If you aren’t hip, the tribal reservations where Native Americans have been concentrated in this country are nothing sweet. They face the same poverty-related plights as most hoods across the nation. Some may say that the hood is a step up from the reservation. Crime and drug addiction also runs rampant throughout the reservations. According to the FBI, 40 percent of the violent crime on reservations involves meth. In a recent crackdown, the feds have filed charges against 34 individuals for methamphetamine trafficking on the Mescalero Apache Reservation in southern New Mexico and surrounding areas.
These charges came in reaction to a spike in violent crime on the reservation, which has a population of 4,000. According to the Las Cruces Sun-News:
Through an 18-month investigation, agents from the Drug Enforcement Administration and the Bureau of Indian Affairs dismantled three drug trafficking organizations, arrested 28 suspects and seized more than 22 pounds of methamphetamine, officials said Monday during a news conference at the DEA office in Las Cruces.
In the beginning, the investigation targeted an organization allegedly headed by Mescalero Apache tribesman Lorenzo Saenz, 49. Saenz, who was arrested on Friday, allegedly sold meth to undercover agents along with a co-conspirator. From there, the investigation expanded to probing two other organizations believed to be the source and distributor of the meth.
“Given the disproportionate negative impact that methamphetamine has on our tribal communities, the significance of the results of this investigation cannot be overstated,” said US Attorney Damon P. Martinez . “More than 75 percent of law enforcement agencies that work in Indian Country identify methamphetamine as the greatest drug threat faced by tribal communities.”
In six federal indictments and a criminal complaint filed in the US District Court of Las Cruces, 18 of the 34 have been formally charged. This includes five Mescalero Apache tribe members and 13 non-Native Americans. The remaining 16 are all members of the tribe and face charges in Mescalero Apache Tribal Court. The federal charges filed include distribution and trafficking of meth, conspiracy and money laundering.