Tribes seek authority over non-Indians in drug trafficking cases

U.S. Attorney Andrew Luger, at podium, announced charges on May 28 against 41 people for a drug trafficking ring that targeted Indian Country . Photo by Lou Raguse / KARE11 / Twitter

Some tribes are seeking to prosecute non-Indians for drug trafficking amid a spike in crime on reservations in Minnesota.

Andrew Luger, the U.S. Attorney in Minnesota, did not express a position on the matter. But he told The Duluth News Tribune that it would require a change in federal law.

Luger worked closely with the Red Lake Nation and the White Earth Nation to bust a large heroin trafficking ring that operated on and off their reservations. Most of the 41 defendants, including the alleged ringleader, are non-Indians although some tribal members were charged.

"This was very much an organization targeting Indian Country," Luger told the paper of Operation Exile. 'Heroin, nationally, but certainly in Minnesota is a real issue with tribal nations, they've been targeted by traffickers."

Luger went to Red Lake on Monday for a follow-up session with tribal leaders and law enforcement officials. He hopes criminals take notice of the increased cooperation among tribal, federal and state agencies.

"We know somebody else is going to come in and try to pick up where they left off, but by taking out so many people, we've left less infrastructure for the next group to get started," Luger told the paper. "But, we'll be ready for them when they come."

Get the Story:
U.S. Attorney's office follows heroin bust with meeting in Red Lake (The Duluth News Tribune 6/9)

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