Tribal, foreign officials meeting on drug trafficking, other concerns

NEW TOWN Fifteen top law enforcement officials from Central and South America are at New Town today meeting with Three Affiliated Tribes’ officials on drug and human trafficking and other concerns on Fort Berthold Reservation.

The drug trafficking concern has reached epic proportions on Fort Berthold the Mandan, Hidatsa and Arikara Nation and is crippling the justice system, social service programs and healthcare costs, according to Fort Berthold District Court officials. Court officials said their goal is to create a national and international forum between law enforcement agencies to strategically plan, organize and share resources to bring safety, health care and well being back to their nation’s community.

The visitors are in the U.S. under the State Department’s International Visitor Leadership Program. The Graduate School USA in Washington, D.C., arranged their program.

They are involved in a Western Hemisphere regional project called Combating International Crime. Participants are examining U.S. policies and strategies dealing with a broad spectrum of international organized crime including human trafficking, arms, and narcotics and financial crimes such as money laundering, according to State Department information.

The project objectives include to promote a better understanding of U.S. objectives in international crime issues, foster better cooperation between law enforcement entities throughout the Western Hemisphere, and introduce participants to the mission, organization and management of the Department of Homeland Security and the coordination among its principal member agencies.

The project is for government and law enforcement officials, prosecuting and private attorneys, academics, immigration officials and others who deal with international crime issues. No journalists are involved in the project.

The participants in North Dakota this week are from Argentina, Bolivia, Chile, Colombia, Costa Rica, Ecuador, Guatemala, Panama, Paraguay and Peru.

On Wednesday, the group visited the Portal Port of Entry to meet with representatives from the U.S. Customs and Border Patrol and U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement.

Joseph Jastrzembski, Minot State University history professor with the Minot Area Council for International Visitors who is among local representatives accompanying the group in the Minot area, said the Minot region is the group’s last segment of the three-week program that took them to various locations.The visitors started their project in Washington, D.C., and then went to New York and Portland before arriving in Minot Tuesday evening. They will meet for a closing meeting at MSU on Friday.