The Seven Clans Casino in Minnesota’s Thief River Falls recently helped law enforcement carry out a sting of a major drug ring. The operation resulted in the successful infiltration of an illegal narcotics network that was running the illicit enterprise throughout Northern Minnesota.
Owned and operated by the Red Lake Band of Chippewa Indians, Seven Clans Casino Thief River Falls is one of the tribe’s three casinos. The sovereign Native American community additionally runs Seven Clans Casino Red Lake and Seven Clans Casino Warroad.
The Thief River Falls casino is just east of US Highway 59 along Center Street. The casino features about 650 slot machines and four blackjack tables. A 151-room hotel and an indoor waterpark complement the gaming space.
The Red Lake Police Department is responsible for enforcing the Red Lake Band of Chippewa Indians’ Tribal Code. The tribal law enforcement agency says it has a sworn force of 38 officers, plus administrative staff.
The tribal police unit recently collaborated with federal law enforcement agencies to infiltrate a suspected drug ring. The Red Lake Indians’ Tribal Council said last week that the joint operation resulted in alleged drug traffickers being apprehended after they were surveilled dropping off drugs and collecting cash from dealers on the grounds of the casino.
This operation demonstrates the Red Lake Nation’s commitment to the health and safety of staff and customers and the nation’s goal of preserving the well-being of the community,” a statement from the Red Lake Tribal Council read. “The Red Lake Police Department, in close coordination with the casino administration, were able to intercept the large quantity of the dangerous drug before it reached the street.”
Tribal leaders said the Red Lake Band recognizes the importance of proactively infiltrating criminal networks to prevent the illegal drugs they often distribute from reaching the streets.
“The tribal council has consistently advocated for a secure and drug-free environment within the reservation and at its gaming properties,” the tribal release continued. “The remarkable success of this operation serves as a clear message to those seeking to compromise the safety of the Seven Clans Casinos and the larger community: illegal activities will not be tolerated and violators will be met with swift, punitive action.”
The Red Lake Nation didn’t provide details on the number of individuals arrested in the drug sting, nor describe what sort of drugs were seized. Law enforcement additionally refrained from publicly declaring a street value for the confiscated narcotics.
Some criminal enterprises target sovereign land owned by tribes to conduct their illegal business, thinking that such reservations are better suited to evading federal law enforcement. But while tribes retain elements of autonomy from some US and state laws, Native American communities remain subject to most federal statutes.
The US Federal Bureau of Investigations is tasked with investigating the most serious crimes in Indian country, such as murder, child sexual and physical abuse, violent assaults, public corruption, financial crimes, Indian gaming violations, and drug trafficking. The FBI’s law enforcement partners on Indian Country matters include the Department of Justice, the Department of the Interior’s Bureau of Indian Affairs, the National Indian Gaming Commission, and the International Association of Chiefs of Police.
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