Task force fights back against drugs, gangs on tribal reservations


By Raeanna Marnati, KBJR 6

Red Cliff, Wisconsin ( NNCNOW.com)— It’s a rising problem on the Red Cliff Reservation. “We see a lot of marijuana, prescription medications are huge problem in our community, we’re starting to see heroin and methamphetamine come in, cocaine’s always been here,” said Red Cliff Police Chief Bill Mertig.

But tribal authorities are tackling the problem head first, thanks to the formation of the Native American Drug and Gang Initiative formed in 2007.

“We are able to focus on and share information on future gang trends, drug problems and then also to we can take these experts in the field and be able to work these investigations, knowing the community, knowing the players and be able to almost surgically identify and remove these threats,” said Bryan Kastelic, Native American Drug and Gang Initiative Task Force Commander.

The task force is made up of ten tribal police departments throughout Wisconsin.

It’s a collaboration between tribal, local, state and federal authorities to help with drug and gang identification on the reservation.

“It has the ability to shut the drug trade down be it for a few days or a few weeks but it still has the ability and it sends a signal that we will be back and that we are out there,” said Kastelic.

NADGI recently played a role in the arrest and apprehension of five people taking part in illegal drug activity on the Red Cliff Reservation.

Cash, guns, marijuana, and prescription pills were seized in the bust. But for the police, they have just scratched the surface

“We are not stopping at what we did, this is the start. We have a long way to get to the finish line,” said Mertig.

Officials with NADGI say a lack of support, manpower and funding among tribal police departments led to the formation.

Meth nearly kills 10-month-old boy

Eric Stevick, The Herald

EVERETT — Exposure to methamphetamine nearly cost a 10-month-old Marysville boy his life.

The toddler overdosed on the drug in December and was taken to a Seattle hospital, according to a Marysville Police Department report.

Doctors had to insert tubes down the child’s airway after he stopped breathing on his own,

Police on Friday arrested a man who lived at the home in the 6400 block of 105th Street NE where the baby became deathly ill. The suspect, 26, was arrested for investigation of endangerment with a controlled substance and was booked into the Snohomish County Jail.

The suspect allegedly told a detective, “This is my fault. I almost killed (the boy.)”

The baby first was taken to Providence Regional Medical Center Everett. A nurse there told a Marysville officer that the boy had been admitted to the emergency room for an amphetamine overdose. She said his health was quickly deteriorating.

Police said the man had custody of the boy and shared a room with him at the time. The nature of his connection to the child was not clear in redacted police documents.

A search warrant of the suspect’s bedroom turned up the baby’s crib as well as a marijuana pipe beneath the man’s pillow. A meth pipe was found wrapped in a black bandana in a sunglass case in the bottom drawer of a night stand.

The suspect allegedly acknowledged using meth in a garage that was about 12 feet from the living area where the baby was crawling Dec. 27.

Police believe a meth pipe was loaded with meth within six feet of the bedroom where the baby was sleeping.

The suspect allegedly knew that the baby “was in the stage of crawling around the house, picking up things on the floor and putting the items in his mouth,” police wrote.

The man reportedly was well aware of the risks of doing drugs around young children.

An acquaintance told police that the man had a rule of not picking up or touching the baby when he was high.