In First Raid, New Opioid Task Force Seizes $2.5 Million worth of Meth and $22,000 in Marijuana, Heroin and Other Narcotics

Secretary Zinke made the announcement at the opening of the “Prescribed to Death” traveling memorial remembering victims and survivors of the opioid crisis 

WASHINGTON – Today, just two weeks after U.S. Secretary of the Interior Ryan Zinke announced the Department was forming a new Joint Task Force (JTF) to combat the opioid crisis in Indian Country, the Secretary announced the JTF’s first raid seized 49 pounds of methamphetamine with a street value of $2.5 million and more than $20,000 worth of marijuana, plus smaller amounts of heroin, and other narcotics. The raid was led by Interior’s JTF with partnership from the Pueblo Tribes and New Mexico law enforcement officials. Secretary Zinke formed the JTF in response to President Donald J. Trump’s commitment to end the opioid crisis.

“I am incredibly proud of the law enforcement officers on this Joint Task Force. The work they did over the weekend in New Mexico, seizing the very drugs that are poisoning tribal communities, will save lives,” said Secretary Zinke. “They successfully stopped $2.5 million worth of methamphetamine from stealing our children’s futures. Their work is a perfect example of what we can do when we leverage the resources of the government to address this crisis in Indian Country. President Trump’s leadership in the fight against opioids and other drugs has been tremendous. Together, we are cracking down on the dealers who are selling out our kids.”

“I am very pleased to see that the new leadership in the BIA Office of Justice Services is exceeding expectations in carrying out the Secretary and President’s direction to combat opioids across Indian Country,” said Director of the Bureau of Indian Affairs Bryan Rice. “Deputy Bureau Director Charlie Addington is leading a results-driven effort to address this epidemic in our communities and surrounding areas.”

The JTF consisted of agents and officers from the Bureau of Indian Affairs (BIA) and their K-9 unit, Office of Justice Services, Division of Drug Enforcement, BIA District-IV Indian Country – High Intensity Drug Trafficking Area Task Force, New Mexico State Police (NMSP) and their K-9 unit, NMSP Investigation Bureau’s Regional Narcotic Task Force, and the Department of Homeland Security Task Force.

This operation ran from April 3 to April 7, 2018, and was conducted at the following Pueblos around Albuquerque, New Mexico: Laguna, Sandia, Cochiti, San Ildefonso, Santa Ana, Santa Clara, Picuris, Santo Domingo, Pojoaque, Nambe, San Felipe, Tesuque, and Ohkay Owengah. The JTF conducted 304 traffic stops and 93 vehicle searches, issued 129 traffic citations, and arrested 11 subjects for drug possession.

Last month, Secretary Zinke championed President Trump’s commitment to end the opioid epidemic in a series of tribal community visits during the week of the President’s Opioid initiative. The Secretary personally visited several tribal communities around the country — Tohono O’odham, Gila River, Salt River, and AK-Chin in Arizona; Oneida in Wisconsin; Spokane, Colville, and Lummi Nations in Washington State — to listen and learn about how the opioid crisis is impacting tribes and to show the Department’s commitment to addressing the resonating effects of this addiction. Tribes welcomed these visits and the President’s commitment to eliminating the opioid epidemic with the greatest appreciation.

Eight San Juan County Residents Facing Federal Charges Arising Out of Methamphetamine Trafficking on Navajo Reservation

scales-of-justice-hiOCDETF Operation, Led by HSI and HIDTA Region II Narcotics Task Force, Targeted Methamphetamine Traffickers in Northwestern New Mexico

ALBUQUERQUE – Eight San Juan County residents are facing federal narcotics trafficking charges as the result of a multi-agency investigation led by Homeland Security Investigations (HSI) and the HIDTA Region II Narcotics Task Force into methamphetamine trafficking on the Navajo Indian Reservation in northwestern New Mexico.  Six of the eight defendants were arrested yesterday during a law enforcement operation that included the execution of two search warrants at residences in Shiprock and Kirtland, N.M.  The six defendants who were arrested made their initial appearances in federal court in Farmington, N.M., this morning.  Their arraignment hearings, which will take place in federal court in Albuquerque, N.M., have yet to be scheduled.

The investigation leading to the federal charges was initiated in response to an increase in methamphetamine trafficking on the Navajo Indian Reservation in the Shiprock area.  The investigation identified eight defendants, who are charged in five indictments, through a series of methamphetamine purchases by undercover law enforcement officers.  Law enforcement authorities seized more than two and a half pounds of methamphetamine, ten firearms, approximately $1,600 in cash and a vehicle during yesterday’s operation.

The investigation was designated as part of the Organized Crime Drug Enforcement Task Force (OCDETF) program.  This Department of Justice program combines the resources and unique expertise of federal agencies, along with their local counterparts, in a coordinated effort to disrupt and dismantle major drug trafficking organizations.

“Methamphetamine continues to have a devastating impact on Native American families and communities,” said U.S. Attorney Damon P. Martinez.  “This investigation is an example of how federal, state, local and tribal law enforcement agencies are working together to improve the safety of Native American communities and increase awareness of the dangers of methamphetamine.”

“HSI special agents have worked tirelessly the past year along with our partners to develop this investigation,” said Special Agent in Charge Waldemar Rodriguez of HSI El Paso.  “These arrests demonstrate our resolve to identify and dismantle transnational organizations no matter where they attempt to hide.”

“We are very pleased to see the hard work of this joint investigation come to completion,” said Operations Sergeant Kevin Burns of the HIDTA Region II Narcotics Task Force.  “We are confident the efforts of this investigation will make this community safer and hold narcotic traffickers accountable in San Juan County.”

The investigation resulted in the filing of indictments in the following federal cases:

The seven-count indictment filed in United States v. Arce, et al., 16-CR-1433 JAP, charges Miguel Rangel-Arce, 36, Luis Rangel-Arce, 44, and Rogelio Santiago Quiroa-Valdez with participating in a methamphetamine trafficking conspiracy between Nov. 2015 and March 2016, and with distributing methamphetamine on six occasions between Jan. 2016 and March 2016.  The three defendants are Mexican nationals who have been residing in San Juan County.  Miguel Rangel-Arce and Quiroa-Valdez were arrested yesterday.  Luis Rangel-Arce has yet to be arrested and is considered a fugitive.  If convicted, the defendants face the following statutory penalties:  Miguel Rangel-Arce faces a mandatory minimum of ten years and a maximum of life in prison; Luis Rangel-Arce faces a mandatory minimum of five years and a maximum of 40 years in prison; Quiroa-Valdez faces a maximum of 20 years in prison.  The three men also face deportation if convicted.

The indictment filed in United States v. Ruiz, et al., 16-CR-1432 WJ, charges Manuel Ruiz, 45, and Troy Begay, 36, both of Kirtland, N.M., with distributing methamphetamine in March 2016.  Begay was arrested yesterday.  Ruiz has yet to be arrested and is considered a fugitive.  If convicted, Ruiz and Begay each face a statutory penalty of a mandatory minimum of five years and a maximum of 40 years in prison.

The indictment filed in United States v. Dennison, 16-CR-1431 JCH, charges Lewayne Dennison, 38, of Fruitland, N.M., with distributing methamphetamine in Oct. 2015.  Dennison was arrested yesterday.  If convicted, Dennison faces a statutory penalty of a mandatory minimum of five years and a maximum of 40 years in prison.

The indictment filed in United States v. Castor, et al., 16-CR-1430 JCH, charges Kirk Castor, 35, of Kirtland, N.M., with distributing methamphetamine on two occasions in April 2015.  Castor was arrested yesterday.  If convicted, Castor faces a statutory maximum penalty of 20 years in prison.

The indictment filed in United States v. Begay, 16-CR-1429 JCH, charges George Begay, 47, of Fruitland, N.M., with distributing methamphetamine in April 2014.  Begay was arrested yesterday.  If convicted, Begay faces a statutory maximum penalty of 20 years in prison.

