Flagstaff, AZ – The arrests were the result of a year-long investigation into what officials described as the largest meth distribution network on the Navajo Nation. They say the ring's supply line stretched from Tuba City on the western edge of the reservation, through Flagstaff to the Phoenix metro area, and even was connected to Mexican drug cartels. Dennis Burke is the US Attorney for Arizona.
"The DOJ has made public safety in native American communities a top priority, we know that meth is an aggravating factor in many violent crimes occurring in Indian country in Arizona, and plays a role in the high rates of sexual and domestic violence."
Navajo Nation councilwoman Hope MacDonald Lonetree says she's seen firsthand the effects of meth abuse.
"The communities on Navajo suffer greatly from drug abuse, trafficking, the violent crime is something that we can see for generations, it affects how kids are learning in the schools and the home environment."
Officers from the Navajo Nation and the Flagstaff Police department cooperated with the FBI and Bureau of Indian Affairs on the investigation. Together they made 74 undercover drug buys. The majority of the defendants are from Tuba City, although three are from Flagstaff. They face charges with potential jail sentences of 20 years or more. Federal officials say this is the largest meth bust ever on Native American land.