Navajo officials search for tribal members victimized in fake sober-living facility scheme in Arizona.

Leaders of the Navajo Nation have initiated an operation known as Rainbow Bridge to provide necessary services to hundreds of tribal members who are expected to be displaced soon due to the ongoing crackdown on Medicaid fraud in Arizona. The crackdown has affected approximately 7,000 Native Americans who were recruited to illegitimate sober living homes in recent times. The operation, which was launched on Friday, will offer aid and services to those who have been displaced after being indicted or having their Medicaid funding cut off.

The operation was formed in response to actions announced this week by the State of Arizona against over 100 unlicensed and fraudulent sober living homes located in the Phoenix metropolitan area. Navajo officials reported that in some cases, those impacted were picked up in white vans and brought to Phoenix from locations such as the sprawling Navajo Nation that stretches across northern Arizona, New Mexico, and Utah. In some cases, individuals did not know the locations of the homes where they were residing.

Navajo Attorney General, Ethel Branch, stated, “I view this as a humanitarian and a human rights crisis”. The goal of the operation is to get individuals into treatment programs and ultimately reunite them with their families. Branch called for an investigation into the operators of fraudulent homes for human trafficking, though this has not been part of the current investigation.

Harlan Cleveland, the special operations coordinator for the project and part of the Navajo Division of Public Safety, reported that over the last 24 hours, more than two dozen Navajo tribal members were found wandering the streets of Phoenix after being displaced by these fraudulent homes.

Along with teams that are actively seeking former residents of the illegitimate sober living homes, the Operation Rainbow Bridge toolbox includes a Facebook page, a TikTok account (currently under construction), and a “211” hotline that the Navajo tribe is advertising among its members, which allows those affected and their families to receive more assistance.

Arizona Health Care Cost Containment System oversees the state’s Medicaid programs and has thus far cut off funding to over 100 homes targeted by the probe and is prepared to halt the flow of cash to many more in the upcoming months.

State officials believe the fake homes have defrauded Arizona out of hundreds of millions of dollars in federal Medicaid dollars. Authorities have seized $75 million thus far and have issued 45 indictments in the investigation, which has also involved the FBI and the U.S. Attorney General’s Office. Kris Mayes, the Arizona Attorney General, stated that investigators believe the scam was initiated by a Nevada-based criminal syndicate, spawning numerous franchises before the idea spread to other scammers. She added that hundreds of phoney sober living homes are thought to be currently operating in the Phoenix area and in northern Arizona communities, including Prescott.

The Navajo authorities said tribal members seeking aid for addiction were recruited from as far away as the northern community of Tuba City, Arizona, and even New Mexico with false hopes of recovery.

Related Articles

Back to top button