/ Modified mar 22, 2019 8:58 a.m.

Tohono O'odham Police Seize 43K Fentanyl Doses

Tribal police led a task force that resulted in three arrests and the seizure of pills valued at over $700,000.

Fentanyl lethal dose The drug fentanyl is 100 times more potent than morphine, according to the Drug Enforcement Administration.
Drug Enforcement Administration

Police on the Tohono O'odham Nation say a tribal-led task force is responsible for getting 43,000 doses of fentanyl off the streets.

Tohono O'odham Police organized a task force of federal agencies that made a series of sting operations March 16, leading to three arrests and the seizure of fentanyl pills valued at over $700,000 dollars.

Assistant Tribal Police Chief Rodney Irby leads the task force.

"It wasn't like a single interdiction. It was actually a pretty long-term investigation that led us to a distribution network in the Phoenix area," Irby said.

Irby says the task force has had to adjust to the changing flow of illegal drugs across the border. "We're continuing to see a drastic reduction in marijuana that's being interdicted between the ports of entry, and we're starting to see an increase in both methamphetamine and counterfeit opioids," he said.

Tohono O'odham Chairman Edward Manuel commended the department for dealing with a problem that spreads far beyond the nation.

"We're just a very small piece of the puzzle here. The greater market is on the outside, the states. But they all have to do their part because it's the demand that drives the drug," Manuel said.

The High Intensity Drug Trafficking Area task force is one of 250 across the country that combine federal and tribal agencies to fight drug trafficking, but it's the only one where the tribal police are in charge.

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