Meth finds a home on reservations
Indian Country has proven to be a rich environment
for those who smuggle or manufacture meth.
Some reservations in this country are millions of acres
in size and sparsely populated. That is a perfect setting
for clandestine meth labs -- even super labs making
more than 10 pounds of the drug at a time.
In addition, an abundance of disposable income and
a culture already plagued by alcohol abuse have
provided some drug traffickers with a major bounty.
Perhaps nowhere is the methamphetamine plague
as problematic as on the Wind River Indian Reservation
in central Wyoming.
According to a recent Associated Press story, the Wind River Reservation was targeted by Mexican drug cartels because of its history and geography.
As early as 1997, Sagaste-Cruz and his Mexican gang were selling small amounts of meth on reservations in South Dakota and Nebraska. Then they read an article in the Denver Post about a liquor store on the Wind River Reservation that did millions of dollars in business -- especially around the time residents received their share of the tribe's revenue.
"Sagaste-Cruz figured if there were already so many Indians addicted to alcohol," the story goes on to say, "it would be easy enough to addict them to meth.
"So around 2000, the Mexicans moved onto and near Wind River Reservation.
" 'They came to a place where people don't have anything,' said Frances Monroe, who works in the Northern Arapaho Child Protection Services office.
They started with free meth samples. The men pursued Indian women, providing them with meth even as they romanced them and fathered their children. Eventually, the women needed to support their habit, so they became dealers, too — and they used free samples to recruit new customers.
It was all part of the plan."
Before long, meth was a raging epidemic on the reservation and in other Indian communities around the country.
According to one federal study, Native Americans use methamphetamine at a rate more than twice the national average. (See more statistics)
The result of this explosive growth in methamphetamine abuse has triggered numerous prevention and enforcement programs but to date the highly addictive drug has stood its ground.