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Shadow Wolves – Focus Shifts From Counterdrug to Counterterrorism

Since the 1970’s federal law enforcement officials have maintained a unit of Native American officers as trackers along the U.S.-Mexican border helping to hunt down drug smugglers. This unit of what was the U.S. Customs Service (now the Department of Homeland Security), was created by an act of Congress in 1972, the Shadow Wolves are an all-Indian Customs unit—possibly the world's best trackers— possess a unique set of skills passed down from generation to generation to pursue smugglers along a remote stretch of the U.S.-Mexico border. They were recruited from several tribes, including the Navajo, Sioux, Lakota and Apache. Efforts now are underway to expand the fifteen member unit to 21. One requirement will remain, however: Shadow Wolves agents must be at least one-quarter Indian.

As described in an article from the New York Times, In Arizona Desert, Indian Trackers vs. Smugglers

“Detecting is one thing, and apprehending is something entirely different,” said Rodney Irby, a special agent in Tucson for the immigration agency who helps supervise the Shadow Wolves. “I applaud the technology; it will only make the border more secure. But there are still going to be groups of people who penetrate the most modern technology, and we need a cadre of agents and officers to apprehend them.”

On the Arizona border, the Shadow Wolves have seized nearly 30,000 pounds of illegal drugs since October and routinely seize 100,000 pounds of illegal drugs a year. Based on this success and the concern that drug trafficking on the Northern border is increasing, the DHS is considering forming a sister unit to patrol part of the Canadian border at the Blackfeet reservation in Montana.

Adding to the challenge is that drug smugglers have enlisted tribal members or forced them into cooperation, sometimes stashing their loads in the ramshackle houses dotting the landscape or paying the young to act as guides. Several tribal members live on the Mexican side, and those on the American side have long freely crossed the border, which they usually do through a few informal entry points that drug traffickers, too, have picked up on.

It is now being reported that the Shadow Wolves trackers have been enlisted to hunt bin Laden

An elite group of Native American trackers is joining the hunt for terrorists crossing Afghanistan's borders…

The Taliban's resurgence in Afghanistan and the US military's failure to hunt down Osama bin Laden - still at large on his 50th birthday on Saturday - has prompted the Pentagon to requisition them.

US Defense Secretary Robert M.Gates said last month: "If I were Osama bin Laden, I'd keep looking over my shoulder."

“Tracking skills are in such demand that the Departments of State and Defense have arranged for the Shadow Wolves to train border guards in Central Asia, including some central to the fight against terrorism.” Several officers are going to train border police in Tajikistan and Uzbekistan bordering Afghanistan, and elsewhere.

In many circles, the importance of the capture (or confirmed death) of bin Laden is minimized. But despite a $25 million bounty on his head and the use of billions of dollars worth of sophisticated equipment, US forces have so far failed to capture bin Laden "dead or alive". Maybe this new approach will finally get these results. Before anyone gets too agitated over this, I and many others believe that bin Laden’s capture or death will not end the jihad. Personally, I believe that if he was already dead, his martyrdom would have been extolled.


Listed below are links that reference Shadow Wolves – Focus Shifts From Counterdrug to Counterterrorism:

» 'Shadow Wolves' help hunt bin Laden from Cop The Truth
'The Shadow Wolves', a team of Native American trackers, including members of the Navajo, Sioux, Lakota and Apache tribes, is being sent to Tajikistan and Uzbekistan to help train units in the fine art of tracking.The unit, the Shadow Wolves, [Read More]