NY Times: Drug trafficking in Indian Country

The New York Times ran two big articles on drug trafficking in Indian Country, citing a rise in the drug trade on reservations across the United States.

Drug traffickers have targeted reservations near the Canadian and Mexican borders, due to limited law enforcement and jurisdictional issues. Tribal members, men and women alike, have become active participants, overseeing major drug rings that take in millions of dollars.

On the Mohawk Reservation in upstate New York, John V. Oakes was part of a system that allegedly brings in more than $1 billion annually in high-grade marijuana and Ecstasy across the Canadian border. He pleaded guilty to selling drugs to undercover agents, after a raid found 17,000 tablets of Ecstasy, worth $340,000 on the street, and two pounds of high-grade marijuana in his heavily-secured compound on the reservation.

On the Lummi Reservation in Washington, Eugenia Phair, 26, ran an OxyContin ring that employed several Indian women as mules to bring the drug in from Canada. Her father and even her grandmother were involved too, and both have spent time in jail for selling drugs. Phair just got out of prison after doing 20 months on drug charges and with four kids to worry about, she insists she isn't going back to the trade.

Tribal and local law enforcement officials say they have few resources to combat the problem. Some say they are hampered by tribal officials whom they claim have connections to some of the traffickers.

Darrel Hillaire, the chairman of the Lummi Nation, said tribal leaders only have themselves to blame for the scourge of drugs that is ravaging Native people. "Until it becomes the No. 1 priority in Indian Country, we'll continue to play this blame game, and we'll get nothing done," he told The New York Times.

Get the Story:
Drug Traffickers Find Haven in Shadows of Indian Country (The New York Times 2/19)
Dizzying Rise and Abrupt Fall for a Reservation Drug Dealer (The New York Times 2/20)

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