Charges in indictments and complaints are merely accusations and defendants are presumed innocent unless convicted in a court of law.

fugitive_manuel_ruizfugitive_luis_rangel-arcePhotographs of the two fugitives, Luis Rangel-Arce and Manuel Ruiz, are attached to this press release.  Individuals with information on the whereabouts of these fugitives are asked to contact the HIDTA Region II Narcotics Task Force at 505-344-6622.

These cases were investigated by HSI’s Albuquerque office and the HIDTA Region II Narcotics Task Force with assistance from the Farmington office of the FBI, U.S. Marshals Service, and BIA’s Division of Drug Enforcement, Shiprock office of the Navajo Nation Division of Public Safety, New Mexico State Police, San Juan County Sheriff’s Office, Farmington Police Department, and New Mexico National Guard.  Assistant U.S. Attorney Elaine Y. Ramirez is prosecuting the cases.

The HIDTA Region II Narcotics Task Force is comprised of officers and investigators from the Farmington Police Department, San Juan County Sheriff’s Office, Bloomfield Police Department, Aztec Police Department and HSI Albuquerque, and is part of the High Intensity Drug Trafficking Areas (HIDTA) program was created by Congress with the Anti-Drug Abuse Act of 1988.  HIDTA is a program of the White House Office of National Drug Control Policy (ONDCP) which provides assistance to federal, state, local and tribal law enforcement agencies operating in areas determined to be critical drug-trafficking regions of the United States and seeks to reduce drug trafficking and production by facilitating coordinated law enforcement activities and information sharing.

Crownpoint Man Sentenced to Prison for Federal Assault Conviction

scales-of-justice-hiDefendant Prosecuted as Part of Federal Initiative to Address the Epidemic Incidence of Violence Against Native Women

ALBUQUERQUE – Shiloh Y. McLemore, 36, an enrolled member of the Navajo Nation who resides in Crownpoint, N.M., was sentenced this morning in federal court in Albuquerque, N.M., to 63 months in prison followed by three years of supervised release for his assault conviction.

McLemore was arrested on April 15, 2015, on a criminal complaint charging him with assault with a dangerous weapon.  The complaint alleged that on April 8, 2015, law enforcement officers responded to the campus of the Navajo Technical University (NTU), where McLemore had assaulted and battered a woman and had then barricaded himself inside an apartment on the NTU campus.  When approached by a Navajo man, McLemore took out a handgun, loaded the handgun with a full magazine of bullets, chambered a bullet, and threatened the man.

McLemore was subsequently indicted on May 12, 2015, and charged with assault of a male victim with a dangerous weapon, assault of a female victim with a dangerous weapon, and using and brandishing a firearm during a crime of violence.  The indictment alleged that McLemore committed the three crimes on April 8, 2015, on the Navajo Indian Reservation in McKinley County, N.M.  On Sept. 17, 2015, McLemore pled guilty to the two assault charges.

The Gallup office of the FBI and the Crownpoint office of the Navajo Nation Department of Public Safety investigated this case, which was prosecuted by Assistant U.S. Attorney Novaline D. Wilson.

The case was brought pursuant to the Tribal Special Assistant U.S. Attorney (Tribal SAUSA) Pilot Project in the District of New Mexico, which is sponsored by the Justice Department’s Office on Violence Against Women under a grant administered by the Pueblo of Laguna.  The Tribal SAUSA Pilot Project seeks to train tribal prosecutors in federal law, procedure and investigative techniques to increase the likelihood that every viable violent offense against Native women is prosecuted in either federal court or tribal court, or both.  The Tribal SAUSA Pilot Project was largely driven by input gathered from annual tribal consultations on violence against women, and is another step in the Justice Department’s on-going efforts to increase engagement, coordination and action on public safety in tribal communities.

Navajo Man from Newcomb Pleads Guilty to Discharging a Firearm During a Crime of Violence

scales-of-justice-hiPlea Agreement Requires Imposition of Ten-Year Prison Sentence

ALBUQUERQUE – Eli Hunt, 36, an enrolled member of the Navajo Nation who resides in Newcomb, N.M., pleaded guilty today in federal court in Albuquerque, N.M., to discharging a firearm during a crime of violence.  Under the terms of his plea agreement, Hunt will be sentenced to ten years in federal prison followed by a term of supervised release to be determined by the court.

Hunt was arrested in Dec. 2015, on a criminal complaint charging him with assault with a dangerous weapon, discharging a firearm during a crime of violence, and burglary.  The complaint alleged that he committed the crimes on Dec. 3, 2015, on the Navajo Indian Reservation in San Juan County, N.M.  According to the complaint, Hunt broke into a home in Little Water, N.M., and threatened a man and woman who lived there with a tire iron and a firearm.  Hunt also fired shots into the air as he chased the victims around their residence and property while threatening to kill them.

Hunt was subsequently indicted on Dec. 17, 2015, and was charged with aggravated burglary, assault with a dangerous weapon, and discharging a firearm during a crime of violence.

During today’s proceedings, Hunt pled guilty to Count 3 of the indictment charging him with discharging a firearm during a crime of violence.  In entering his plea, Hunt admitted discharging a firearm while assaulting a person with a deadly weapon.

Hunt was remanded into federal custody after entering his guilty plea.  He will remain detained pending his sentencing hearing, which has yet to be scheduled.

This case was investigated by the Farmington office of the FBI and the Shiprock office of the Navajo Nation Division of Public Safety.  Assistant U.S. Attorney Niki Tapia-Brito is prosecuting the case.

THIRTY-FOUR FACING FEDERAL AND TRIBAL CHARGES ARISING OUT OF METHAMPHETAMINE TRAFFICKING ON MESCALERO APACHE RESERVATION

methALBUQUERQUE – Thirty-four individuals are facing federal and tribal drug charges as the result of an 18-month multi-agency investigation spearheaded by the DEA and BIA into methamphetamine trafficking on the Mescalero Apache Reservation.  Eighteen defendants, including five members of the Mescalero Apache Tribe and thirteen non-Natives are charged in six indictments and a criminal complaint filed in the U.S. District Court for the District of New Mexico in Nov. and Dec. 2015.  Sixteen other members of the Mescalero Apache Tribe are charged in tribal criminal complaints approved by the Mescalero Apache Tribal Court.

The investigation leading to the federal and tribal charges was initiated in May 2014 in response to an increase in violent crime on the Mescalero Apache Reservation perpetrated by methamphetamine users.  The investigation initially targeted a drug trafficking organization allegedly led by Lorenzo Saenz, a member of the Mescalero Apache Tribe, which distributed methamphetamine within the Reservation.  It later expanded to include two other drug trafficking organizations in southeastern New Mexico that allegedly served as sources of supply for the methamphetamine distributed within the Reservation. 

In Aug. 2014, the investigation was designated as part of the Justice Department’s Organized Crime Drug Enforcement Task Force (OCDETF) program, which combines the resources and unique expertise of federal agencies, along with their local counterparts, in a coordinated effort to disrupt and dismantle major drug trafficking organizations.  The investigation is one of the first OCDETF investigations to utilize electronic surveillance (wiretaps) in Indian Country.  More than ten kilograms of methamphetamine were seized during the course of the investigation.

“Methamphetamine has a disproportionate devastating impact on tribal communities, accounting for up to 40% of violent crime on reservations,” said District of New Mexico U.S. Attorney Damon P. Martinez.  “This investigation is an example of the Justice Department’s commitment to working with Tribal Governments to improve the safety of Native communities and increase awareness of the dangers of methamphetamine use.”

