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Wednesday, May 21, 2003

A matter of "Homeland Security"

Drug dealers face banishment
Lummi Tribe gets tough with new rules to fight narcotics


LUMMI RESERVATION -- The next two years behind bars might seem easy to John Jefferson compared with what will follow.

When Jefferson emerges from federal prison, he faces the prospect of life as an exile -- banished from the Lummi reservation, stripped of membership in the tribe, separated from his people. For Jefferson -- whose world has always been defined by the boundaries of this rural reservation north of Bellingham -- nothing could be worse.
His crime: dealing dope to a tribe so ravaged by drugs that Lummi leaders have decided that putting dealers in prison is not punishment enough. So they've turned to banishment.
This isn't about tough love. It's about survival.
Last spring, after a dozen babies were born addicted to drugs in as many months, after a forlorn addict hanged himself from a tree, after a 14-month-old girl picked a narcotic pill from the floor like it was candy and died from an overdose, tribal Chairman Darrell Hillaire declared eradication of drugs to be a matter of homeland security and drug dealers to be the evil axis. And since that time, at least 12 people have been convicted on drug charges as a result of joint investigations by Lummi tribal police and the FBI.
John Jefferson is one of them. So is his fiancee, Cathy Lane, who was the brains behind the drug-dealing operation. Within the next few days, the Lummi council will consider whether to strip Jefferson and Lane from the tribal membership roster. If council members do that, the matter goes to tribal court for final consideration.(more)

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