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.

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.

Dennehotso Man Sentenced to 13 Months for Assault on a Navajo Nation Police Officer

PHOENIX– Yesterday, Reed O’Brien Thomas, Jr., 27, from Dennehotso, Ariz., was sentenced by U.S. District Judge G. Murray Snow to 13 months in prison, followed by three years of supervised release. Thomas had previously pleaded guilty to assaulting a federal officer.

The investigation revealed that on August 17, 2016, Navajo Nation police officers responded to a domestic dispute on the Navajo Indian Reservation. Thomas fought with the officers, and during the struggle, one of the officers sustained a broken finger. Thomas is an enrolled member of the Navajo Nation. The officers at the time were delegated authority to enforce federal law.

The investigation in this case was conducted by the Federal Bureau of Investigation. The prosecution was handled by Dimitra H. Sampson, Assistant U.S. Attorney, District of Arizona, Phoenix.

CASE NUMBER: CR-16-08219-PCT-GMS

RELEASE NUMBER: 2017-070_Thomas

Third Pinon Brother Sentenced For Violent Assault on Juvenile

PHOENIX – Today, Roneldo James, 28, of Pinon, Ariz., was sentenced by U.S. District Judge G. Murray Snow to eight years of imprisonment, to be followed by three years of supervised release. James had previously pleaded guilty to assault with a dangerous weapon. James committed the offense with his two brothers, Delfred Lee and Milfred James, who were previously sentenced to seven and six years of imprisonment, respectively, for their roles in the offense.

On Dec. 1, 2015, James and his brothers held a juvenile victim and others at gunpoint against their will in a Pinon, Ariz. residence on the Navajo Nation Indian Reservation. All parties involved are members of the Navajo Nation. All three brothers are affiliated with the Red Nation Warriors street gang.

The investigation in this case was conducted by the Federal Bureau of Investigation. The prosecution was handled by Assistant U.S. Attorney Alexander Samuels, District of Arizona, Phoenix.

CASE NUMBER: CR-16-8167-PCT-GMS

RELEASE NUMBER: 2017-078_James

Kayenta Man Sentenced to More Than 27 Years for Kidnapping and Violent Assault

PHOENIX – This week, Eli Sloan, 45, of Kayenta, Ariz., was sentenced by U.S. District Judge Douglas L. Rayes to 330 months of imprisonment, to be followed by a lifetime term of supervised release. Last year, Sloan was convicted of six offenses following a jury trial, including kidnapping, two counts of aggravated sexual abuse, assault with intent to commit aggravated sexual abuse, assault resulting in substantial bodily injury to an intimate partner, and assault by strangling an intimate partner.

On Oct. 4, 2015, Sloan kidnapped the victim and held her overnight in a rural area near Kayenta, Ariz. Eventually, he took her to a trailer, where he held her until the next day. Both Sloan and the victim are members of the Navajo Nation.

The investigation in this case was conducted by the Federal Bureau of Investigation and the Navajo Nation Department of Public Safety. The prosecution was handled by Assistant U.S. Attorneys Alexander Samuels and Sharon Sexton, District of Arizona, Phoenix.

CASE NUMBER: CR-15-8232-PCT-DLR

RELEASE NUMBER: 2017-085_Sloan

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.

JUSTICE DEPARTMENT ANNOUNCES ACTIONS TO STRENGTHEN PUBLIC SAFETY IN INDIAN COUNTRY

Department Will Expand Program that Gives Tribes Access to Federal Crime Data

Opioid Awareness Trainings in Alaska and California Starting This Week

WASHINGTON – The Justice Department today announced recent developments under the Task Force on Crime Reduction and Public Safety to strengthen law enforcement and public safety in Indian country, including the continued expansion of a program that gives tribes access to federal crime data, addressing the opioid crisis, serving victims of sex trafficking, and strengthening investigations into crimes against children.

“We have listened to the concerns of tribal law enforcement, who are dealing with public safety challenges including rising violent crime, the opioid crisis, and human trafficking, often with limited resources and manpower,” said Associate Attorney General Rachel Brand.  “The Justice Department is committed to a strong government-to-government partnership with tribal nations, including sharing valuable crime data and supporting Native American victims of crime.”    

Listening sessions with tribal law enforcement in May and June clarified some of the most pressing public safety issues in Indian country. The following actions will strengthen efforts to address these challenges.

The Department of Justice is expanding the Tribal Access Program (TAP) for National Crime Information in Fiscal Year 2018. TAP provides federally-recognized tribes access to national crime information databases for both civil and criminal purposes.  TAP supports the selected tribes in analyzing their needs for national crime information and provides access, technology and training.

In its first two years, the department has worked collaboratively with tribal governments on the TAP program to help resolve long-standing public safety issues in Indian country, such as the inability to access national crime information databases. 

Any federally-recognized tribe interested in joining TAP is invited to submit an expression of interest between Aug.16, 2017 and Sept. 15, 2017.  For more information about TAP and instructions on submitting a statement of interest, please visit www.justice.gov/tribal/tribal- access-program-tap.

