Monday, August 20, 2007

As feds focus on fighting terror, Indians and Seattle P-I say fight against drugs on reservations suffers

"While the FBI turns its attention to preventing another 9/11, drug traffickers are exploiting the vacuum. The result: A drug epidemic and related crime wave are plaguing Indian communities," report Paul Shukovsky and Daniel Lathrop in today's Seattle Post-Intelligencer. "White House cuts to the FBI and the Drug Enforcement Administration have been disastrous for tribes -- in part because the bureau in Indian Country acts like a local police department, making the felony arrests," the P-I reports. "Tribal police don't have legal authority to arrest non-Indians or charge anyone with felonies. And the maximum term in reservation jails is one year." The big problem drug: methamphetamine.

Justice Department records studied by the P-I show that the FBI has had 27 percent less investigative activity on Indian reservations since Sept. 11, 2001 -- "mirroring the transfer of more than 2,000 agents nationwide to counterterrorism duties, and a related sharp decline of investigations into white-collar crime, police abuse and civil rights violations," Shukovsky and Lathrop report.

"Officially, the FBI maintains that the number of agents assigned to Indian Country has increased by 7 percent, and that the number of indictments handed down has remained steady. But special agents in the field, former FBI administrators and federal prosecutors say the real picture is bleak. They say agents who would normally respond to reservation crimes aren't doing it as much because of a domino effect of the FBI being saddled with homeland security matters. And they say federal investigations on most reservations have failed to keep pace with burgeoning crime." (Read more)

No comments: