Drug prosecutions are down at Indian reservations around the U.S. as the FBI emphasizes antiterror work, says the Seattle Post-Intelligencer. The result: A drug epidemic and related crime wave are plaguing Indian communities. White House cuts to the FBI and the Drug Enforcement Administration have been disastrous for tribes because the bureau in Indian Country acts like a local police department, making the felony arrests. Tribal police don’t have legal authority to arrest non-Indians or charge anyone with felonies. The maximum term in reservation jails is one year.
A 2006 Bureau of Indian Affairs survey said the meth epidemic on reservations has led to increases in domestic violence, assault, burglary, child abuse and neglect, weapons offenses, elder abuse, and sex crimes. Justice Department data show a 27 percent decline in FBI investigative activity on Indian lands since the terrorist attacks of 2001 — mirroring the transfer of more than 2,000 agents nationwide to counterterrorism duties, and a related sharp decline of investigations into white-collar crime, police abuse and civil rights violations. Agents in the field, former FBI administrators and federal prosecutors say the real picture is bleak. They say agents who would normally respond to reservation crimes aren’t doing it as much because of a domino effect of the FBI being saddled with homeland security matters.