona, seizing 9,050 Fentanyl pills, 48.2 pounds of methamphetamine, 1.2 pounds of heroin, 863 pounds of marijuana, one-half pound of cocaine, and $30,000 in cash. In total, the drug bust yielded a seizure of 913.5 pounds of illegal narcotics, with a street value of approximately $4,791,417.00, and led to 86 total arrests. The operation in Arizona is the second led by Interior’s Joint Task Force, which Secretary Zinke established to help achieve President Donald Trump’s mission to end the opioid epidemic.

“Our task force on opioids continues to distinguish itself as one of the finest operations in law enforcement today; I could not be more proud of these professionals,” said U.S. Secretary of the Interior Ryan Zinke. “It’s heartbreaking to see the scale of the problem, and rather than further stigmatizing victims, we are cracking down on the dealers who are selling out our children, selling out our communities, and selling out our nation. I thank our partners in Indian Country, along with state and local law enforcement, for their dedication to this mission. These brave men and women are keeping the opioid dealers up at night, and with good reason; if you are trafficking these drugs, we will find you, arrest you, and bring you to justice.”

“A drug-free Indian Country is a healthy Indian Country. I commend the efforts of our BIA Division of Drug Enforcement agents, along with federal, tribal and state partners for successfully conducting this operation to eradicate drugs in tribal communities,” said John Tahsuda, Principal Deputy Assistant Secretary for Indian Affairs. “Only together can we protect our loved ones from the harmful effects of these devastating substances.”

Significant Seizures:

Methamphetamine

33.2 pounds located in a vehicle tire with estimated street value of $1,754,212.00. (Tohono O’odham Reservation)

Methamphetamine 

15 pounds located in a natural void of a Toyota Scion with a street value of $790,952.00. (Gila River Reservation)

Heroin 

1.2 pounds located in a natural void of a Toyota Scion with a street value of $55,501.00. (Gila River Reservation)

Cocaine

0.5 pounds located in a natural void of a Toyota Scion with a street value of $22,680.00. (Gila River Reservation)

Marijuana

863.588 pounds (four separate seizures) with an estimated street value of $1,802,072.00. (Tohono O’odham Reservation)

Fentanyl 

Approximately 9,050 pills with an estimated street value of $366,000.00. (Gila River Reservation)

Total Seizure: 

913.5 pounds of illegal narcotics and approximately 9,050 fentanyl pills with a total street value of approximately $4,791,417.00.

Secretary Zinke has worked with tribes to carry out President Trump’s directive to stop the opioid crisis, conducting dozens of tribal visits to see the affected communities, while listening and learning about how to fight the crisis. In starting new initiatives to fight the epidemic, such as the creation of the Joint Task Force, the Department of the Interior is committed to giving all resources required to fight drug abuse.

The DOI Task Force for the Interdiction Operation consisted of Special Agents from the Bureau of Indian Affairs (BIA), Division of Drug Enforcement (DDE) and BIA K-9 uniformed officers, along with the Tohono O’odham Police Department, Homeland Security Investigations (HSI-Sells, Arizona), US Border Patrol (USBP), Pascua Yaqui Tribal Police Department, San Carlos Apache Tribal Police Department, Gila River Tribal Police Department, Native American Targeted Investigations of Violent Enterprises (NATIVE) Task Force, and the Arizona Department of Public Safety (DPS). The Criminal Interdiction Operation focused on highways known for being high drug trafficking routes into and through Indian Country. This collaboration focused efforts on conducting high visibility enforcement operations with specialized drug interdiction teams.

Kayenta Earth Week 2018

Kayenta Township designated this past week earth week, and I must say that the community of Kayenta pulled it off. Altogether the community of Kayenta gathered 60 Cubic Yards of Trash!

 

 

Trash was collected:

  • North of Laguna Creek Bridge on US Highway 163
  • Heading east out of Kayenta on US Highway 160
  • South on BIA Route N591
  • West of Kayenta on US Highway 160

 

 

 

 

 

I would like to thank the following organizations for helping out with this effort and making this possible for Kayenta.

  • Community Members of Kayenta
  • The Teachers of Kayenta Unified School District
  • Kayenta Township
  • ADOT
  • Kayenta Fire Department
  • Blue Coffee Pot
  • The Kayenta Chapter

JoDonna Hall- Ward proud owner of Blue Coffee Pot and a Kayenta Township Commissioner helped tremendously with her 40oz bottle recycling that she puts together every year.