“I want to thank the BIA’s Division of Drug Enforcement and Office of Justice Services, the DEA and the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the many, many hours they put forth during this investigation,” said President Danny Breuninger of the Mescalero Apache Tribe.  “Before and since taking Office as the President of the Mescalero Apache Tribe, I heard complaints from our Tribal Members and saw the pain and suffering caused by illegal drug use and sales on our Reservation.  Many of our young people are being poisoned by methamphetamine and lives are being shattered by senseless drug-related injuries and deaths.  As the leader of my Tribe, it is my job to do all I can to preserve the safety and welfare of our people and to preserve our culture, traditions and customs.  The great majority of our Tribal Members are great people who work hard every day to support their families and raise their children with the values and traditions that have been passed down generation after generation.  But continuing to do this is very hard when our Tribal Members’ lives are being torn apart by illegal drug use.  I call on the Federal Government, including the President, the Attorney General and Congress, to continue supporting and working with BIA and tribal police departments in these types of collaborative efforts throughout Indian Country.  Thank you again for all of the support and dedication in serving the Mescalero Apache Tribe.”

Saenz and four other members of the Mescalero Apache Tribe are charged in four federal indictments with distributing methamphetamine within the Mescalero Apache Reservation.  Saenz and a co-defendant are alleged to have participated in a methamphetamine trafficking conspiracy during which they sold methamphetamine to undercover agents on multiple occasions.  Saenz was one of two federal defendants arrested on Dec. 11, 2015, when 13 of the 16 tribal defendants were also arrested.  A third federal Mescalero Apache defendant is in state custody on unrelated charges and the remaining two have yet to be arrested.

Thirteen non-Natives, alleged members of two drug trafficking organizations that supplied the methamphetamine distributed within the Mescalero Apache Reservation, are charged in two other federal indictments and a federal criminal complaint.  Eight of the non-Natives are charged with methamphetamine trafficking and money laundering offenses in a 24-count indictment; three are charged with methamphetamine trafficking offenses in a five-count indictment; and two are charged with methamphetamine trafficking offenses in a criminal complaint.  Eight of the non-Natives have been arrested, two are in state custody on unrelated charges, and three have yet to be arrested.

“The DEA and Bureau of Indian Affairs dismantled three drug trafficking organizations distributing methamphetamine on the Mescalero Apache Reservation and across southeastern New Mexico,” said Special Agent in Charge Will R. Glaspy of the DEA’s El Paso Division. “This is our warning to others who think they can hide their crimes on Tribal Lands:  we are coming for you.”

“The BIA would like to thank the DEA and the U.S. Attorney’s Office for an outstanding collaborative effort that shows the resolve of our law enforcement partners to address the issue of illicit drug use in Indian Country and their dedication to provide safe communities for Indian people,” said Special Agent in Charge William McClure of District IV of BIA’s Office of Justice Services.  “The many hours and resources that went in to this operation have increased the safety of tribal community members and reduced their fear of the danger posed by these individuals charged and their associates.”

“Methamphetamine continues to have a devastating effect on Native American families and communities throughout Indian Country,” said Gary Cunningham, Regional Agent in Charge of BIA’s Division of Drug Enforcement.  “The results of this multi-agency investigation are a great example of what can be accomplished when the Bureau of Indian Affairs and other federal, state and local law enforcement agencies combine efforts and resources to remove these drug trafficking organizations from our communities.  Indian Country is grateful for these partnerships and BIA will continue to work with our law enforcement partners to aggressively remove these negative elements from our communities.”

The federal and tribal cases were investigated by the Las Cruces office of the DEA, District IV of the BIA’s Office of Justice Services (Mescalero Agency), BIA’s Division of Drug Enforcement, Mescalero Tribal Police Department, Hatch Police Department, FBI and Lea County Drug Task Force.

The following additional agencies assisted the investigating agencies with law enforcement operations on Nov. 20, 2015 and Dec. 11, 2015:  U.S. Marshals Service, Homeland Security Investigations, Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives, U.S. Border Patrol, New Mexico State Police, HIDTA Interagency Metro Narcotics, New Mexico National Guard, Chaves County Metro Narcotics Task Force, Pecos Valley Drug Task Force, Alamogordo Police Department, Ruidoso Police Department, Socorro Police Department Sunland Park Police Department and Tularosa Police Department.

Assistant U.S. Attorney Terri J. Abernathy of the U.S. Attorney’s Las Cruces Branch Office is prosecuting the federal cases, and Mescalero Tribal Prosecutor Alta Braham is prosecuting the tribal cases.

Defendants Charged in Federal Indictments

The indictment filed in United States v. Saenz, 15-CR-4105 RB, charges Alvino L. Saenz, 49, a member of the Mescalero Apache Tribe, with distribution of methamphetamine.  Saenz was arrested on Dec. 11, 2015.

The indictment filed in United States v. Lester, 15-CR-4106 RB, charges Glen Joel Lester, 38, a member of the Mescalero Apache Tribe, with distribution of methamphetamine.  Lester has yet to be arrested and is considered a fugitive.

The indictment filed in United States v. Rice, 15-CR-4107 RB, charges Wallace Rice, Jr., 44, a member of the Mescalero Apache Tribe, with distribution of methamphetamine.  Rice is in state custody on unrelated charges and will be transferred to federal custody to face the charge in the indictment.

The indictment filed in United States v. Saenz, et al., 15-CR-4110 RB, charges Lorenzo Y. Saenz, 51, and Rona Antone Morin, 44, both members of the Mescalero Apache Tribe, with conspiracy and distribution of methamphetamine.  Saenz was arrested on Dec. 11, 2015.  Morin has yet to be arrested and is considered a fugitive.

The indictment filed in United States v. Tafoya, et al., 15-CR-4112 RB, charges the following eight non-Natives with methamphetamine trafficking and money laundering offenses:

·Carlos Tafoya, Jr., 34, of Socorro, N.M., was arrested on Nov. 13, 2015.

·Robin Lee Lovelace, 55, of Alamogordo, N.M., was arrested on Nov. 13, 2015.

·Jerilyn Lee Muñoz, 27, of Artesia, N.M., was arrested on Nov. 20, 2015.

·Patricia Kay Portillo, 54, of Carrizozo, N.M., is in state custody on unrelated charges and will be transferred to federal custody to face the charges in the indictment.

·Robert Alan Rutledge, 33, of Alamogordo, N.M., was arrested on Dec. 2, 2015.

·Justin Aaron Hudkins, 33, of Alamogordo, N.M., was arrested on Nov. 20, 2015.

· Audrey J. Gomez, 30, of Hobbs, N.M., was arrested on Nov. 20, 2015.

·Tandie Sheree Bettag, 37, of Alamogordo, N.M., was arrested on Dec. 8, 2015, after she was transferred from state custody to federal custody.

The indictment filed in United States v. Herrera, et al., 15-CR-4407 RB, charges the following three non-Natives with methamphetamine trafficking offenses:

·Octavio Herrera, 53, of Ruidoso Downs, N.M., has yet to be arrested and is considered a fugitive.

·Rumaldo Varela Enriquez, 45, of Lovington, N.M., has yet to be arrested and is considered a fugitive.

·Johnny Flowers, 50, of Hobbs, N.M., has yet to be arrested and is considered a fugitive.

The criminal complaint filed in U.S. v. Boutte, et al., 15-MJ-4009, charges the following two non-Natives with methamphetamine trafficking offenses:

·Cedric James Boutte, 32, of Clovis, N.M., is in state custody on unrelated charges and will be transferred to federal custody to face the federal charges against him.

·Tanya Schree Cain, 33, of Clovis, N.M., was arrested on Nov. 20, 2015.

Members of the public with information on the whereabouts of the five federal fugitives (Rumaldo Varela Enriquez, Johnny Flowers, Octavio Herrera, Glen Joel Lester and Rona Antone Morin) are asked to contact the DEA in Las Cruces at (575) 526-0700.  Tips also can be “texted” to Tip411.

