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Feds will be able to prosecute more crimes on the Mille Lacs Reservation

The U.S. Department of Justice announced Tuesday it will assume concurrent jurisdiction to prosecute major crimes on the Mille Lacs Band of Ojibwe's reservation next year.

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The U.S. Department of Justice announced Tuesday it will assume concurrent jurisdiction to prosecute major crimes on the Mille Lacs Band of Ojibwe's reservation next year. By U.S. government (Extracted from PDF file available here.) [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons

The U.S. Department of Justice announced Tuesday it will assume concurrent jurisdiction to prosecute major crimes on the Mille Lacs Band of Ojibwe's reservation next year.

The DOJ already has jurisdiction to prosecute crimes such as drug trafficking wherever they occur in the U.S., including on the Mille Lacs Reservation, a DOJ release said.
The new power will allow federal prosecution of crimes such as murder, rape, felony assault and felony child abuse.

Tribal, state and county prosecutors and police will continue to have jurisdiction on the reservation.

The expanded federal role took center stage in Chief Executive Melanie Benjamin's State of the Band Address, also on Tuesday.

Benjamin said federal jurisdiction would help deter crime on the reservation and directly addressed criminals who might bring drugs into Mille Lacs.

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"We need this message to go out to drug dealers, gang members and anyone intent on committing violent crimes on our lands: we will catch you, and when we do, you are going to Leavenworth, not Stillwater ... and you are not getting out for a very, very long time," a Band release quoted Benjamin as saying. "Tell the dealers ... if you don't want to go to federal prison, get off our lands now, and stay out."

The U.S. Penitentiary at Leavenworth, Kan., is a federal prison, whereas the Minnesota Correctional Facility at Stillwater is a state prison. Both are for male inmates.

The impact of crime on the Band also featured in Benjamin's address.

"Benjamin shared stories from community meetings held across the reservation on the issue of drugs and crime in the community and discussed the devastating impact addiction has on Band members and their families," the Band release said.

The Mille Lacs Band submitted an application in 2013 for the DOJ to obtain concurrent jurisdiction, and was the second tribe in the country to have its application approved under the Tribal Law and Order Act of 2010.

The new jurisdiction will take effect on Jan. 1, 2017, the DOJ said.

ZACH KAYSER may be reached at 218-855-5860 or Zach.Kayser@brainerddispatch.com . Follow him on Twitter at www.twitter.com/ZWKayser .

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