According to tribal police and a supervisor with the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration, hundreds of Native Americans in North Dakota have been ensnared by Detroit traffickers, who set up a drug pipeline more than a decade ago targeting communities and reservations that had fewer police, fewer competitors, and rampant addiction rates, reports USA Today. In the past few years, DEA agents say the danger has intensified as traffickers began cutting drugs with the opioid fentanyl.
Fentanyl is often pressed into counterfeit pills dyed to mimic prescription pain tablets and 80 percent-90 percent of the reservation’s supply originate from Michigan, mainly Detroit and its suburbs. DEA reports show that the majority of fentanyl in the U.S. is coming from two cartels: Sinaloa, once headed by infamous boss “El Chapo,” and the ruthless Cártel Jalisco Nueva Generación or CJNG, based in Guadalajara. Drug traffickers, attracted to the area by tribal members with money to spend from oil boom royalty money, as well as camouflage provided by a diverse group of oil workers, can sell opioids for $80-$100 that normally go for $5-$8 wholesale. Across North Dakota, DEA agents intercepted 1,541 fake pills in the fiscal year that ended in September 2018 — with seizures skyrocketing to 16,035 so far this fiscal year. In the last two years alone the area has seen 263 overdoses and 20 deaths.