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Attorney General visits Crow Reservation to address drugs, cartels, trafficking

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Posted at 11:11 PM, Mar 05, 2024

The country's top law enforcement officer visited the Crow Indian Reservation on Tuesday, highlighting several growing problems.

U.S. Attorney General Merrick Garland talked with Crow tribal leaders earlier in the day and the held a brief news conference before talking with local law enforcement at the US Marshals Service office.

"It's not just the reservations," said Jesse Laslovich, U.S. Attorney for the District of Montana. "There isn't a community that's immune to the drug trafficking problem in Montana."

They heard about the challenge with fentanyl and meth.

"Whether you're connected to the cartel or not, you're coming in but the drugs are being trafficked from out of state," Laslovich said. "They come here and then they're relying on local people. Whether there are people who are addicts, they're dealing drugs to fund their addiction or they're just dealing drugs to make money."

Laslovich said officers patrol 2.5 million acres of the Crow Reservation with .7 officers per 1000 people, compared to the national average of three per 1000.

"At any given time. we have two police officers patrolling an area the size of Connecticut, two and a half million acres," said Levi Black Eagle, Crow Tribe secretary. "I know there's a lot of jurisdictional issues. It's dicey a little bit to have outsiders come into our sovereign land and help with the law enforcement. But it's desperately needed because the BIA is severely undermanned."

Garland addressed that at a meeting with local law enforcement.

"Our partnerships were also critical in last year's investigation and takedown of another major meth and fentanyl trafficking operation on the Crow Indian Reservation," Garland said.

"They do set up shop on reservations because it's kind of a safe haven, especially with limited law enforcement,"Crow Tribe Chair Frank White Clay said about cartels and drug traffickers.

White Clay also has concerns with other crimes.

"Human trafficking and missing and murdered indigenous people," White Clay said.

Garland says the Not Invisible Act Commission and the MMIP Regional Outreach Program will help prevent and respond to missing or murdered indigenous persons cases.

"In the coming year, the Justice Department plans to put more resources directly into the hands of our law enforcement and community partners working to drive down violent crime and improve public safety," Garland said.

"The good news is we're having some success in dismantling these drug trafficking organizations here in Billings, on the Crow, Northern Cheyenne," Laslovich said. "And then we've had drug trafficking organizations that we busted in Butte. Despite all that coming in, we're making great progress and holding people accountable."