Drug Trafficking in Indian Country

Drug Trafficking in Indian Country
Duration: 60 Minutes
Module 1Resources
Recorded on: 2020-01-28
Unit 1Slide Deck: Drug Trafficking in Indian Country
Unit 2Workbook: Drug Trafficking in Indian Country
Unit 3Recording: Drug Trafficking in Indian Country

Statistics show the level that drug trafficking and addiction has impacted Indian Country. Characteristics unique to Indian Country – oppression, displacement, isolation, poverty – make them susceptible to be victimized or commit transgressions. It has also created challenges on how authorities can address these issues.

To dissect the topic of Drug Trafficking in Indian Country is David Rogers. David served in the criminal justice field for more than four decades in various roles. He is enrolled with the Nez Perce tribe of Idaho and is considered an expert on Tribal Nations and the issues they face. Currently, he is the CEO and Chief Instructor of Tribal Public Safety Innovations (TPSI).

Specifics that David unpacked on this course include:

  • A visualization of the different local reservations’ and communities’ locations throughout the United States.
  • Some of the tribes that are entwined into the drug trafficking issue and their locations and geographic features that make them ideal points to transport drugs to and from.
  • A brief history of smuggling and the characteristics of the path taken when smuggling goods.
  • Insights from the National Drug Intelligence Center’s Indian Country Drug Threat Assessment.
    • How most drugs come from Mexico and use Indian Country communities located adjacent to the US-Mexico and US-Canada border to move drugs around.
    • The youth gangs in Indian Nations being utilized in drug trades.
    • The prevalence of drug abuse in Native Americans, and the types of substances being trafficked and used.
    • How drug trafficking and drug use create more crimes within the communities.
  • How lenient, inconsistent and uncoordinated enforcement, limited resources, jurisdictional issues, and tribal sovereignty make Indian Country the ideal venue to run a drug trafficking operation.
  • Approaches that Mexican drug cartels take to access the tribal communities by marrying into the tribe, tempting them with monetary incentives and recruiting from the gangs.
  • Gangs in Indian Country
    • An overview of the beginnings, evolution, and statistics of gangs in Indian Country.
    • How the Native Mob – one of the biggest and most dangerous tribal gangs – aimed to replace Hispanic drug traffickers and was able to run a massive drug operation.
    • Native Prison gangs that formed out of the sheer number of incarcerated native males and managed drug trafficking operations from prison.
  • The challenges that come with the Indian Country drug trafficking issue.
    • The Tribal Police’s limitations when it comes to their jurisdiction, workforce , resources, and collaborations with other agencies.
    • The communities’ denial, minimization, and inexperience with the issue.
    • Regional and national challenges that come with the exclusion from federal funding, lack of data for intelligence, and isolation from efforts to address the issues.
  • Current trends and statistics that show the type of drugs being trafficked, the increase in drug problems, and how Indian Country drug traffickers are leaning towards bigger involvement in the trade.
  • The offshoot of drug trafficking in Indian Country that endanger their safety, their livelihood, their identity, and even their existence.

Dave clarified points during the Q&A about:

  • The specific types of drugs being trafficked in Indian Country.
  • The higher risks that come with the open US-Canada border.
  • The implications of being banished from the tribe.
  • The characteristics of tribes who request multi-agency assistance to address trafficking.
  • Where to access the NDIC Threat Assessment.
  • How native gangs grew and spread in the 90s.
  • Recurring issues for Indian Country law enforcement as lack of workplace benefits, opportunities, resources, and training,
  • The role of drug trafficking to the issue of missing and murdered indigenous women.
  • The tribes’ lack of legal powers to prosecute drug trafficking cases and felonies in general.


Audience Comments:

  • “One of the most interesting webinars I have seen. Excellent speaker and topic.” — Robert
  • “There was a lot of really good information in this webinar! – I’m happy he discussed all the issues the Tribes were having in controlling the drug traffickers and why drug traffickers were using Tribal lands for drug running.” — Vicki
  • “Great introduction to drug trafficking issues on reservations – especially for those of us who handle drug cases in jurisdictions that have reservations within them. Thank you.” — Jonathan
  • “I’ve known Dave and he is a great speaker. He was always present during the Multi-jurisdictional Conference in Green Bay. He provided more updated information during this presentation.”  — Enrico
  • “I had no idea how prevalent the Native American gangs are. All of the info was interesting.” — Carrie


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