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Federal prosecutions up in Indian Country

In 2012, 33 of 50 prosecutions from Warm Springs


Federal prosecutions in Indian Country have increased across the country, according to a recently released Department of Justice report to Congress.

Since the 2009 fiscal year, prosecutions have increased by an average of 54 percent nationwide, but at a higher rate locally.

“While the numbers are gratifying, they are only a small part of the story. What we are most proud of is the way tribal leaders and justice officials have worked together in recent years to find and implement responses to violent crime in Indian Country,” said U.S. Attorney Amanda Marshall, of Portland.

In Oregon, there were 31 Indian Country cases prosecuted in 2011, increasing to 50 cases in 2012, which represents a 62 percent increase in a single year. About two-thirds of the Oregon cases prosecuted were from Warm Springs.

"The major crimes ranged from sex abuse to assault to homicide to drug trafficking," said Craig Gabriel, of Portland, assistant U.S. attorney for the District of Oregon.

Of the 31 Oregon cases in 2011, 21 were from the Warm Springs Reservation, and of the 50 in 2012, 33 were from Warm Springs. Prosecutions from Warm Springs increased 63.7 percent.

Addressing the significant increase in charges, Gabriel explained, "The reason why is because the Warm Springs Police Department, the FBI and the U.S. Attorney's Office have partnered to aggressively prosecute the most violent offenders in the Warm Springs community."

"In fact, the 33 defendants we prosecuted in 2012 represents the largest number of defendants our office has prosecuted in a calendar year."

The Warm Springs Police Department was the first in the country to receive funding as a designated high-intensity drug trafficking area. "Those funds have been used to investigate drug-trafficking organizations, which are often controlled by violent gangs," he said.

"The efforts of the entire Warm Springs community, including the Child Abuse Multidisciplinary Team, the Child Advocacy Center they opened last year, and the enhanced gang enforcement operation have made a positive difference in the safety of the community," Gabriel said.

"Specifically," he added, "the collaboration among Nancy Seyler, the chief tribal prosecutor, Police Chief Carmen Smith, and victim advocate Toni Made has reduced crime and protected victims."

Marshall praised the passage of the Tribal Law and Order Act, the Violence Against Women Act, and interagency collaboration in both prevention and enforcement.

"Here in Oregon, I am especially proud of the way our office has worked to not only fight crime, but also to provide technical expertise, training, consultation, and prosecution resources to assist tribes in exercising their law enforcement, sentencing, and jurisdictional authority," she said.

"We have a proud tradition of honoring our trust responsibility to Oregon tribes," Marshall said. "From the country’s first tribal High-Intensity Drug Trafficking Area (HIDTA) program at Warm Springs to the nation’s first tribal court sentencing to the Bureau of Prisons under the provisions of the TLOA by the Umatilla Tribe, our partnerships with tribes have paved the way for significant improvements to public safety in Indian Country."

Marshall consults with leaders from all nine of Oregon’s tribes to listen to their concerns about public safety in their communities. She also serves on the Attorney General’s Native American Advisory Committee and is chairman of the Juvenile Justice in Indian Country Working Group.

In Oregon, the U.S. Attorney’s Office has the responsibility to prosecute major crimes on the Warm Springs Indian Reservation, the Burns-Paiute Indian Reservation, and the Umatilla Indian Reservation.

Read the entire report at www.justice.gov/tribal/tloa-report-cy-2011-2012.pdf. Read more about the Justice Department’s efforts to increase public safety in Indian County at www.justice.gov/tribal/accomplishments.html.




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