Defendants Charged in Tribal Criminal Complaints

The following members of the Mescalero Apache Tribe are charged in Mescalero

Apache Tribal Court with conspiracy and possession of methamphetamine:

·         Geraldine Jacqueline Baca, 45 (not arrested)

·         Wynette R. Baca, 48

·         Niles Caje

·         Lydia Yolanda Cervantes, 57

·         Teresa Cooper

·         Raenette Rose Evans, 34

·         Louise Glossop, 28

·         Rosemary Harrington, 32

·         Timothy R. Johnson, 26

·         Cullen Kaydahzinne, 27

·         Theresa Rae Lester, 25 (not arrested)

·         Bryan P. Martinez, 32 (not arrested)

·         Ventura Peralta, 35

·         Sheri R. Platero, 36

·         Jeanette Robinson

·         Rebekah J. Victor, 32

Charges in indictments and criminal complaints are merely accusations and defendants are presumed innocent unless found guilty beyond a reasonable doubt.

17 ARRESTED IN TUBA CITY DRUG SWEEP

PHOENIX – Following a coordinated federal, tribal and state task force investigation into drug trafficking on the Navajo Nation, 20 individuals have been charged with federal drug trafficking crimes.  Five remain fugitives.  In addition to the 15 arrested on drug trafficking charges, 2 individuals were arrested for alleged violations of the terms of their pretrial release having been arrested in May on assault-related charges, along with 10 other individuals, during the Tuba City violent offender initiative—the first phase of this community impact initiative.

The Federal Bureau of Investigation, the Navajo Nation Department of Public Safety, the Coconino County METRO Drug Task Force and the Drug Enforcement Administration led this enforcement action, with substantial assistance from the United States Marshals Service, the Bureau of Indian Affairs and the Arizona Department of Public Safety.

United States Attorney John S. Leonardo said, “This joint investigation is an example of the impact that federal, state and tribal law enforcement agencies can have in disrupting drug trafficking activity in Indian Country when they coordinate their resources.”

FBI Special Agent in Charge Douglas G. Price stated he wanted “to thank our law enforcement partners not only for the assistance they provided during this specific drug operation but the assistance they provide on a regular basis.”

Navajo Nation Captain Harry Sombrero, who currently serves as Director of Criminal Investigations, also said, “The undercover drug investigation was conducted over a period of months and involved hundreds of hours of team investigative work. It is believed that these arrests will have a significant impact on the local drug trafficking network. The credit goes to the field investigators for their commitment, dedication and hard work to keep the community safe.”

Convictions for the drug offenses currently charged, which involve trafficking of methamphetamine and cocaine, carry penalties up to 20 years in prison and $1,000,000 in fines.

Although these individuals have been charged with federal crimes by way of Complaint or Indictment, these charging documents are simply methods by which a person is charged with criminal activity and raise no inference of guilt.  An individual is presumed innocent until competent evidence is presented to a jury that establishes guilt beyond a reasonable doubt.

The prosecution is being handled by Dimitra H. Sampson of Phoenix and Adam Zickerman of Flagstaff, Assistant U.S. Attorneys, District of Arizona.

FEDERAL ADVISORY COMMITTEE EXAMINES JUVENILE COURTS AND JUSTICE SYSTEM PROGRAMS FOR AMERICAN INDIAN CHILDREN EXPOSED TO VIOLENCE

SCOTTSDALE, Ariz.— More than 30 tribal leaders, juvenile court judges, child advocates, juvenile justice system experts and community members from the Salt River Pima-Maricopa Indian Community testified today in the second public hearing of the Advisory Committee of the Attorney General’s Task Force on American Indian and Alaska Native Children Exposed to Violence.  The hearing focused on how juvenile courts and other programs within tribal juvenile justice systems address the impact of children’s exposure to violence.

“Too many native children encounter violence in their homes and communities that can disrupt a path to living healthy adult lives, and we must do all that we can to protect these young people,” said Associate Attorney General Tony West.  “By intervening early, we can help these children avoid a fate involving courts and the corrections system.”

During the hearing, experts explained how children entering tribal, state or federal justice systems are screened and treated for trauma from previous exposure to violence.   They also discussed a variety of issues facing Native children in juvenile justice systems, including the availability of legal representation, tribal court transfer of juvenile cases to adult courts, culturally sensitive programs and services that divert youth from entering the juvenile justice system.

“The long-term impact of a child’s exposure to violence depends heavily on how law enforcement officials, prosecutors, defenders, judges, and corrections professionals handle that child’s case,” said Assistant Attorney General of the Office of Justice Programs Karol V. Mason.  “Through the work of the task force, we hope to find ways to make the justice system a force for positive change in a young person’s life.”

The Attorney General’s Task Force on American Indian and Alaska Native Children exposed to violence is comprised of a federal working group that includes U.S. Attorneys and officials from the Departments of the Interior and Justice and an advisory committee of experts on American Indian studies, child health and trauma, victim services and child welfare and law.

The 13-member advisory committee is co-chaired by former U.S. Sen. Byron Dorgan and Iroquois composer and singer Joanne Shenandoah.  The advisory committee will draw upon research and information gathered through public hearings to draft a final report of policy recommendations that it will present to Attorney General Eric Holder by late 2014.

Attorney General  Holder created the task force in April 2013 as part of his Defending Childhood initiative to prevent and reduce children’s exposure to violence as victims and witnesses.  The task force is also a component of the Justice Department’s ongoing collaboration with leaders in American Indian and Alaska Native communities to improve public safety.

The advisory committee held its first public hearing Dec. 9, 2013, in Bismarck, N.D. and will hold additional public hearings, in Fort Lauderdale, Fla. and Anchorage, Alaska.

For more information about the advisory committee and public hearings, please visit www.justice.gov/defendingchildhood.

The Office of Justice Programs (OJP), headed by Assistant Attorney General Karol V. Mason, provides federal leadership in developing the nation’s capacity to prevent and control crime, administer justice and assist victims. OJP has six components: the Bureau of Justice Assistance; the Bureau of Justice Statistics; the National Institute of Justice; the Office of Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention; the Office for Victims of Crime and the Office of Sex Offender Sentencing, Monitoring, Apprehending, Registering and Tracking. More information about OJP can be found at www.ojp.gov.

ASSOCIATE ATTORNEY GENERAL TONY WEST AT THE ATTORNEY GENERAL’S ADVISORY COMMITTEE ON AMERICAN INDIAN/ALASKA NATIVE CHILDREN EXPOSED TO VIOLENCE HEARING

Salt River Pima-Maricopa Indian Community, Ariz.

Thank you, Senator Dorgan.  I’m very pleased to be here with you, Ms. Shenandoah, and all the members of the Attorney General’s Advisory Committee on American Indian and Alaska Native Children Exposed to Violence.  And thank you, President Enos, for your support and partnership in hosting this public hearing of the Advisory Committee.  Your remarks will resonate throughout the hearing today and your hospitality is greatly appreciated.

I want to recognize the United States Attorneys who are with us today:  Judge [John] Leonardo from the District of Arizona, John Walsh from the District of Colorado, Steven Yarbrough from the District of New Mexico, Mike Ormsby from the Eastern District of Washington and Amanda Marshall from the District of Oregon.

And my thanks goes out to all of the U.S. Attorneys here for making the journey to join us today and for the leadership they are providing in their districts.

And let me extend my appreciation to Assistant Secretary for Indian Affairs, Kevin Washburn.  Kevin, thank you for your presence and for your agency’s invaluable partnership with the Department of Justice.

I’d also like to acknowledge some of my Department of Justice colleagues who traveled with me from Washington – from the Office of Justice Programs, Mary Lou Leary, Bob Listenbee, and Jim Antal; from our Office of Tribal Justice, Tracy Toulou; and joining me from my office are Anna Martinez and Cindy Chang.  I’m very glad they could be here today.

