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Navajo Nation declares public health state of emergency over AZ sober living homes scheme

The president of the Navajo Nation has declared a public health state of emergency. It’s for tribal members affected by the fraudulent behavioral health schemes targeting them in the Phoenix area.

President Buu Nygren signed the emergency declaration, he said, to help bolster funding for Operation Rainbow Bridge, the response tactic laid out to help Navajo victims. 

Some 5,000 to 8,000 Natives were caught up in a sober living home scheme targeting them in the Southwest. Scammers used rented properties to house victims; many people had to escape, and searches are still ongoing. 

'No matter where our Navajo people are, we care about them and we’ll continue to look for them," Nygren said as he signed the declaration.

Hundreds of people have been rescued. Some of those were officially listed as missing.

Fronteras Desk senior editor Michel Marizco is an award-winning investigative reporter based in Flagstaff.