Methamphetamine and Native Americans
Methamphetamine has become a major public health concern among Native Americans within the last decade. Tribal leaders and reservation police departments consider the epidemic the largest threat to public safety and attribute higher rates of domestic violence, assaults, burglaries, and child abuse and neglect on reservations to the drug.
Methamphetamine's westward spread from California included most of Indian Country; however, due to the nature of the substance, it is created independently in labs on tribal lands and surrounding areas, as well. As in the case of the Wind River Indian Reservation, Mexican drug cartels specifically targeted reservations due to their isolation and complicated drug laws.
Tribes have the right to outlaw substances on their lands as a part of their inherent rights as domestic dependent nations. For example, Montana legally allows the sale of alcohol as does the rest of the United States, but the Crow and Northern Cheyenne reservations in the state prohibit it. The jurisdictional issues between native and federal law created loopholes and opportunities for the cartels to begin business.
Effects on Indian Country
Reports of crime have escalated since methamphetamine's introduction. FBI offices located in Indian Country estimate that 40 to 50% of the violent crime cases they investigate involve the drug. The increase cannot be solely attributed to Native American users. Traffickers, criminal groups, and gang members commit crimes against other groups and Native Americans in order to continue their drug distribution.
According to the United States Department of Justice, the crimes can be divided into three categories: personal crime, such as threats and intimidation; property crime, such as arson, theft, burglary, and vandalism; and violent crime, such as homicide, rape, and aggravated assault.
- "Meth Adds Scourge to Troubled Native American Lands". Washingtonpost.com. 2007-06-10. Retrieved 2012-08-27.
- "How Meth Took Hold on Indian Reservation". Washingtonpost.com. 2007-04-29. Retrieved 2012-08-27.
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- "USDOJ: National Drug Intelligence Center". Usdoj.gov. 2012-06-15. Retrieved 2012-08-27.