Red Lake Nation News - Babaamaajimowinan (Telling of news in different places)

FBI and Navajo Police Raid Hemp Farm on Tribal Land


November 13, 2020

The Federal Bureau of Investigation joined the Navajo Nation Police and over a dozen other law enforcement agencies in a raid on the hemp operation owned by Dineh Benally, the Navajo Times reports. The raid, dubbed “Operation Navajo Gold,” came following reports of THC-rich cannabis production, interstate drug trafficking, and violations of labor and child labor laws.

Benally is the former president of the San Juan River Board and last month the Navajo Nation Council passed an amendment to outlaw hemp production primarily due to his suspected illegal activities.

Navajo Nation President Jonathan Nez said that Benally and his unnamed investors “sought to take advantage of what they believed to be a jurisdictional gap on the Navajo Nation that would allow them to operate outside the law.” In September, a Navajo Nation court granted a temporary restraining order and injunction against Benally and his companies from continuing their hemp operations. Following that order, tribal officials inspected the farm and “discovered that a significant portion of the crop being grown appeared to be marijuana,” the Navajo Department of Justice said in a press release. Additionally, the agency said a significant number of foreign workers were being employed at the farm.


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