 

 

Altogether with her efforts she was able to collect 23,033 40oz bottles. That translates to $1,151.65 of her own money that she put up to get rid of this eye sore in the community of Kayenta. The Kayenta Township is currently assisting with the hauling and disposal fees of these 40oz bottles in White Mesa, Utah with an additional estimated cost of $2000.00.

 

 

 

I truly believe we banned together as a community and made Kayenta better for our community members and visitors from all over the world. I sincerely hope that we all take pride in our community and take a sense of ownership of Kayenta that we call home. Thank you to all who came out and assisted with “Earth Week” here in Kayenta and making this week one for the books.

Ahehee!

Gabriel Yazzie – Kayenta Town Manager

 

Peshlakai’s SB1235 passes Senate, would create official Native American Day

STATE CAPITOL, PHOENIX Senator Peshlakai released the following statement after her bill SB1235 passed out of the Senate. SB1235 would establish June 2nd as Native American Day and an official Arizona state unpaid holiday.

Currently, California, Nevada and South Dakota have declared Native American Day an official state holiday and Tennessee celebrates American Indian Day.

“I’m deeply proud that my bill to create an official state Native American Day passed out of the Senate today. Twenty-two tribes are currently recognized in Arizona and tribal reservation land covers over a quarter of the state. An estimated five to six percent of Arizona’s total population is of Native American ancestry making it the second largest Native American population in the U.S.

“Before 1924, Native Americans were not U.S. citizens and we didn’t earn the right to vote in Arizona until 1948. With over 390,000 tribal members in Arizona and almost 11,000 veterans, it’s long past time we recognize the contributions Native Americans have made to our state’s history and the important role we play in its future. Arizona’s Native American Day is a good start and I hope my colleagues in the House will approve my bill and send it to the governor.”

 

Drivers should plan for extra time on US 163 north of Kayenta due to construction project that begins today

The Arizona Department of Transportation advises drivers to plan for extra time when traveling on US 163 north of Kayenta during a scheduled six-month-long construction project that begins today (March 14).

The 1-mile work zone, located between mileposts 400 and 401, is approximately 5 miles north
of Kayenta. Drivers traveling between Kayenta and the Utah state line will use a temporary detour alongside US 163 to continue north- and southbound travel through the work zone. US 163 is the highway motorists use to access the popular Monument Valley Navajo Tribal park near the Arizona-Utah border.

Drivers should expect intermittent delays of up to 30 minutes during the construction project, which is  needed to improve the drainage system along this portion of US 163 during rain storms.

Motorists should slow down and use caution through the work zone. To learn more about the US 163 roadway improvement project, visit [www.azdot.gov/US163]www.azdot.gov/US163.

Schedules are subject to change based on weather and other unforeseen factors. For more information, please call the ADOT Project Information Line at 855.712.8530 or email Projects@azdot.gov. For real-time highway conditions statewide, visit ADOT’s Traveler Information Site at www.az511.gov, follow ADOT on Twitter (@ArizonaDOT) or call 511, except when driving.

LEGISLATIVE ALERT: H.B. 2003 coal mining; TPT; repeal

On Tuesday, Mar. 6, H.B. 2003 coal mining; TPT; repeal was assigned to the Senate Finance Committee and the Senate Rules Committee, respectively. Previously, the bill passed out of the House of Representatives last Thursday, Mar. 1, and was transmitted to the Senate on Monday, Mar. 5. H.B. 2003 is sponsored by Rep. Mark Finchem, R-Dist. 11; Casa Grande, Eloy, Marana, Maricopa, Oro Valley, Tucson. The bill is on the agenda and scheduled to be heard in the Senate Finance Committee next Wednesday, Mar. 14 at 9 a.m. MST.

This legislative alert seeks to inform LD-7 constituents of this bill and its potential impacts district-wide. The office of Sen. Peshlakai encourages district and state residents’ input and feedback through the legislature’s ‘Request To Speak’ system. 

Attached is the committee agenda, a House bill summary, and a fiscal note for your review. You may review the full bill and additional details online at www.azleg.gov.

 

LEGISLATIVE ALERT: SB1238 AND SB1239

Sen. Peshlakai’s SB1239 tribal nations; veterans’ services; appropriation and SB1238 appropriation; Diné college has passed out of the Committee on Commerce and Public Safety (COMPS), and the Committee on Education, respectively. The bills are now scheduled to be heard in the Senate Committee on Appropriations next Tuesday, Feb. 20 in hearing room 109. The meeting is scheduled to begin at 2 p.m., or upon the adjournment of the Senate Floor Session.

