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Indian Reservation Caught in Middle of Drug War

As the drug wars continue in Mexico, the citizens of this country are caught in the middle of the battle. The New York Times recently reported on the fate of the Tohono O’odham Nation.

This large Indian reservation straddles 75 miles of the border with Mexico and has become a major transit point for drugs as well as people. The land is swarming with outsiders as many are drawn to the drug cartels and the cash associated with moving drugs across borders.

“People will knock on your door, flash a wad of money and ask if you can drive this bale of marijuana up north,” said Marla Henry, 38, in the Times. Henry is chairwoman of Chukut Kuk district, which covers much of the border zone.

As the United States tightened security to the east and west, especially after 9-11, more and more drug traffic was funneled through the reservation, especially marijuana. In 2009, officials seized 319,000 pounds of marijuana on the reservation, up from 201,000 pounds in the previous year.

Tribal members by the hundreds are findings themselves prosecuted in federal, state or tribal courts for smuggling drugs or humans. Many of these individuals take offers that reach as high as $5,000 for storing marijuana or transporting it across the reservation.

Henry noted that many people are afraid that if they say no, they will be threatened by the cartel. In remote villages, those who call for help from the police may not see anyone arrive for two hours or even more.

The influx of federal agents isn’t helping things and has some residents very angry. The increased number of agents cruising the roads means more checkpoints and tighter controls on a border that tribal members were once able to freely cross.

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