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Interior law enforcement officers seize 17 pounds of heroin on reservation
Interior Department (DOI) law enforcement officers seized 17 pounds of heroin and methamphetamine drugs from an Indian reservation in New Mexico in August.
An officer within 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 Secretary Ryan Zinke praised the seizure in a statement released Wednesday.
"Our Bureau of Indian Affairs law enforcement officers are the front line in America's ongoing fight against opioids," said Zinke. "I applaud their fine efforts today and every day. Opioids have had a disproportionately negative effect on American Indian and Alaska Native communities, and as Secretary of the Interior, I understand how imperative our efforts are on this urgent issue."
The seizure was done in conjunction with the department's newly minted DOI Opioid Task Force, according to the press release. The department said the agency made 155 arrests and confiscated approximately 1,155 pounds of drugs since the task force's inception earlier this year.
In May Zinke also directed officers from the US Park Police to assist the U.S. Border Patrol with securing the U.S.-Mexico border. Officers were initially sent to patrol federally controlled land at Organ Pipe Cactus National Monument in Arizona and Amistad National Recreation Area in Texas, The Hill first reported.
Interior manages 40 percent of the land along the southern border.
The department touted the move as measure to thwart illegal drug crossing. In mid May Interior announced that Interior law enforcement officers apprehended 13 people at the U.S.-Mexico border during the first two days of the administration's border surge.
In the statement, Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke said officers also confiscated one illegal handgun and saw "evidence of recent activity along smuggling routes."
"Today's report that more than a dozen individuals were arrested while illegally crossing the border on to Interior-managed lands and bringing illegal firearms into our communities is proof that President Trump's push to have a greater law enforcement presence to secure the southern border is needed," Zinke said in the statement.
U.S. Park Police officers are traditionally tasked with policing National Park Service (NPS) property around Washington, D.C., New York and San Francisco while NPS officers traditionally work within park land.
The Interior has not released more recent numbers as to the overall presence of Interior law enforcement officers on the border or where they are stationed, but in May Zinke promised that more help would be sent to support the border.