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 Owingeh. 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.