- Associated Press - Wednesday, June 27, 2018

GREAT FALLS, Mont. (AP) - The Blackfeet Tribal Business Council banned a convicted drug dealer from coming onto the reservation in northern Montana.

Tribal Council Chairman Harry Barnes told the Great Falls Tribune the decision is a message to drug dealers who would prey on reservation residents and is a reaction to concerns that the U.S. attorney’s office is not doing enough to prosecute drug cases on the reservation.

The council passed a resolution 5-3 on June 7 saying that Mark John Keuter “is immediately excluded and banished” from the reservation, Barnes said. Keuter, 58, was sentenced in April for criminal possession of dangerous drugs. He is reportedly in a diversion program and could not be reached for comment.

The tribal council first approved a policy in 2015 to banish drug dealers, but Barnes says he believes this is the first time they have done so.

Barnes complained the tribe needed to act because members don’t believe the U.S. attorney’s office is doing enough to prosecute reservation-related drug cases.

“We’ve asked previous U.S. attorneys to enforce drug laws, but drug crimes are not high on their priority list,” Barnes said. But if a tribal leader takes a bribe, “it’s a big headline.”

Leif Johnson with the U.S. attorney’s office in Montana said Wednesday the office does take drug cases on the reservation, “and we prosecute them all. That has been the rule for quite some time.”

U.S. Attorney Kurt Alme spoke Wednesday at the Indian Drug Trafficking Training Conference in Albuquerque, saying the key to reducing drug use on the reservations is having federal, state and tribal law enforcement officers work together on task forces to arrest drug traffickers and reduce the supply.

Alme said another key is to reduce the demand and noted there were federal grants available for tribes for prevention, treatment and diversion.


Information from: Great Falls Tribune, http://www.greatfallstribune.com

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