Interior Dept. Opioid Task Force Drug Seizure Nets 913.5 Pounds of Illegal Narcotics

Drug Bust

Department of Interior (DOI) Secretary Ryan Zinke announced on Thursday the agency’s Opioid Task Force conducted a major operation around tribal reservations in Arizona, netting a massive seizure of illegal narcotics.

The 11-day investigation conducted between May 15 and May 26 ended with a roundup of more than 9,050 Fentanyl pills, 48.5 pounds of methamphetamine, 1.2 pounds of heroin, 863 pounds of marijuana, and one-half pound of cocaine.

DOI said $30,000 in cash was found over the course of the bust, with the street value of the drugs seized totaling $4,791,417

Eighty-six people were arrested during the operation, according to DOI.

“Our task force on opioids continues to distinguish itself as one of the finest operations in law enforcement today; I could not be more proud of these professionals,” Zinke said in a press release distributed following his appearance Thursday on Fox and Friends, where he announced the operation.

“It’s heartbreaking to see the scale of the problem, and rather than further stigmatizing victims, we are cracking down on the dealers who are selling out our children, selling out our communities, and selling out our nation,” Zinke said.

Zinke thanked the “brave men and women” who took part in the operation and warned drug dealers and traffickers law enforcement officers are “keeping drug dealers up at night.”

“And with good reason; if you are trafficking these drugs, we will find you, arrest you, and bring you to justice,” Zinke said.

“A drug-free Indian Country is a healthy Indian Country,” John Tahsuda, principal deputy assistant secretary for DOI’s Indian Affairs,” said in the press release.

“Only together can we protect our loved ones from the harmful effects of these devastating substances,” Tahsuda said.

“Secretary Zinke has worked with tribes to carry out President Trump’s directive to stop the opioid crisis, conducting dozens of tribal visits to see the affected communities, while listening and learning about how to fight the crisis,” the DOI press release said.

“In starting new initiatives to fight the epidemic, such as the creation of the Joint Task Force, [DOI] is committed to giving all resources required to fight drug abuse,” the release said.

Special Agents from the Bureau of Indian Affairs (BIA), Division of Drug Enforcement (DDE) and BIA K-9 uniformed officers, along with the Tohono O’odham Police Department, Homeland Security Investigations (HSI-Sells, Arizona), U.S. Border Patrol (USBP), Pascua Yaqui Tribal Police Department, San Carlos Apache Tribal Police Department, Gila River Tribal Police Department, Native American Targeted Investigations of Violent Enterprises (NATIVE) Task Force, and the Arizona Department of Public Safety (DPS) took part in the operation, according to DOI.

The  Arizona operation is the second led by Interior’s Opioid Task Force, DOI said.

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