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News Release

Tohono O'odham Nation - Office of the Chairman and Vice Chairwoman

On April 19, 2022, U.S. President Joe Biden signed H.R. 5681, the Shadow Wolves Enhancement Act, into law. The measure will improve recruitment and expand operations for the Shadow Wolves, the country’s only Native American tracking unit.

An elite all-Native American unit within U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE), the Shadow Wolves operate on the Tohono O’odham Nation which shares 62-miles of international border with Mexico. Since 1974, these law enforcement officers have utilized traditional tracking methods to assist in disrupting and dismantling drug and human trafficking organizations.

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The Shadow Wolves have increasingly taken on investigative responsibilities, but were classified as tactical officers rather than special agents. This has created challenges in officer advancement and recruitment that has hampered the effectiveness and viability of the Shadow Wolves program.

With the signing of the Shadow Wolves Enhancement Act, that will change. The new law reclassifies the Shadow Wolves as ICE special agents and directs the U.S. Department of Homeland Security and the Government Accountability Office to study the best processes for expanding the Shadow Wolves program. The signing of this important legislation is the result of a bipartisan effort by Congressional leaders including Senator Kyrsten Sinema, Senator Mark Kelly, and U.S. Representative Ruben Gallego.

Tohono O’odham Nation Chairman Ned Norris, Jr. said:

“The signing of the Shadow Wolves Enhancement Act into law is a great step forward in protecting the Nation and the U.S. Homeland. Fixing the disparity in classification will ensure the future of this unique unit and its role in protecting our people from cartels and other criminal activity. This was the result of years of effort and the Nation is grateful to the many members of Congress who fought hard to get this legislation to President Biden’s desk.” 

Tohono O’odham Nation - Office of the Chairman and Vice Chairwoman - seals