FARGO, N.D. (KXNET) — Nearly 50 years ago, Mexican drug traffickers became the main carriers of the major narcotics imported into the United States. According to the Office of Justice, there are, perhaps, no two bordering nations that are more immersed in it than the United States and Mexico. The reason, the DEA says, is to make more money.
According to the DEA, Mexican cartels are currently pushing their products to the upper mid west, specifically, North Dakota and to tribal communities due to the high demand.
Officials say Mexican drug traffickers would routinely smuggle drugs through reservation borders to the United States drug market, mainly distributing methamphetamine, cocaine, fentanyl, marijuana, and heroin — which are all widely abused drugs on reservations, throughout the region.
Mexico and the United States share a 2,000 mile border and officials say it has become an easy access for a large percentage of these drugs.
According to the Office of Justice, Mexican drug traffickers operate more in the United States than their own country. Drug Cartels use drug mules in the U.S. to distribute the drugs through a pipeline making our own state a main thoroughfare.
The DEA says the drugs are either driven in cars, tractor trailers, transported through airports and are even mailed in parcels and as far as “the pipeline.”
“The Detroit pipeline they have sort of a distribution hub there and it just comes across, but mainly what we see in North Dakota and here in Minnesota is it’s coming up from the south west border,” says DEA Assistant Agent in Change Rafael Mattei.
On October 10th, Devonsha Dabney Kemell, from Detroit Michigan, was found to be a leader in a drug trafficking organization that targeted two Native American Reservations in North Dakota. He appeared before a judge at the U.S. District Court of Fargo, and was sentenced to 15 years in federal prison, 4 years of supervised release, and a $100 special assessment.
Kemell wasn’t the only one charged — in fact, officials say a violent street gang, 5674 Reub Gang, operating out of Michigan, was involved in the transporting of thousands of oxycodone/fentanyl pills to North Dakota for distribution in Bismarck, Minot, the Fort Berthold Reservation, and the Spirit Lake Reservation.
Detroit is about 1,100 miles from North Dakota — why are they coming to North Dakota to commit these crimes?
“It might be the misperception that you can target our tribal communities for distribution of dangerous drugs, perhaps there’s a perception that law enforcement is not up to the task when it comes to addressing challenges by drug conspiracies and drug dealers targeting those communities,” says U.S. Attorney of North Dakota Mac Schneider.
Fentanyl is a medication that is typically used to treat patients with severe pain and is usually prescribed by a doctor. But according to The National Institute on Drug Abuse, fentanyl is nationally the biggest drug threat due to drug dealers mixing it with other drugs, such as heroin, cocaine, and methamphetamine.
Fentanyl is usually a $3 to $5 pill, but it is being sold on tribal reservations for $80 to $100 a pill, taking advantage of a vulnerable community.
KX News spoke with a man from the Standing Rock Sioux Tribe who worked on the reservation for more than a decade. He says the drug increase there is due to a lack of police officers. Apparently, there are about nine officers covering 2.3 million acres, and they only have about three officers per shift.
“You can go down there and there’s these laws that aren’t off the reservation, so you can go down there and commit crimes and basically get a slap on the hand,” he says.
The DEA Assistant Special Agent in Charge also says a lot of these pills are sold on social media and they are NOT legit.