You are encouraged to voice your position on the bill by using the RTS system. If you have not registered with the Legislature’s RTS system, you are welcome to email the Appropriations Committee members at the following email addresses:

 

John Kavanagh                      Chairman                   jkavanagh@azleg.gov

Warren Petersen                   Vice-Chairman          wpetersen@azleg.gov

Sylvia Allen                            Member                     sallen@azleg.gov

Sonny Borrelli                        Member                     sborrelli@azleg.gov

Olivia Cajero Bedford           Member                     obedford@azleg.gov

Karen Fann                            Member                     kfann@azleg.gov

Steve Farley                           Member                     sfarley@azleg.gov

Katie Hobbs                           Member                     khobbs@azleg.gov

Martin Quezada                    Member                     mquezada@azleg.gov

Steve Smith                           Member                     stsmith@azleg.gov

 

Thank you.

DMC

DONOVAN M. CARR

Assistant to

Senator Jamescita Mae Peshlakai

Legislative District 7

 

ARIZONA STATE SENATE

1700 W. Washington St.

Phoenix, AZ 85007

(602) 926-5164

dcarr@azleg.gov

 

Sen. Peshlakai’s SB1235 State Holiday; Native American Day

Sen. Peshlakai has introduced her SB1235 state holiday; Native American day. This bill proposes to designate July 15 as an official state holiday—Native American Day—to recognize and celebrate the Indigenous people, culture, and heritage of Arizona. The bill is scheduled to be heard in the Senate Committee on Government next Wednesday, Feb. 14 at 2 p.m., or upon adjournment of the Senate Floor Session.

Sen. Peshlakai would like the 22 Tribes of Arizona to show their support of this bill by providing testimony before the Government Committee and logging their position of support online. There are several ways you can do this—by registering with the Arizona Legislature’s ‘Request To Speak’ (RTS) system and either requesting to speak before the Committee, or logging your support of the bill. Any person can indicate their position to any bill at the Legislature, and can register to provide testimony to bills by using the RTS system. If you have not previously created a profile with the Legislature and wish to do so, you must first register at kiosks provided in the respective lobbies of either the House or the Senate here in Phoenix at the State Capitol. After creating a profile on the RTS system, you may log your positions on bills from any device online at www.azleg.gov.

 

Arizona’s bald eagles expand breeding sites in 2017

PHOENIX — Arizona’s bald eagle population continues to soar as the number of breeding areas expanded statewide and a record 82 young hatched during the 2017 breeding season, according to an annual Arizona Game and Fish Department survey.
While the number of hatchlings rose from the previous high of 79 in 2016, the number of young that actually fledged dipped slightly to 63 birds that made the important milestone of their first flight. In Arizona, at least 95 eggs were laid, which was slightly less than the 97 laid in 2016, and a record 85 breeding areas were identified, including two new areas.
“We continue to see phenomenal growth of Arizona’s bald eagle population,” said Kenneth Jacobson, AZGFD bald eagle management coordinator. “An increase in breeding areas and increasing numbers of hatchlings is a testament to the resiliency of these magnificent animals and our ongoing efforts to help recover bald eagles in Arizona.”
Arizona’s bald eagle populations have flourished since 1978, when 11 pairs were counted within the state and the species was listed as endangered. Today there are an estimated 67 adult breeding pairs.
Bald eagles in Arizona were removed from the federal Endangered Species Act in 2011. The department’s conservation efforts contributed to the species recovery. Nationally, the birds remain protected by the Bald and Golden Eagle Protection Act.
The impressive growth of the population is attributed to the continued efforts of the Southwestern Bald Eagle Management Committee – a coalition of AZGFD and 25 other government agencies, private organizations and Native American tribes – and its years of cooperative conservation efforts, including extensive monitoring by the nationally-awarded Bald Eagle Nestwatch Program.
The breeding season for bald eagles in Arizona runs from December through June, although eagle pairs at higher elevations nest later than those in the rest of the state.
Continued support from the committee, State Wildlife Grants and the Heritage Fund (Arizona Lottery ticket sales), will help ensure that Arizona’s bald eagles continue to thrive.

Secretary Zinke Directs Interior Bureaus to Take Aggressive Action to Prevent Wildfires

WASHINGTON– Today, U.S. Secretary of the Interior Ryan Zinke directed all Department of the Interior bureaus, superintendents, and land managers at all levels to adopt more aggressive practices, using the full authority of the Department, to prevent and combat the spread of catastrophic wildfires through robust fuels reduction and pre-suppression techniques. 

