Tohono O’odham led drug task force seizes more than 40,000 fentanyl pills from traffickers

Tohono O’odham led drug task force seizes more than 40,000 fentanyl pills from traffickers
Fentanyl pills seized in southern AZ during a recent drug bust

TUCSON, AZ (KOLD News 13) - In the last month a Tohono O’odham Nation-led drug task force has seized more than 43,000 fentanyl pills from traffickers, according to a recent news release.

The Tohono O'odham Police Department (TOPD) led the NATIVE High Intensity Drug Trafficking Area (HIDTA) Task Force in a multi-pronged sting operation that culminated in the seizure of the fentanyl and other drugs being smuggled into the U.S.

"Successful interdictions such as this one are the result of careful planning and precise execution by dedicated tribal, federal and state officers," said Rodney Irby, Assistant Tohono O’odham Police Chief and designated head of NATIVE HIDTA. "NATIVE HIDTA performed exactly as it was designed to in this case, with multiple jurisdictions working together as a single unit to protect the public.”

According to the release, three men, none of whom were native, were also arrested in the sting; only the latest in a series of successful operations that have been conducted by the NATIVE HIDTA.

HIDTA Task Forces, totaling 250 across the U.S. are a joint task force of federal, local, state and tribal law enforcement that is designed to dismantle major trafficking rings, cartels, money laundering and similar organized crimes.

The NATIVE HIDTA on the Tohono O’odham Nation, is the only tribally led task force in the U.S., with the TOPD as the lead agency in strategic decision making and tactical implementation, according to the release.

They are also one of the most decorated and successful in the country, having received several national awards for their work in combating cross-border drug trafficking and the Sinaloan Cartel’s drug trafficking efforts.

“On behalf of the Tohono O’odham Nation I want to thank our public safety officials. They put their lives on the line every day in protecting our people and the American public and they deserve our appreciation for their efforts,” said Edward D. Manuel, Chairman of the Tohono O’odham Nation.

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