Offices of HCI Distribution in Winnebago, Nebraska. Photo: Ho-Chunk Inc
Business | Law

Winnebago Tribe corporation cooperates with federal tobacco investigation




Update:
Ho-Chunk Inc. released an additional statement about the activities on the Winnebago Reservation on January 30, 2018. It follows:
The law enforcement activities at Ho-Chunk, Inc. on Tuesday are the latest round in a 20-year state-tribal tax dispute. We are fully cooperating with authorities. Ho-Chunk, Inc. is confident that in the end, tribal sovereignty will prevail.



This is an ongoing investigation, so our ability to comment is limited. Retail operations, including Pony Express, are open for regular business. We are working to provide updates as possible.
-- 3:40pm Eastern

Federal agents are investigating the tobacco operations of Ho-Chunk Inc., the economic development corporation of the Winnebago Tribe.

According to news reports, the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms converged on the reservation in Nebraska on Tuesday morning. Ho-Chunk Inc. confirmed the activity in a post on Facebook.

"Law enforcement is on site at our offices in Winnebago. We are fully cooperating with their activities related to tobacco records," the post read.

According to The Omaha World-Herald, about 50 ATF agents were seen on the reservation. An agency spokesperson told the paper that their presence was part of an "ongoing investigation" into tobacco.

The agents went to Ho-Chunk Inc.'s building on the reservation, along with that of HCI Distribution and Rock River Manufacturing, The Sioux City Journal reported. The two latter businesses are subsidiaries that are engaged in tobacco manufacturing and distributing.

Ho-Chunk Inc. owns Indianz.Com. The website is operated by a different subsidiary and is not involved with the tobacco operations.

Ho-Chunk Inc. has long engaged in tobacco sales, manufacturing and distribution on the reservation and in Indian Country. Its activities have seen repeated threats and actions from state and federal authorities.

As part of an ongoing lawsuit, a federal judge determined that the Contraband Cigarettes Trafficking Act , a federal law, applies to tribal businesses. Turtle Talk has posted documents from the case, Ho-Chunk Inc. v. Sessions.

Read More on the Story:
ATF agents raid Ho-Chunk in Winnebago (KCAU 9 News January 30, 2018)
Federal agents descend on Ho-Chunk headquarters; officials are investigating tobacco-related records, company spokesman says (The Omaha World-Herald January 30, 2018)
Federal agents swarm Ho-Chunk Inc. headquarters as part of tobacco investigation (The Sioux City Journal January 30, 2018)