And a special “thank you” to our witnesses and speakers.  We’re grateful for your participation, and we look forward to hearing your insights and experiences.

We’ve come together today – from communities throughout the southwest and from across the country – to address a serious and urgent problem: the problem of violence and its effect on American Indian and Alaska Native children.

We know that more than 60 percent of all children in the United States are exposed to some form of violence, crime, or abuse, ranging from brief encounters as witnesses to serious violent episodes as victims.  Almost 40 percent are direct victims of 2 or more violent acts.

And for our children who are American Indian and Alaska Native, current research doesn’t give us a complete picture of its scope, but we know that they native are particularly vulnerable to encountering violence and trauma.  A 2008 report by the Indian Country Child Trauma Center calculated that native youth are two-and-a-half times more likely to experience trauma when compared with their non-native peers.

We know from our work in Indian Country that rates of crime and violence in some tribal areas are alarming, and we know that often it is children who see it, children who experience it, children who live with it.

Today’s hearing, the second of four, is part of the larger work President Obama and Attorney General Eric Holder have pursued to fulfill this nation’s trust responsibility to American Indians, to invest in Native communities, and work in partnership with sovereign tribal nations and Alaska Native communities to address the unique and persistent challenges they face.

And over the last four years we’ve made important progress:

Almost 1,000 grant awards to tribes totaling nearly $440 million over the last four years to improve public safety in tribal communities;

Our partnership with tribes to make sure they have the assistance and legal leverage they need to protect native women;

Our work to improve the safety of tribal communities by prosecuting more cases in Indian country — up by more than 50 percent in the last four years.

And this hearing in particular grows out of the work that Attorney General Holder began three years ago with a new initiative he called “Defending Childhood.”  The goal of Defending Childhood was to improve our knowledge about what works to reduce children’s exposure to violence and how to lessen the long-term adverse impacts of that exposure when it does occur.

And as part of that effort, as many of you know, the Attorney General appointed a national Task Force – co-chaired by my colleague Bob Listenbee – to identify ways to reduce children’s exposure to violence and to recommend policy changes at the federal level to meet that goal.

One of those recommendations was to create a special effort aimed at examining and addressing the exposure of American Indian and Alaska Native children to violence, in ways that recognize the unique government-to-government relationship between sovereign tribal nations and the United States — a special effort that is embodied in this Task Force on American Indian and Alaska Native Children Exposed to Violence.

Now the Task Force is different from most Washington blue ribbon panels you may have heard about.

First, it’s structure is different.  It’s comprised of two groups.  The first is a Federal Working Group consisting of knowledgeable, high-ranking federal officials from the Departments of Justice, Interior and Health and Human Services — folks like Kevin Washburn, Tracy Toulou, Amanda Marshall, Tim Purdon and Leslie Hagen — names many of you know well because they work with tribal communities every day.

And their charge is to cut through the organizational red tape that can sometimes bind our best efforts and work together to fix those things affecting native youth that we already know are broken — things that we’ve long ago identified as problems that need attention — and to pool resources, information and energy across our different agencies to take immediate action that will have a positive impact on kids’ lives right now.

So over the last several months, this group has facilitated the delivery of educational services in BIA juvenile detention facilities; coordinated wrap-around services for child victims of crime who come in contact with the federal judicial system;  improved judicial training opportunities on the Indian Child Welfare Act; and so much more.

The second part of the task force is the group meeting here today – the Federal Advisory Committee.  Now, their job is to improve our understanding of native children’s exposure to violence and develop a strategic plan of action that will guide practitioners and policymakers at all levels.  They began their field work in December, when they held their first hearing in Bismarck, North Dakota.

And here in Salt River, we will continue to explore this issue and to look for solutions.  Our goal today is to look specifically at the juvenile justice system and the role juvenile courts and detention facilities – at the tribal, state, and federal level – can play in supporting native children who have been exposed to violence.

Sadly, we know that the road to involvement in the juvenile justice system is often paved by experiences of victimization and trauma.  The rate of Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder for Indian youth is almost triple the rate of the general population and is comparable to the rates of PTSD among soldiers returning from the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan.  The last thing we want is for our tribal, state, and federal juvenile justice institutions to be part of a tragic cycle of victimization and violence.  So we must make sure that our juvenile facilities are agents of positive change, not enablers of more self-destructive choices.

But we also have to talk about how we can work with tribes to figure out the best ways we can lessen the experiences of victimization and trauma experience by native youth in the first instance.  We have to explore approaches that recognize what’s different about native youth; approaches that recognize that, according to the CDC, suicide is the second leading cause of death among American Indians/Alaska Natives aged 15- to 34-years and is 2.5 times higher than the national average for that age group;

Approaches that reflect an awareness about historical trauma — an awareness about efforts to eliminate native culture such as forced relocation, removal of children who were sent to boarding schools, prohibitions on the practice of native language and cultural traditions, and the outlawing of traditional religious practices — historical trauma that has affected multiple generations of First Americans;

Approaches that reflect the reality in which our native youth are living.

Something we were reminded of just yesterday, when we met with 15 members of the Youth Council here — young, bright, intelligent individuals, nearly all in high school and college-bound; individuals who are taking on leadership roles in their communities and who will be the next generation of leadership not just for their tribes but beyond as well.

By a show of hands, we asked them how many of them had a family member who had gone to college.  Only three hands went up.

And when we asked how many of them knew someone who had died from suicide.  Every hand was raised.

We can do better than that.  We can reverse those numbers.  And more important, those young people?  They believe they can reverse those numbers. They believe that we can reverse the tide of despair and change history’s course.

So I left that meeting feeling hopeful and confident about the work we’re doing – all of us – together, and committed to working even harder to reduce violence in our tribal communities.  Those young people aren’t giving up.  And if they’re not giving up, we’re not giving up.

This work won’t be easy – and answers will not come quickly.  Indeed, we are looking not for the easy answer, but for long-term solutions – systemic solutions that will make a difference for our children.

Let us reaffirm our commitment to the safety and health of tribal communities.  And let us rededicate ourselves to giving native children a future unclouded by violence and brightened by hope.  This is the responsibility of every one of us.

Thank you for your commitment to this work.

TRIBAL JUSTICE NEWS – August 9, 2013

Crownpoint Woman Pleads Guilty to Federal Involuntary Manslaughter (U.S. Attorney’s Office, District of New Mexico)

On Aug. 7, 2013, U.S. Attorney Kenneth J. Gonzales announced that Sherie Rena Pete, an enrolled member of the Navajo Nation who resides in Iyanbito, N.M., pleaded guilty to a felony information charging her with involuntary manslaughter. Pete was arrested on May 14, 2013 on a criminal complaint charging her with involuntary manslaughter based on a single motor vehicle crash on May 5, 2013, in Iyanbito, which is located on the Navajo Indian Reservation that resulted in the death of a three year-old child.

http://www.justice.gov/usao/nd/news/news.html

Shiprock Man Pleads Guilty to Federal Assault Charge (U.S. Attorney’s Office, District of New Mexico)

On Aug. 6, 2013, U.S. Attorney Kenneth J. Gonzales announced that Tyrell Elliot Frank, an enrolled member of the Navajo Nation who resides in Shiprock, N.M., pleaded guilty to assault resulting in serious bodily injury.  Frank will be sentenced to 41 months in federal prison followed by a term of supervised release to be determined by the court. Frank has been in federal custody since his arrest on April 1, 2012.

http://www.justice.gov/usao/nd/news/news.html

Beclabito Man Sentenced to Federal Prison for Involuntary Manslaughter (U.S. Attorney’s Office, District of New Mexico)

On Aug. 1, 2013, U.S. Attorney Kenneth J. Gonzales announced that Stanford Benally, an enrolled member of the Navajo Nation who resides in Beclabito, N.M., was sentenced to 30 months in federal prison followed by five years of supervised release for his involuntary manslaughter conviction. Benally was arrested on Sept. 11, 2012 on an indictment charging him with second degree murder and involuntary manslaughter. Benally pleaded guilty on March 22, 2013 to an involuntary manslaughter charge and admitted that on May 19, 2012, he killed his daughter by negligently failing to provide care or seeking medical assistance for her and admitted his criminal act took place on the Navajo Indian Reservation.

http://www.justice.gov/usao/nd/news/news.html

TRIBAL JUSTICE NEWS: April 9, 2013

Violence Against Women Advocacy Group Names U.S. Attorney Brendan Johnson Prosecutor of the Year

The South Dakota Domestic Violence Coordinating Committee (SDVCC) has chosen Brendan Johnson as their Prosecutor of the Year. Brendan Johnson began his career prosecuting violence against women cases as a state prosecutor and has been the U.S. Attorney for the District of South Dakota since 2009. During this time the U.S. Attorney’s office has made human trafficking, domestic abuse and sexual violence a priority, and prosecution rates have increased.

