Traffickers in Mexico and Canada increasingly are using Indian reservations along the borders as conduits for bringing marijuana, ecstasy, and other illicit drugs into the U.S. The drug gangs take advantage of weak and underfunded tribal police forces and the remoteness of tribal lands, and they find that high unemployment rates and resentment of federal law enforcement agencies make some young Native Americans ready allies.
Drug seizures on the tribal lands have risen sharply. In 2005, law enforcement agents made 292 seizures totaling 67 tons of marijuana. By 2009, they tallied 1,066 seizures totaling more than 159 tons.
Cocaine also is moving in. On June 11, the U.S. attorney for Arizona indicted nine Tohono people on trafficking charges, ending a five-month probe in which undercover agents made 39 buys totaling over 250 grams of cocaine.
The U.S. Justice Department is closely watching on two reservations where it says the problems are most acute: the St. Regis Mohawk Reservation in upstate New York and the Tohono O'odham Reservation in Arizona.