Interior Department sting results in several opioid arrests in North Carolina

Interior Department sting results in several opioid arrests in North Carolina
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A drug sting lead by Interior Department law enforcement officers this week resulted in the arrest of 75 individuals and the seizure of 248 pounds of heroin, methamphetamine, fentanyl and marijuana on Indian land.

The operation, conducted over the course of several months in North Carolina is part of the administration’s push to thwart the opioid drug trade, an effort that’s been called the President’s Joint Opioid Reduction Task Force.

Interior law enforcement officers operating in conjunction with the Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA), Eastern Band of Cherokee Indian Police Department and other agencies seized the narcotics, along with seven guns, through an undercover operation that began in March, according to Interior officials.

The most recent series of arrests began Monday.

“First and foremost, bravo zulu to the dozens of law enforcement professionals who are on the front lines and putting their own lives at risk to take these deadly drugs off the streets," Interior Secretary Ryan ZinkeRyan Keith ZinkePuerto Rican police fire tear gas at crowds protesting governor Overnight Energy: Trump officials gut DC staff for public lands agency to move West | Democrats slam EPA over scientific boards | Deepwater Horizon most litigated environmental issue of decade Trump officials gut DC staff as public lands agency preps to move out West MORE said in a statement. "President TrumpDonald John TrumpHillicon Valley: Trump seeks review of Pentagon cloud-computing contract | FTC weighs updating kids' internet privacy rules | Schumer calls for FaceApp probe | Report says states need more money to secure elections Al Green says impeachment is 'only solution' to Trump's rhetoric Trump: Those chanting 'send her back' are 'people that love our country' MORE and I could not be prouder of their work."

Zinke announced the drug seizure in Asheville, N.C., on Thursday morning. He said this week’s law enforcement action gets the administration closer to its goal of ending the opioid crisis.

“It’s heartbreaking to see the scale of the problem, and rather than further stigmatizing victims, we are cracking down on the dealers who are selling out our children, selling out our communities, and selling out our nation,” Zinke said.

Interior announced this month that one of its law enforcement officers had successfully nabbed 17 pounds of heroin and methamphetamine on an Indian reservation in New Mexico. An officer in the Interior's Bureau of Indian Affairs (BIA) Office of Justice Services found the drugs during a traffic stop on the San Felipe Pueblo Indian Reservation, north of Albuquerque.

Interior at the time said the department had made 155 arrests and confiscated approximately 1,155 pounds of drugs since the task force's inception earlier this year.

The Hill first reported in May that Interior had quietly started sending U.S. Park Police officers to the border as part of its commitment to helping the administration nab border crossers and drug traffickers. Stationed on publicly owned land and tribal land, officers were tasked with apprehending subjects.

The agency later announced that its law enforcement officers apprehended 13 people at the U.S.-Mexico border in May during the first two days of that surge.

Attorney General Jeff SessionsJefferson (Jeff) Beauregard SessionsTrump's no racist — he's an equal opportunity offender Press: Acosta, latest to walk the plank The Hill's Morning Report — Trump retreats on census citizenship question MORE announced in May that the Department of Justice (DOJ) had implemented a “zero-tolerance” policy for individuals who cross the southern border illegally.

U.S. Park Police officers usually patrol National Park Service property around Washington, D.C., New York and San Francisco. The federal officers have the ability to make arrests and handle firearms.

Interior manages about 40 percent of the land along the southern U.S. border.