“Brendan has demonstrated a heartfelt commitment to protecting women and holding defendants accountable,” said Brenda Hill, Native Co-Director of SD Coalition Ending Domestic & Sexual Violence, praised the selection. “He truly comprehends the entire continuum of violence against women and strongly supports our efforts to reduce domestic and sexual violence. Brendan Johnson is an excellent role model and provides remarkable leadership.”

The SDDVCC is an organization led by the South Dakota Coalition Ending Domestic & Sexual Violence and the South Dakota Network Against Family Violence and Sexual Assault. The organization includes law enforcement leaders from the state, federal, and tribal levels and is designed to protect and represent the interests of survivors of domestic and sexual assault.

Krista Heeren-Graber, Director of the SD Network Against Family Violence and Sexual Assault, also applauded the selection. “Brendan has an impressive track record in the fight against domestic violence. His grit and determination to bring these perpetrators to justice has been a turning point in the lives of several victims. Quite simply, he has given them hope,” said Heeren-Graber.

“I am extremely honored to receive this award, but want to recognize the work of my entire office and our law enforcement partners. Without them, none of this is possible,” said Johnson. “I’ve appreciated the opportunity to work with violence against women advocates and am proud of our shared accomplishments. Progress has been made, but there is more work to be done.”

http://www.justice.gov/usao/sd/pressreleases/SF-2013-03-14-Prosecutorofyear.html 

*******

In Focus: The Violence Against Women Reauthorization Act of 2013 

Congress recently passed the Violence Against Women Reauthorization Act of 2013, or “VAWA 2013.”  This new law includes significant provisions addressing tribal jurisdiction over non-Indian perpetrators of domestic violence.  These tribal provisions were proposed by the Justice Department in 2011.  They allow tribal authorities to exercise their sovereign power to investigate, prosecute, convict, and sentence both Indians and non-Indians who assault Indian spouses or dating partners or violate a protection order in Indian country. VAWA 2013 also clarifies tribes’ sovereign power to issue and enforce civil protection orders against Indians and non-Indians.  While tribal participation is voluntary, the authority of U.S. Attorneys (and relevant state/local prosecutors) to prosecute crimes in Indian country remains unchanged.  With these provisions, tribes’ criminal jurisdiction over non-Indians will be limited to cases of domestic violence, dating violence, and criminal violations of protection orders.  It is important to note that this law generally does not take effect until March 7, 2015.  Earlier tribal participation may be allowed under a Pilot Project if specific guidelines are met.

For more information, see http://www.justice.gov/tribal/vawa-tribal.html.

*******

Significant Criminal Prosecutions

NEW MEXICO 

Reehahlio Carroll Pleads Guilty to Murdering Catholic Nun During Commission of a Burglary on The Navajo Reservation (U.S. Attorney’s Office, District of New Mexico)

On April 5, 2013, U.S. Attorney Kenneth J. Gonzales announced that Reehahlio Carroll, 21, an enrolled member of the Navajo Nation, pleaded guilty to a second degree murder charge under an agreement that requires him to serve a 40 year federal prison sentence. U.S. Attorney Gonzales was joined in the announcement by Special Agent in Charge Carol K.O. Lee of the Albuquerque Division of the FBI, and John Billison, Director of the Navajo Nation Division of Public Safety.

Carroll was arrested in November 2009, based on federal charges arising out of the murder of Sister Marguerite Bartz of the Order of the Sisters of the Blessed Sacrament. The murder occurred on Nov. 1, 2009, during the burglary of Sister Bartz’s home on the Saint Berard Mission which is located on the Navajo Indian Reservation. Proceedings in the case were delayed by protracted competency proceedings resulting in a judicial finding that Carroll was competent to stand trial.

In announcing the guilty plea, U.S. Attorney Gonzales said, “No one, especially one who had dedicated her life to the service of others, should have to endure the brutal and terrifying death that Sister Marguerite Bartz suffered at the hands of Reehahlio Carroll.  Although Carroll’s guilty plea cannot atone for the loss of Sister Marguerite’s life, I hope that it can bring a measure of solace to her biological family and her spiritual family as well as the community she chose to serve.”

http://www.justice.gov/usao/nm/pr/2013/2013-04-05_carroll_pr.pdf

Cudi, N.M., Man Sentenced to Prison for Federal Involuntary Manslaughter Conviction (U.S. Attorney’s Office, District of New Mexico)

On April 4, 2013, U.S. Attorney Kenneth J. Gonzales announced that Jervis Wilson, 20, an enrolled member of the Navajo Nation, was sentenced to 37 months in prison followed by three years of supervised release for his involuntary manslaughter conviction.

In Nov. 2012, Wilson pleaded guilty to killing Herman Willeto, a 52-year-old Navajo man, while driving under the influence of alcohol in March 2012 on the Navajo Indian Reservation.

According to court records, on March 2, 2012, Wilson drank alcohol and then drove a vehicle recklessly. Wilson struck a Jeep, causing property damage and then continued driving at a high rate of speed and side-swiped a Dodge sedan, causing moderate damage to the sedan and minor injuries to the driver. As Wilson continued to drive, his vehicle struck a Ford truck that was towing an excavator on a flatbed trailer. Mr. Willeto, the driver of the truck, was killed on impact.

http://www.justice.gov/usao/nm/pr/2013/2013-04-04_wilson_pr.pdf

Beclabito, N.M., Man Pleads Guilty to Involuntary Manslaughter Charge (U.S. Attorney’s Office, District of New Mexico)

On March 22, 2013, U.S. Attorney Kenneth J. Gonzales announced that Stanford Benally, 41, an enrolled member of the Navajo Nation, pleaded guilty to an involuntary manslaughter charge under a plea agreement.

Benally was arrested in September 2012, on an indictment charging him with second degree murder and involuntary manslaughter. The second degree murder charge alleged that Benally caused the death of a minor female by serving her liquor and failing to provide care and seek medical attention for her in a manner that evinced a callous and wanton disregard for human life. The involuntary manslaughter charge alleged that Benally caused the death of victim, who was unconscious and intoxicated, by negligently failing to provide care or to seek medical assistance for the victim.

Benally pleaded guilty to the involuntary manslaughter charge.  In entering his guilty plea, Benally admitted that, on May 19, 2012, he killed his daughter by negligently failing to provide care or seeking medical assistance.

http://www.justice.gov/usao/nm/pr/2013/2013-03-22_benally_pr.pdf

Former Employee of Santa Ana Star Casino Pleads Guilty to Embezzling Money From The Casino (U.S. Attorney’s Office, District of New Mexico)

On March 20, 2013, U.S. Attorney Kenneth J. Gonzales announced that John Hoffman, 42, entered a guilty plea to the felony offense of theft by an employee of an Indian gaming establishment. His wife and accomplice, Michelle Fischer, 42, entered a guilty plea to the misdemeanor offense of theft from an Indian gaming establishment.

