NPR: Tribes along the border battle an increase in drug trafficking
"MICHEL MARTIN, host: Next we focus on drug trafficking through Indian country. The 2010 National Drug Control Strategy says that Indian reservations that straddle the border between U.S. and Mexico and the U.S. and Canada, are prime targets for drug traffickers because they are remote and often lack the policing they need to combat it effectively.

We turn now to Ed Reina. He joins us now from the Tohono O'odham Nation where he is director of public safety. The reservation is located in southern Arizona on the U.S./Mexico border.

In 2010, the Justice Department reported that 5 to 10 percent of all marijuana grown in Mexico makes its way through the tribal lands of this Indian nation. And also with us from Mexico City, is Tim Johnson. He's Mexico bureau chief for McClatchy Newspapers and he's done extensive reporting about drug trafficking through Indian country in the United States. And I welcome you both and I thank you both so much for being with us.

Mr. TIM JOHNSON (Mexico Bureau Chief, McClatchy Newspapers): Thank you.

Mr. ED REINA (Director of Public Safety, Tohono O'odham Nation): Thank you. I appreciate this opportunity.

MARTIN: Director Reina, if you'd start by telling us, when did you start to realize that there was this problem with drug traffickers using the Tohono O'odham Nation's lands for trafficking purposes? How did this start to become clear?

Mr. REINA: There had always been a problem, but probably in the mid 2000, 2005, the U.S. government started closing down the areas along the border, such as San Diego, Texas, et cetera and they created a funnel effect, which increased the transport of drugs and human cargo through the Tohono O'odham Nation. Since we are a sovereign nation, there wasn't any concerted effort at that time to secure our borders. So those strategies occurred outside in California, Texas, et cetera, then Arizona became the funnel for a lot of the transport of illegal drugs."

Get the Story:
Indian Reservations Grapple With Drug Trafficking (NPR 7/16)

DOJ Report:
National Drug Threat Assessment (February 2010)

Related Stories:
Drug smugglers go through Mohawk and Tohono reservations (6/17)