WASHINGTON – The Trump Administration this week highlighted efforts made in 2019 by the U.S. Department of the Interior’s Joint Opioid Reduction Task Force in Indian Country, as law enforcement officials successfully led 14 operations across seven states, resulting in more than 313 arrests and the seizure of 2,607 pounds of illegal narcotics with an estimated street value of $19.6 million, more than double the price tag from the previous year.
President Donald J. Trump has made it a priority of his administration to end the drug overdose epidemic that kills approximately 70,000 Americans each year.
“Our Bureau of Indian Affairs officers successfully stopped thousands of pounds of deadly narcotics from reaching tribal communities last year, and they continue to serve with distinction every day,” said U.S. Secretary of the Interior David L. Bernhardt.
“In a time when people are calling to defund the police, the Trump Administration is doing more to protect our citizens from illicit drugs and violence.”
Established by Interior in 2018 and led by the Bureau of Indian Affairs’ Office of Justice Services (OJS) with operational support provided by the Bureau of Land Management, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, National Park Service, U.S. Park Police, and other federal entities including U.S. Customs and Border Protection, Federal Bureau of Investigation, and the Drug Enforcement Administration, the DOI Opioid Reduction Task Force continues to make an impact on illegal drug trafficking in Indian Country.
“The DOI Joint Opioid Reduction Task Force and their partner agencies work with BIA Office of Justice Services to make tribal communities safer for those who live, work, visit, attend school and operate businesses there,” said Assistant Secretary – Indian Affairs Tara Sweeney. “Their combined efforts also serve tribal self-determination by helping tribal governments protect their sovereignty from being undermined by criminal enterprises.”
“OJS and its partners work in a variety of ways to help tribal leaders and members address and combat the unwanted influences of illicit drug activities that afflict their communities,” said Office of Justice Services Director Charles Addington. “The combination of our resources has made a tremendous impact in disrupting and taking down drug-trafficking networks while bringing their operators to justice. These efforts go to the heart of our mission, which is to make tribal communities safer for everyone.”
The Task Force has been joined by tribal, state and local agencies in its efforts to disrupt illegal narcotics sales and disband drug trafficking networks that plague Indian Country communities —successful operations that have made it a model for other law enforcement agencies.
In 2018, OJS Director Charles Addington was selected to head the Task Force’s development as an intra- and inter-agency effort to support President Trump’s national call to end the opioid crisis. That same year, the Task Force got off to a strong start by conducting 15 operations in seven states, Arizona, Minnesota, Montana, New Mexico, New York, South Dakota and Washington state.
The result was 372 arrests and the seizure of 3,287 pounds of illegal narcotics with an estimated street value of $9.8 million.
More information on the Joint Opioid Reduction Task Force in Indian Country’s work can be found here.
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