Office of National Drug Control Policy

ONDCP Excel Seventieth Row

Action Item Number: 
Action Item Name: 
Assist Tribal Authorities To Combat Trafficking on Tribal Lands
Action Item Description: 

There are a host of challenges unique to tribal lands. Many Indian tribes are at high risk from illegal drug trafficking, production, and consumption because these tribes are located in geographically remote areas and suffer from a lack of economic development.

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Illegal prescription drug diversion and abuse has been a particularly worrying problem in recent years. The high poverty and unemployment rates, combined with the challenges of accessing often remote health care, facilities, educational opportunities, and social services, make tribal communities disproportionately vulnerable. In addition, in some tribal lands, there are jurisdictional and investigative challenges for law enforcement, notably, in tribal lands that share international borders with Mexico or Canada. Drug-trafficking organizations exploit these challenges to further their illicit drug trade operations. Federal agencies have sought to provide focused assistance to address these unique challenges. The ICE Shadow Wolves, which continue to play a vital role, were established by Congress in 1974 to address smuggling occurring through the Tohono O’odham Nation. The HIDTA Program has awarded funds in the states of Arizona, New Mexico, Oregon, Texas, Oklahoma, and Washington. In all cases, the HIDTA Task Force Model of multiagency participation was a prerequisite for funding consideration. Other agencies have similarly sought collaborative partnerships with Indian tribes that often lack the resources to effectively combat the illicit drug trade. Due to the threat, particularly on our borders, this challenge will continue to be addressed through additional collaboration by DOJ and HIDTA task forces, in the form of memorandums of understanding (MOUs) among Indian tribes, sheriff’s departments, and HIDTAs; program initiatives; updated intelligence assessments; and cooperative law enforcement efforts from multiagency task forces operating near tribal lands. These efforts will be expanded through additional collaboration with DOJ and HIDTA task forces operating near tribal lands.

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