The Justice Department, activating expanded jurisdictional powers, said on Friday that it would join state and local law enforcement officials in combating serious crime on the violence-plagued White Earth Nation Indian reservation in Minnesota.
Federal officials, for the first time, triggered new authority under a three-year-old law allowing them to intervene in crime fighting on certain Indian lands.
Early this year, the White Earth Ojibwe tribe acknowledged it was experiencing an epidemic of substance abuse, and declared a public health emergency with respect to both illegal and prescription drugs.
The tribe said it was taking steps to try to deal with the issue.
Deputy Attorney General James Cole, along with U.S. Attorney for Minnesota Todd Jones, decided to invoke the 2010 Tribal Law and Order Act, which grants the federal government the authority to work with state authorities to fight serious crime.
Federal agents, under the new law, have expanded authority over crimes like murder, rape, felony assault and child abuse. Under previous laws, federal officials had more limited authority to pursue drug trafficking and financial crimes.