The Department of Justice and the Department of the Interior are hosting two upcoming Opioid Awareness Outreach meetings in August.  The Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA), Executive office for the U.S. Attorneys (EOUSA), and the United States Attorney’s Offices (USAOs) in Alaska and Eastern California, in conjunction with the Department of the Interior’s Bureau of Indian Affairs Office of Justice Services (OJS), are sponsoring and co-hosting these important events. The outreach meetings will commence immediately after tribal consultations on Aug.16 in Anchorage, Alaska and on Aug. 29 in Sacramento, California.  The opioid awareness outreach will include presentations from DEA on the signs of opioid abuse, especially heroin and fentanyl awareness; from BIA’s OJS on Narcan deployment initiatives in Indian country; and from the USAOs on federal drug laws.  These discussions are part of an inter-departmental initiative to address the opioid crisis in Indian country.

“The developments announced today by Attorney General Sessions are vitally important to aiding tribal governments in dealing with and seeking solutions to serious drug, sex trafficking, and crimes against children issues afflicting their communities,” said acting Assistant Secretary of the Department of the Interior for Indian Affairs Michael S. Black.  “I urge tribal leaders and their police departments to take advantage of upcoming opportunities to provide their input on and learn more about ways of addressing these critical areas of public safety in Indian country.  I also want to thank Attorney General Sessions and DOJ for their work in supporting BIA and tribal law enforcement efforts to strengthen public safety in these vulnerable communities.”

The Justice Department’s Office of Justice Programs Diagnostic Center, a training and technical assistance resource, is expanding its presence in Indian country.  At the request of interested tribes, the Diagnostic Center provides customized assistance on a wide range of public safety issues.  Among the issues being addressed in current tribal engagements include information sharing in tribal justice systems and jurisdictional coordination among tribal and local police departments.  For more information about the Diagnostic Center, please see www.ojpdiagnosticcenter.org.

The Office for Victims of Crime (OVC) is developing programs in partnership with Native organizations in Seattle, Chicago, and Albuquerque to provide urban American Indian and Alaska Native victims of sex trafficking with access to culturally appropriate, comprehensive victim services. Funded under OVC’s Project Beacon grant award program, these organizations will work collaboratively with state and local human trafficking task forces, as well as tribal communities, to ensure that American Indian and Alaska Native victims have an opportunity to receive a full complement of services designed to aid them in their recovery and healing from the experience of being trafficked.

Associate Attorney General Brand added: “We are committed to partnering with tribal nations, Native American organizations and others to meet the particular needs of Native American victims of sex trafficking, and to end the scourge of human trafficking more broadly.”

The Department of Justice’s National Indian Country Training Initiative, together with the FBI’s Indian Country Crimes Unit, recently co-sponsored an Indian Country Homicide and Child Abuse Training Seminar. The seminar was attended by FBI Special Agents, Assistant United States Attorneys, Bureau of Indian Affairs Agents and tribal law enforcement from across the country.  The training covered a variety of topics meant to strengthen investigations into crimes against children, such as crime scene management, evidence collection, forensics, interviews, and dealing with victims of violent crime and sexual abuse. 

The Attorney General remains committed to combatting violent crime and maintaining public safety in tribal lands, and will continue to pursue partnerships in support of American Indian and Alaska Native communities.

Kayenta Township Opposes Proposed Navajo Nation Firearms Registration

On Monday May 8, 2017 at 5:30pm the Kayenta Township Commission held its regularly scheduled monthly meeting. Among the agenda items was resolution #KTCMY-30-17 “Opposing Proposed Navajo Nation Council Legislation No. 0114-17 Amending Title 17 of the Navajo Nation Code and Enacting the Navajo Nation Firearms Act”. This legislation was drafted and put forth by Navajo Nation Council Delegate Davis Filfred of Aneth, UT.

This resolution was first presented to the Kayenta Township Commission at last month’s regularly scheduled meeting on April 10, 2017 but was tabled because the Commission wanted community input on the matter. The Commission directed Kayenta Town Manager Gabriel Yazzie to hold a public meeting at the Kayenta Town Hall.

Commissioner Jarvis Williams addresses the audience at the Kayenta public meeting.

This public meeting was held at 10am on May 4, 2017 and conducted by Kayenta Town Manager Gabriel Yazzie. In attendance were community members of Kayenta, the surrounding area and other communities such as Kaibeto and Oljato. Kayenta Township Commissioner Jarvis Williams, Jodonna Hall/Ward and Rodger Grey made it a priority to be at the meeting to hear the public input. Three Navajo Nation police officers were in attendance as well.

Commissioner Hall/Ward addressed the audience first at the meeting and informed the audience that this piece of proposed legislation by Davis Filfred is very important and affects each and every firearm owner on the Navajo Nation. “We want your input on this issue so we can make the right decision for this community.” Stated Ms. Hall/Ward.

Every community member that was in attendance, with the exception of the three Navajo Nation police officers, were opposed to the proposed legislation and voiced their concerns quite openly and candidly. Many stated that as responsible firearm owners they had already followed the mandatory background check when purchasing a firearm and that forcing everyone on the Navajo Nation that owned a firearm(s) to register and be put in a database is not what needs to be done to combat crime on the Navajo Nation.