This year-to-date, 47,700 wildfires have burned 8 million acres across the country, with the majority of the devastation in the states of California and Montana. High-profile fires in Yosemite and Glacier National Parks have caught national headlines, however millions of acres of forest and grassland have burned in recent months.

“This Administration will take a serious turn from the past and will proactively work to prevent forest fires through aggressive and scientific fuels reduction management to save lives, homes, and wildlife habitat. It is well settled that the steady accumulation and thickening of vegetation in areas that have historically burned at frequent intervals exacerbates fuel conditions and often leads to larger and higher-intensity fires,” said Secretary Zinke. “These fires are more damaging, more costly, and threaten the safety and security of both the public and firefighters. In recent fire reviews, I have heard this described as ‘a new normal.’ It is unacceptable that we should be satisfied with the status quo. We must be innovative and where new authorities are needed, we will work with our colleagues in Congress to craft management solutions that will benefit our public lands for generations to come.”

The Secretary is directing managers and superintendents of units that have burnable vegetation to address the threat of fire in all of their activities, and to use the full range of existing authorities, to reduce fuels.

Bryan Rice, Director of the Office of Wildland Fire, said, “It is critical to fully consider the benefits of fuels reduction in the everyday management activities that we carry out for our public land management objectives, such as clearing along roadsides, around visitor use areas like campgrounds and trails, near employee housing areas, and within administrative site areas subject to wildfire.”

The Department has lost historic structures in wildfires like Glacier National Park’s historic Sperry Chalet lodge. In an effort to help prevent future losses, the Secretary is also directing increased protection of Interior assets that are in wildfire prone areas, following the Firewise guidance, writing: “If we ask local communities to ‘be safer from the start’ and meet Firewise standards, we should be the leaders of and the model for ‘Firewise-friendly’ standards in our planning, development, and maintenance of visitor-service and administrative facilities.”

“I welcome Secretary Zinke’s new directive and his attention to the catastrophic fires taking place in many western states,” said Senator Lisa Murkowski, Chairman of the Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee. “Treating our landscapes mitigates wildfire risk, increases firefighter safety, and makes our forests and rangelands healthy and resilient. We can no longer delay the implementation of this important work.” 

House Natural Resources Chairman Rob Bishop said, “We must ensure our land management agencies have the tools and resources they need to protect communities and landscapes from catastrophic wildfire. Over the long term, Congress and the Administration must work together to reverse the sorry state of our federal forests and grasslands. I’m heartened to finally have an Administration that’s focused on actively managing and addressing the on-the-ground conditions that are contributing to our historic wildfire crisis. I hope to build on this by enacting comprehensive legislation to restore the health and resiliency of federal lands.”

“If we don’t start managing our forests, the forests are going to start managing us,” said Montana Senator Steve Daines.”The fires burning across Montana are a catastrophe, and we need all available resources to combat this threat. I applaud Secretary Zinke’s action to focus resources on attacking wildfires.”

“I applaud Secretary Zinke’s effort to thin the threat. If we can reduce the fuel loads in our forests and rangelands we will provide our fire fighters more defensible space to do their jobs,” said Idaho Senator James Risch. “We need bold actions like this not just for the hurricanes in the south and east but also to avert the devastation caused by the wildfires in the west.”

“More than 50 million acres in the United States are currently at risk for catastrophic wildfire. That is why we must act to prevent calamitous fires. Management actions taken by Secretary Zinke today will not completely stop the risk, but it is an important step forward in our fight to turn unhealthy, overgrown, and infested forests into thriving, healthy ecosystems,” said Congressman Bruce Westerman. “I commend Secretary Zinke for recognizing this emergency situation and taking steps to address prevent further loss of life and property due to these preventable, catastrophic wildfires. I am committed to working with him and my colleagues in Congress to find a permanent solution to this problem that emphasizes active forest management as the first line of defense against catastrophic wildfires.”

With Western Fire season reaching its natural peak in September, the National Multi-Agency Coordinating Group (NMAC) elevated the National Fire Preparedness Level to “5”, the highest level NMAC declares, on August 10, 2017. Above normal major-fire activity continues to be observed across portions of the Pacific Northwest, Northern Rockies, northern Great Basin, and northern California. Fuel moisture levels and fire danger indices in these areas are at near-record to record levels for severity. Drier and warmer than average conditions across the central Great Basin and Southern California are allowing for the fine fuels to become more receptive to fire activity.