The Blood Tribe was the first Alberta community to sound alarms about the rise of fentanyl abuse, now five non-tribal members – all currently facing drug-related charges – are banished from the reserve.
In a release issued Thursday afternoon, Blood Tribe leadership said they have made it official to enforce an action for trespassing on reserve lands.
Five individuals have been charged by the Blood Tribe Police for allegedly trafficking drugs, as well as for firearm possession.
Two of them are Shoul Akayi Dang and Khawai Jany, were both arrested during a vehicle stop on the reserve, Oct. 29.
Police seized nearly 74 suspected fentanyl pills, 29 grams of suspected cocaine, four grams of marijuana, $1,600 in cash, a knife and firearm ammunition.
Dang was charged with possession for the purpose of trafficking fentanyl, breach of recognizance and breach of a firearm prohibition. Jany was charged with possession for the purpose of trafficking cocaine, and possession of cannabis marijuana.
A portion of the Band Council Resolution states that “Shoul Akayi Dang and Khawai Jany are not authorized to be on the Blood Reserve and therefore are trespassers and any implied or express invitation to them is revoked and they are specifically banished from the Blood Reserve and if they, or any one of them, is found on the Blood Reserve they, or any one of them, will be considered to be trespassing on the Blood Reserve and will be prosecuted to the full extent of the law.”
Also banished from the Blood Reserve are Shay Vincent Saddleback, charged with possession for the purpose of trafficking, and Stacey Neal Saddleback and Kyle Mitchell Saddleback, charged with the possession for the purpose of trafficking.
Dr. Esther Tailfeathers, a physician on the reserve, began warning about a spike in deaths from fentanyl use in the fall of 2014.
Since then, the reserve has responded by increasing police patrols, opening a 24-hour crisis line for users, distributing a life-saving antidote called naloxone which reverses the effects of overdoses, and prescribing suboxone, a replacement therapy designed to treat opioid addictions, among other steps.
Insp. Joseph Many Fingers, of Blood Tribe police, said the reserve has seen a decline in fentanyl use since May, following these community efforts and a police crackdown on suspected dealers.
The Blood Tribe Police Service encourages the general public to submit tips to the Crime Reduction Unit at their anonymous tip email: firstname.lastname@example.org. Telephone: 430-737-8800 or submit information at http://www.tipsubmit.com.