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Indian Reservations Overun by Mexican Drug Gangs

MS-13From Las Vegas Sun…

So around 2000, the Mexicans moved in and near Wind River Reservation.

“They came to a place where people don’t have anything,” said Frances Monroe, who works in the Northern Arapaho Child Protection Services office.

They started with free meth samples. The men pursued Indian women, providing them with meth even as they romanced them and fathered their children. Eventually, the women needed to support their habit, so they became dealers, too – and they used free samples to recruit new customers.

It was all part of the plan.

For the next four years, the gang sold pounds and pounds of meth, much of it 98 percent pure. The drugs came from Mexico, then on to Los Angeles; Ogden, Utah (where Sagaste-Cruz lived); and finally Wyoming, where gang members had a handful of local distributors, each with their own customer base.

Customers became dealers and recruiters, and their customers did the same.

Before, meth was barely mentioned on the reservation. Police reported only sporadic arrests.

But now the reservation was saturated with it. Crime soared. From 2003 to 2006, cases of child neglect increased 131 percent. Drug possession was up 163 percent; spousal abuse rose 218 percent.

The Wind River reservation is not alone. The Bureau of Indian Affairs found that methamphetamine was listed as the greatest threat to Indian communities by police departments.

Mexican drug cartels take advantage of the often complicated law enforcement jurisdictions in Indian Country. Isolated communities are hit the hardest, and sometimes even tribal leaders are not immune, said Heather Dawn Thompson, director of government affairs for the National Congress of American Indians.

Read Article From Las Vegas Sun