Hoffman pleaded guilty to a felony information charging him with embezzling money belonging to the Santa Ana Star Casino, from December 2010 to August 2011. Hoffman admitted that he abused his position at the Santa Ana Star Casino by gaining access to active and inactive “Player’s Club” cards and adding money and credits to the cards without proper basis or authority.  Hoffman further admitted that he then gave the cards to Fischer knowing that she intended to distribute the cards to others who would use the cards to gamble.

Fischer pleaded guilty to misdemeanor information charging her with theft of money belonging to the Santa Ana Star Casino. At sentencing, Hoffman faces a maximum penalty of 20 years in prison and Fischer faces a maximum penalty of one year in prison.

http://www.justice.gov/usao/nm/pr/2013/2013-03-20_hoffman_pr.pdf

ARIZONA 

Navajo Man Sentenced to 180 Months In prison For Sexual Abuse (U.S. Attorney’s Office, District of Arizona)

On April 2, 2013, U.S. Attorney John S. Leonardo announced that On April 1, 2013, Kelbert Jay Nez, 22, was sentenced to 180 months in prison.  Nez pleaded guilty to sexual abuse.

Nez was charged by indictment with two counts of aggravated sexual abuse of a minor and one count of sexual abuse. The charges in the indictment addressed the sexual abuse of two minor victims, ages 10 and 13 at the time of the abuse. The offense occurred on the Navajo Reservation.

Navajo Man Pleads Guilty to Assault and Gun Charges (U.S. Attorney’s Office, District of Arizona)

On March 18, 2013, U.S. Attorney John S. Leonardo announced that Lee Kinder Tso, 50, a member of the Navajo Nation, pleaded guilty in federal district court to assault with a dangerous weapon and brandishing a firearm during a crime of violence.

Tso had been charged with four counts of assault and four counts of using a firearm during a crime of violence.  On Feb. 3, 2012, Tso used a rifle to shoot two victims on the Navajo Nation Indian Reservation, causing the victims serious physical injury.

http://www.justice.gov/usao/az/press_releases/2013/PR_03182013_Tso.html

Tohono O’odham Man Sentenced To 16-1/2 Years For Child Sexual Abuse (U.S. Attorney’s Office, District of Arizona)

On March 27, 2013, U.S. Attorney John S. Leonardo announced that Curtis Michael Garcia, 33, was sentenced to 16-1/2 years in prison. Following incarceration, Garcia will be on lifetime supervision with sex offender conditions, including registering as a sex offender. Garcia, a member of the Tohono O’odham Nation, pleaded guilty on Aug. 31, 2012, to two counts of abusive sexual contact. Between March 1 and May 30, 2009, Garcia sexually abused two minor females on the Tohono O’odham Nation.

http://www.justice.gov/usao/az/press_releases/2013/PR_03282013_Garcia.html

MICHIGAN

Man Indicted for Aggravated Sexual Abuse Against Children on Indian Reservation (U.S. Attorney’s Office, Eastern District of Michigan)

On March 19, 2013, U.S. Attorney Barbara L. McQuade announced that John Charles Hart, 47, was arraigned after being indicted on March 13, 2013, by a federal grand jury in Bay City, Michigan for four counts of aggravated sexual abuse.

The incidents charged in the indictments spanned from 1996 to 2007 and involved two different victims on the Isabella Reservation. The indictment alleges that Hart strangled one of the victims while he raped her when she was 14 or 15 years old and sexually assaulted the other victim when she was six years old. If convicted, Hart faces a minimum of 30 years to life in prison.

MINNESOTA 

Federal Jury Finds Native Mob Gang Members Guilty of Attempted Murder, Racketeering, and Other Charges (U.S. Attorney’s Office, District of Minnesota)

On March 19, 2013, U.S. Attorney B. Todd Jones announced that a jury found three members of the Native Mob street gang guilty on a number of charges related to the gang’s criminal activity. The jury found Wakinyon Wakan McArthur guilty on six counts, William Earl Morris guilty on four counts, and Anthony Francis Cree guilty on six counts, including racketeering and attempted murder (read the full release for specific charges).

The Native Mob is a regional criminal gang that originated in Minneapolis in the early 1990s. Members routinely engage in drug trafficking, assault, robbery, and murder. Membership is estimated at 200, with new members, including juveniles, regularly recruited from communities with large, male, Native American populations. Association with the gang is often signified by wearing red and black clothing or sporting gang-related tattoos. According to the 2011 National Gang Threat Assessment, the Native Mob is one of the largest and most violent American Indian gangs in the U.S. and is most active in Minnesota and Wisconsin.

The evidence presented at trial proved that since at least the mid-1990s, the named defendants and others have conspired to conduct criminal activity through an “enterprise,” namely, the Native Mob, in violation of the federal Racketeering Influenced and Corrupt Organizations Act (RICO).

To that end, gang members distribute illegal drugs, from crack cocaine to ecstasy. They also provide monetary support to other members, including those incarcerated; share with one another police reports, victim statements, and other case discovery; hinder or obstruct officials from identifying or apprehending those wanted by the law; and intimidate witnesses to Native Mob crimes. Moreover, they maintain and circulate firearms for gang use and commit acts of violence, including murder, against individuals associated with rival gangs.

  • On Dec. 21, 2012, Shaun Michael Martinez, also known as Tinez, pleaded guilty to one count of murder resulting from the use and carrying of a firearm during and in relation to a crime of violence.

According to the evidence presented at trial, the defendants committed numerous overt acts as evidence of their “criminal enterprise”:

  • On March 4, 2010, McArthur, Cree, and others attempted to kill a man by shooting him three times with a .40-caliber handgun, the attack being in retaliation for the man’s supposed cooperation with law enforcement.
  • On March 7, 2010, in south Minneapolis, Native Mob members attempted to kill a Native Vice Lord gang member by shooting him in the neck.
  • On Aug. 24, 2010, McArthur ordered members of the Native Mob a drive-by shooting of a rival gang member’s apartment in Bemidji.
  • On March 28, 2011, McArthur ordered members of the Native Mob to conduct a home invasion in Cass Lake.

For their crimes, the defendants who were tried and convicted in this case face a potential maximum sentence of between 20 years and life in federal prison. Since the federal justice system does not have parole, prison terms will be served virtually in their entirety behind bars. U.S. District Court Judge John R. Tunheim will determine their sentences at a future hearing, yet to be scheduled.

http://www.justice.gov/usao/mn/nativemobconvictions.html

Blackduck man indicted for involuntary manslaughter (U.S. Attorney’s Office, District of Minnesota)

On March 25, 2013, U.S. Attorney B. Todd Jones announced that Dustin Michael Johnson, 27, was indicted in connection with the Oct. 23, 2012, death of a young woman.

The indictment alleges that on October 23 Johnson killed the woman without malice. It alleges that Johnson was operating a motor vehicle while under the influence of alcohol and crashed. The victim, who was a passenger in the vehicle, was killed. If convicted, Johnson faces a potential maximum penalty of eight years in prison on each count.

http://www.justice.gov/usao/mn/dustinjohnsonindicted.html

     MONTANA 

Ryan James Parker Sentenced in U.S. District Court (U.S. Attorney’s Office, District of Montana)

On April 1, 2013, U.S. Attorney Michael W. Cotter announced that Ryan James Parker, a 26-year-old enrolled member of the Rocky Boy’s Indian Reservation, was sentenced to a term of 37 months in prison to be followed by three years of supervised release. He was also ordered to pay $3,998 in restitution and a special assessment of $100. Parker was sentenced in connection with his guilty plea to involuntary manslaughter.

