DOJ Officials and Tribal Leaders to Discuss Impact of Heroin and Opioid Epidemic on New Mexico's Tribal Communities

Media Availability to Follow DOJ Listening Session with Tribal Leaders and Police Chiefs from Northern New Mexico & Medical Professionals who Provide Care to Native Americans

HOPE Initiative’s National Heroin and Opioid Awareness Week Event to be held on September 20, 2016 at Indian Pueblo Cultural Center in Albuquerque


Article in the Navajo Times

Article in the Navajo Times

     ALBUQUERQUE –  The New Mexico Heroin and Opioid Prevention and Education (HOPE) Initiative, a partnership between the UNM Health Sciences Center and the U.S. Attorney’s Office, is hosting a series of education events during National Heroin and Opioid Awareness Week, Sept. 19-24, 2016.  Bruce G. Ohr, Associate Deputy Attorney General and Director of DOJ’s Organized Crime Drug Enforcement Task Force (OCDETF) Program, will participate in the HOPE Initiative’s events.  

     The HOPE Initiative’s Awareness Week events will include a listening session during which Justice Department officials will hear from tribal leaders from the New Mexico tribes most deeply affected by the national heroin and opioid epidemic.  At 2:00 pm on Sept. 20, 2016, tribal leaders and police chiefs from the Eight Northern Indian Pueblos will meet with Associate Deputy Attorney General Ohr and U.S. Attorney Damon P. Martinez at the Indian Pueblo Cultural Center in Albuquerque, N.M., to discuss the devastating impact heroin and opioids have had on tribal communities in northern New Mexico.  Indian Health Services (IHS) physicians who provide care to New Mexico's Native American population and medical professionals from the UNM Health Science Center who provide pain and addiction training to IHS providers throughout the country will participate in the discussion. 

     Tribal leaders, DOJ officials, and medical professionals from the UNM Health Sciences Center will be available to meet with the media at 3:30 p.m. at the Indian Pueblo Cultural Center following the listening session.  Discussion details from this event will be posted to the NM HOPE Initiative website and available to the public at

WHO: DOJ Officials, Tribal Leaders and UNM Medical Providers will be available to speak with the media at 3:30 pm following the listening session.

Participants in Listening Session (in formation)

        Associate Deputy Attorney General Bruce G. Ohr
        U.S. Attorney Damon P. Martinez
        Gil Vigil, Executive Director Eight Northern Indian Pueblos, Inc.
        Pojoaque Pueblo Governor Joseph Talachy
        Santa Clara Pueblo Governor Michael Chavarria
        Dr. Joanna G. Katzman, Director of the UNM Pain Clinic
        Dr. Snehal R. Bhatt, UNM Psychiatry Center, Medical Director of Addictions and Substance Abuse Programs
        Dr. Leonard Thomas, Acting Director and Chief Medical Officer, Albuquerque Area Office, Indian Health Services
        Assistant Special Agent in Charge John Burge, BIA Office of Justice Services
        Assistant Special Agent in Charge Louis Poitra, BIA Office of Justice Services
        Police Chief Brenda Gonzalez, BIA Northern Pueblos Agency
        Police Chief Travis LeBeaux, BIA Southern Pueblos Agency
        Special Agent Craig, BIA Division of Drug Enforcement
        Pojoaque Pueblo Tribal Police Chief Frank Rael
        Santa Clara Pueblo Tribal Police Chief Roger Naranjo

WHAT: Media Availability following DOJ Listening Session with Tribal Leaders 

WHEN: Tuesday, September 20, 2016 at 3:30 pm

WHERE: Indian Pueblo Cultural Center

               2401 12th Street NW, Albuquerque, NM

              OPEN PRESS

              NOTE: All media must present government-issued photo I.D. (i.e., driver’s license) and valid media credentials.  Media may begin to arrive at 3:15 pm.  Inquiries regarding logistics should be directed to Alyssa Ferda at 505-224-1480 (office), 505-366-1463 (cell), or

              NOTE:  Reporters who cannot participate in the media availability but are interested in participating in telephone interviews conference should contact Alyssa Ferda. See contact information above.     

     The HOPE Initiative was launched in January 2015 by the UNM Health Sciences Center and the U.S. Attorney’s Office in response to the national opioid epidemic, which has had a disproportionately devastating impact on New Mexico.  Opioid addiction has taken a toll on public safety, public health and the economic viability of our communities.  Working in partnership with the DEA, the Bernalillo County Opioid Accountability Initiative, Healing Addiction in our Community (HAC), the Albuquerque Public Schools and other community stakeholders, HOPE’s principal goals are to protect our communities from the dangers associated with heroin and opioid painkillers and reducing the number of opioid related deaths in New Mexico.  The HOPE Initiative is comprised of five components:  (1) prevention and education; (2) treatment; (3) law enforcement; (4) reentry; and (5) strategic planning.  Learn more about the New Mexico HOPE Initiative at


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