The Navajo Police officers in attendance justified their support of the legislation by stating that a firearms registry would help them trace a firearm(s) used in a crime to its owner much easier. This was their only justification in support of the proposed Navajo Nation legislation.

In attendance at the public meeting was Kayenta community member Shonie De La Rosa who is an active member of the National Rifle Association and the Arizona Rifle and Pistol Association. Shonie has stated that he will fight this legislation to the very end and people need to be educated on this very important issue. “I completely oppose this legislation. In my opinion there are more important things to worry about than registering firearms. We all know that drugs and alcohol kill far more of our people than firearms do.” He further stated that, “The majority of the crimes on the Navajo Nation are drug and alcohol related and that the Navajo Nation needs to address that issue first.”

A key point that Shonie De La Rosa brought up at the public meeting was the NICS (The National Instant Criminal Background Check System). Excerpt from their web site: Mandated by the Brady Handgun Violence Prevention Act of 1993 and launched by the FBI on November 30, 1998, NICS is used by Federal Firearms Licensees (FFLs) to instantly determine whether a prospective buyer is eligible to buy firearms. Before ringing up the sale, cashiers call in a check to the FBI or to other designated agencies to ensure that each customer does not have a criminal record or isn’t otherwise ineligible to make a purchase.

Shonie stated that local, state, county and federal agencies contribute criminal records to this NICS database and that the Navajo Nation does not contribute to the NICS database. Therefore, anyone on the Navajo Nation convicted of a crime(s) such as domestic violence, drugs, etc. that would by federal law make an individual prohibited to possess firearms could easily purchase a firearm(s) without their Navajo Nation criminal record showing up on the mandatory NICS background check. “If the Navajo Nation would contribute these criminal records to the federal database, it would make a much better impact than the proposed firearms registration Filfred Davis has proposed to the Navajo Nation.” Said Shonie.

Kayenta Town Manager Gabriel Yazzie stated, “This was a very good meeting and we received a lot of good feedback from the community about this issue. I will take the input from this public meeting to redraft the Kayenta Township resolution Opposing Navajo Nation Legislation No. 0114-17 and present it to the commission at our next meeting.”

On May 8, 2017 the redrafted resolution was presented to the Kayenta Township Commission at their regular scheduled monthly meeting. Kayenta Township resolution #KTCMY-30-17 passed that evening with a vote of 3 in favor, 0 opposed and 0 abstained.

“This is the first step in fighting this very important issue. Now that the Kayenta Township has passed this resolution opposing Filfred’s proposed legislation, everyone on the Navajo Nation needs to encourage their community leaders to do the same and pass resolutions in their chapters opposing this legislation.” Said Shonie.

Secretary Zinke Praises Department of Justice Support For Law Enforcement and Public Safety in Indian Country

WASHINGTON – Secretary of the Interior Ryan Zinke praised today’s announcement by the Department of Justice on the progress being made in coordinated federal, state, tribal and local efforts that are reducing the incidence of violent crime across the Nation.

“I am very happy to see that the Indian Country Federal Law Enforcement Coordination Group has been an integral part of this effort and is focusing on violent crime on Tribal reservations,” Secretary Zinke said. “The Federal Government provides significant public safety resources to Indian Country, with numerous departments and agencies delivering and supporting law enforcement services.

“Law enforcement in Indian Country is especially complex, and it is heart-breaking that crimes against Native American women and girls occur at exponentially higher rates than non-Native populations. It’s a subject that I have been especially passionate about since my time representing Montana in the U.S. House of Representatives. With many unique challenges that include sovereignty, jurisdiction, cross deputation, geographically disbursed areas, and cultural awareness among other items. I congratulate the Bureau of Indian Affairs Office of Justice Services, which has co-led the Indian Country Federal Law Enforcement Coordination Group with the Department of Justice Office of Tribal Justice. Under my leadership the Bureau and Department will remain committed to the health and safety of all of Indian Country.

The Indian Country Federal Law Enforcement Coordination Group, an assembly of sworn federal law enforcement officers and other stakeholders who have responsibilities in Indian Country, was created in response to suggestions by federal law enforcement officials who sought to enhance coordination and provide improved federal law enforcement services to Tribal communities.

“For the past two years, we have leveraged tribal, federal, state and local criminal justice partnerships to make a sustained effort to increase the number of reporting agencies using the FBI’s Uniform Crime Report,” said Acting Assistant Secretary for Indian Affairs Michael S. Black.  “This tool allows us to make more accurate comparisons of Indian Country crime to other non-Indian country communities.”

The Group enhances communication and fosters the free exchange of ideas and information between sworn federal law enforcement officers, agents, and other stakeholders who are based in Washington, D.C. and have oversight and/or operational responsibilities in Indian Country. Through better coordination, the goal of this group is to provide improved federal law enforcement services and support to Indian Country, ultimately helping to make Tribal communities safer