American Indian reservations across the US have become the target of Mexican gangs and drug cartels because of their reduced police presence and the lower income of the citizens who reside there. As a result meth abuse has risen dramatically among the Native American population where substance abuse has long been a problem. Gang violence and drug use pose serious problems to several of these communities and tribal leaders are seeking help to resolve the matter. Three reservation officials testified before the Senate Indian Affairs Committee about the growing prevalence of these problems in their areas.
According to Ivan Posey Chairman of the Eastern Shoshone Tribe in Wyoming, only 6 police officers patrol the 2.2 million-acre reservation, a location where there are 13,000 residents. Fremont County, where the reservation is located, is the highest in violent crime and substance abuse in the state of Wyoming. According to Posey it’s the economic and social vulnerabilities and rural locations of these reservations have attracted gang activity and drug smuggling. In the last 8 months the reservation of 9,300 residents has had two gang fights, one drive-by shooting and a homicide, all related to gang or drug activity.
Without more funding and better police coverage these problems could expand a problem that has long plagued reservations in the US. More focus needs to be given to these sorts of crimes when they may be a more manageable problem than if they’ve grown in scale. The Native American communities who suffer from these crimes are already dealing with many factors that negatively impact their society, they don’t need this negative influence for the younger generations.