Drug sweep of North Carolina tribal land nets 76 arrests

RALEIGH, N.C. (AP) — Federal officials say 76 people were arrested on drug charges in a sweep of traffickers on western North Carolina tribal land.

Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke told reporters Thursday the operation, which focused on the Eastern Band of Cherokee Indians’ reservation, began weeks ago and culminated in recent days with arrests by federal, state, local and tribal officers.

He said officers seized about 250 pounds (113 kilograms) of heroin, pills and other drugs with a $2 million street value.

The tribe’s principal chief, Richard Sneed, said he hopes the operation closely involving tribal police becomes a national model. He said reservations have been hit particularly hard by the national opioid crisis.

Twelve arrestees face federal charges carrying up to 20 years in prison; the rest face local or tribal charges.

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