Hageman Lobbies Trump To Help Stop Drug, Human Trafficking On Reservations

Harriet Hageman said Sunday that she spoke with former President Trump about thwarting drug and human trafficking cartels on reservations. She said the problem is a direct byproduct of President Biden’s immigration policies.

Leo Wolfson

July 09, 20245 min read

U.S. Rep. Hariett Hageman, R-Wyoming, at a political rally in Casper, Wyoming, on Sunday, July 7, 2024.
U.S. Rep. Hariett Hageman, R-Wyoming, at a political rally in Casper, Wyoming, on Sunday, July 7, 2024. (Leo Wolfson, Cowboy State Daily)

CASPER — U.S. Rep. Harriet Hageman said she told President Donald Trump in a recent conversation with the former president that she wants his help to stop drugs and human trafficking on Native American reservations.

One of her biggest concerns is a growing trend of drug cartels popping up on reservations, including the Wind River Reservation in Wyoming.

It’s come up twice at House Natural Resources Committee meetings, of which Hageman is a member.

Mexican drug cartels have expanded their operations to America’s southern border towns and even further north to Wyoming and Montana, she said.

According to a report released by the committee in April, drug addiction has left its mark on Wyoming’s Wind River Reservation, with criminal cartels repeatedly targeting these communities for the distribution of meth and fentanyl.

Between 2003 and 2006, meth took a grip on the Wind River Reservation, leading to drastic increases in crime, including a 163% increase in drug possession, 218% increase in spousal abuse, and 131% spike in child neglect, according to NBC News.

Although the drug trafficking network was reportedly dismantled at that time, the cartels did not stop and have continued numerous, repeated incursions into the reservation.

In 2020, the Northern Arapaho Business Council had to declare a state of emergency because of the high rates of meth addiction in their community.

Also the chair of the Subcommittee on Indian and Insular Affairs, Hageman said the cartels get tribal members hooked on drugs and then have them work for them in slave-like conditions to feed their addictions.

“The only way that they can keep getting the drugs is to engage in some really bad acts,” she said.

Montana Too

Hageman said there is a direct connection between the increase of drug trafficking and human smuggling on reservations, reaching what she says are “crisis proportions” in Montana.

“It’s a tragedy beyond tragic,” she said.

Bryce Kirk, tribal executive board member of the Fort Peck Tribes in Poplar, Montana, told the Natural Resources Committee in April that 5 pounds of meth and 5,000 fentanyl pills were seized on his reservation that were sent through the mail.

If those pills had hit the street, Kirk said they would be valued at $500,000.

“You think about the ones that are getting away, you think about the things that are happening,” he said.

Jeffrey Stiffarm, president of the Fort Belknap Indian Community, referenced a cartel killing on a reservation nearby to his in Harlem, Montana, that resulted in the deaths of two tribal members.

He said the cartels target reservations because they are easy to blend in with the people and because of the relative lack of law enforcement compared to other areas, only one officer available to cover his 700,000-acre reservation.

Stiffarm said numerous studies have been done to try and address human and drug trafficking on reservations, but nothing has ever come of them.

“We’re left alone to fight this problem against hundreds of thousands of cartel members coming into this country, coming on to our reservations, our homes, raping and murdering our people,” he said.

He and Kirk said they find it frustrating to see billions of dollars sent overseas rather than going to members of the tribes.

Kirk said 14-year-old girls are getting trafficked from his reservation to Williston, North Dakota, out of a desire to escape their poor living conditions, but unbeknownst to them to a fate much worse.

“We do need the help,” Kirk said. “We’ll continue to make a difference in our communities with the scraps that we’re given. We’ll continue to fight to save our people.”

Biden Connection

Hageman believes this situation is a direct byproduct of President Joe Biden’s management of immigration at the southern border.

“I talked to him (Trump) a little about that because I don’t think most people understand that is another byproduct of an open border and refusal to vet those people who are coming across,” Hageman said. “I think that’s something that the president (Trump) needs to be aware of.”

Biden has put together various task forces to address the issues of human trafficking and the growth of fentanyl.

In 2023, U.S. Secretary of the Interior Deb Haaland, the nation’s first Native American cabinet secretary, announced the formation of a new Missing and Murdered Unit within the Bureau of Indian Affairs. The unit is tasked specifically with investigating missing and murdered cases of Native Americans and Alaska Natives with access to marshal law enforcement resources throughout federal agencies.

Trump ‘Is Energized’

In addition to talking about the southern border, Hageman said Trump was enthusiastic and ready for the opportunity to lead the country again.

“He is ready to govern, he is excited, he is energized,” Hageman said.

She said Trump was eager to hear about the issues facing Wyoming, a state she believes will be supportive of Trump’s agenda if reelected. Wyoming voted for Trump with a larger margin than any other state in the 2020 presidential election.

“We’re going to turn this country around,” Hageman said while speaking at a political rally in Casper on Sunday. “We’re taking our country back. We’re doing it not only in Washington, D.C. but also right here in Wyoming.”

Hageman told Cowboy State Daily she and Trump also talked about the recent debate he had with President Joe Biden. She said Trump may have been as surprised as anyone at Biden’s lackluster performance.

“He was even surprised to a certain extent,” she said.

Hageman accused first lady Jill Biden of committing “elder abuse” by letting her husband participate in the debate.

Although Biden has been almost universally criticized for his debate performance, many of his supporters have argued that he won the debate on policy points and that Trump lied or misstated a number of facts.

Leo Wolfson can be reached at leo@cowboystatedaily.com.

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Leo Wolfson

Politics and Government Reporter