Shadow Wolves: Tracking the Drug War

| October 18, 2001

Shadow Wolves: Tracking the Drug War

The Tohono O'Odham Reservation, just west of Tucson, Arizona, is the country's second largest Indian reservation. The Connecticut-sized tract of land, home to about 12,000 people, is unique in that it includes some 70 miles of international border. It's also home to a special unit of the U.S. Customs Service, the Shadow Wolves.

The Shadow Wolves, a unit of 19 American Indians, are small in number, but remarkably effective, reports Shane DuBow in the Tucson Weekly. The unit accounted for nearly a third of all drugs seized by Arizona customs last year.

Many of the Wolves are former stand-out police officers and soldiers, but mostly the Shadow Wolves credit their success to their upbringing, which involved tracking livestock and hunting game. 'Anyone can be tracked,' says one officer. 'Even at night, even over rocks.'

While Wolves have a cocksure attitude about their abilities for stopping drug smugglers, the reservation remains a dramatic reminder of their tenuous success. According to Shadow Wolves officers, clinics in the Tohono O'Odham Reservation are packed with addicts and the reservation is littered with trash, mostly from smugglers and illegal aliens passing through.
--Kate Garsombke
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