In an Offer of Proof, the government stated it would have proved at trial the following: On June 14, 2012, on the Rocky Boy’s Indian Reservation, Parker caused a collision between the vehicle he was driving and another vehicle in which an individual died. Parker was intoxicated at the time of the collision

http://www.justice.gov/usao/mt/pressreleases/20130402143035.html

NEBRASKA

Winnebago Man Sentenced for Assault on a Federal Officer (U.S. Attorney’s Office, District of Nebraska)

On March 25, 2013, U. S. Attorney Deborah R. Gilg announced that Landon J. Blackdeer, age 26, was sentenced upon his conviction for assaulting a federal officer. Senior U.S. District Court Judge Richard G. Kopf sentenced Blackdeer to twelve months and one day of in prison to be followed by three years of supervised release.

Blackdeer was arrested in June 2012 by a uniformed officer of the Winnebago Police Department. Blackdeer had managed to get free of his handcuffs and attempted to flee when the officer opened the door to the police vehicle. A brief struggle ensued before the officer was able to gain control of Blackdeer. During the struggle, Blackdeer punched and elbowed the officer several times.

 

NORTH DAKOTA 

Cannon Ball Man Sentenced for Assaulting a Federal Officer (U.S. Attorney’s Office, District of North Dakota)

U.S. Attorney Timothy Q. Purdon announced that on March 27, 2013, Raymond Blue Arm, 40, was sentenced by U.S. District Judge Daniel L. Hovland on a charge of assaulting a federal officer. Blue Arm pleaded guilty to the charge in November 2012.

Judge Hovland sentenced Blue Arm to 10 months in federal prison, to be followed by three years of supervised release. Blue Arm was also ordered to pay a $100 special assessment to the Crime Victim’s Fund. On July 4, 2012, at Prairie Knights Casino, Blue Arm was harassing patrons and was asked to leave, but he refused. When law enforcement officers arrived, Blue Arm used a backpack to hit one of the officers.

http://www.justice.gov/usao/nd/news/2013/03-27-13-Blue%20Arm%20Sentenced.html

OKLAHOMA 

Moore Man Who Stole Veteran Grave Markers From Tribal Cemetery To Sell For Salvage Will Serve Prison Time (U.S. Attorney’s Office, Western District of Oklahoma)

On March 26, 2013, U.S. Attorney Sanford C. Coats announced that Jason P. Paras, 33, of Moore, Oklahoma, was sentenced to serve four months in prison for the theft of two grave markers from a Kiowa-Comanche-Apache Intertribal Cemetery. Paras was charged in Sept. 2012 and pleaded guilty in Oct. 2012.

Paras admitted that in June of 2012 he stole several brass grave markers from the Deyo Mission Cemetery, a Kiowa-Comanche-Apache Intertribal Cemetery located on Indian trust land. Paras admitted he stole the brass markers to sell as scrap metal. One of the grave markers was that of a Comanche Tribal member and “Comanche Code Talker” from World War II. Another marker belonged to Comanche tribal member who was a Vietnam veteran. As part of the sentence, Paras will be required to pay to replace the two markers he stole and sold as scrap metal.

http://www.justice.gov/usao/okw/news/2013/2013_03_26_2.html 

OREGON

Pendleton Man Sentenced to 21 Months in Federal Prison for Vehicular Homicide (U.S. Attorney’s Office, District of Oregon)

On March 18, 2013, U.S. Attorney S. Amanda Marshall announced that Roberto Medellin, 54, was sentenced 21months in prison by U. S. District Judge Ancer L. Haggerty for vehicular homicide. In December 2012, the defendant pleaded guilty to involuntary manslaughter. Judge Haggerty ordered the defendant to spend three years on supervised release, during which the defendant must not possess or consume alcohol.

On May 14, 2012, on the Umatilla Indian Reservation, Medellin was driving his jeep on a highway in which Misty Dawn Sheoships, a member of the White Mountain Apache Tribe, was a passenger. The vehicle went off the highway, crashed into a ditch, and Sheoships died as a result due to severe head and neck trauma. In a mirandized statement, Medellin said that he had been drinking earlier in the afternoon, prior to going out driving, and that he had fallen asleep at the wheel.

http://www.justice.gov/usao/or/PressReleases/2013/20130318_medellin.html

SOUTH DAKOTA 

Pine Ridge Man Receives 30-Year Sentence for Second Degree Murder (U.S. Attorney’s Office, District of South Dakota)

On April 1, 2013, U.S. Attorney Brendan V. Johnson announced that Kyle C. Yankton, 22, was sentenced for Second Degree Murder by Chief Judge Jeffrey L. Viken, U.S. District Court.

Yankton was sentenced to 30 years’ in prison, 5 years of supervised release, and a $100 special assessment to the Victim Assistance Fund. Yankton pleaded guilty to the Second Degree Murder charge in Nov. 2012.

The murder charge stems from an incident on June 30, 2012 when Yankton unlawfully and forcibly entered a residence in Pine Ridge. Pablo Galindo was sleeping in the basement of the residence, where Yankton located him and struck Galindo multiple times in the head with a baseball hat, causing death by blunt force trauma.

http://www.justice.gov/usao/sd/pressreleases/RC-2013-04-01-Yankton.html

Mission Man Sentenced for Assault by Habitual Domestic Offender (U.S. Attorney’s Office, District of South Dakota)

On March 27, 2013, U.S. Attorney Brendan V. Johnson announced that Willard Dorian, age 36, was sentenced to 38 months, 2 years of supervised release, and a $100 special assessment to the Victim Assistance Fund by U.S. District Judge Roberto A. Lange after his conviction of Assault by Habitual Domestic Offender.

Dorian was indicted by a federal grand jury in June 2012 and pleaded guilty to the charge in Jan. 2013. The conviction stems from an incident that took place on July 3, 2011 when Dorian assaulted his domestic partner causing her bodily injury.

http://www.justice.gov/usao/sd/pressreleases/Pierre-2013-03-27-Dorian.html

Porcupine Woman Pleads Guilty to Controlled Substance Charge (U.S. Attorney’s Office, District of South Dakota)

On March 25, 2013, U.S. Attorney Brendan V. Johnson announced that Cassie Winters, 28, appeared before U.S. Magistrate Judge Veronica L. Duffy on March 19, 2013 and pleaded guilty to conspiracy to distribute a controlled substance. The charge relates to Winters’ conspiring with others to distribute at least 100 kilograms or more of marijuana in South Dakota between 2008 and 2012.

http://www.justice.gov/usao/sd/pressreleases/RC-2013-03-25-Winters.html

WYOMING 

Wyoming Man Indicted for Violent Assaults (U.S. Attorney’s Office, District of Wyoming)

On March 27, 2013, U.S. Attorney Christopher A. Crofts announced that Bryson Brown of the Wind River Indian Reservation appeared in Federal Court in relation to a four count indictment charging him with one count of Assault with a Dangerous Weapon with Intent to do Bodily Harm, one count of Assault Resulting in Serious Bodily Injury and two counts of using and carrying a firearm during and in relation to a crime of violence, in connection with a domestic violence incident. The charges carry a maximum penalty of ten years to life.

http://www.justice.gov/usao/wy/news/2013/03march/13-021_march27.html

Wyoming Man Charged with Assault Resulting in Serious Bodily Injury and Assault with a Dangerous Weapon with Intent to do Bodily Harm (U.S. Attorney’s Office, District of Wyoming)

U.S. Attorney for the District of Wyoming Christopher A. Crofts announced that on March 21, 2013, Shawn Antelope, Jr., a 19-year-old Northern Arapaho Tribal Member, was charged in an indictment with one count of assault resulting in serious bodily injury and one count of assault with a dangerous weapon with intent to do bodily harm in violation. The charges against Antelope stem from an incident that occurred in Aug. 2012 and an incident that occurred in Dec. 2012, both on the Wind River Indian Reservation. Antelope is facing a potential ten year term of in prison on each count, and could be ordered to pay restitution, a fine, and special assessment.

http://www.justice.gov/usao/wy/news/2013/03march/13-023_march28.html