Missoula, MT (KGVO-AM News) - Friday, May 5 was officially ‘MMIP Awareness Day’, and the U.S. Justice Department made the statement that responding to the unacceptable levels of violence that have led to the crisis of Missing or Murdered Indigenous Persons is a priority for the Department of Justice every day.

KGVO News reached out to Montana U.S. Attorney Jesse Laslovich on what the state of Montana is doing to investigate these issues and bring perpetrators to justice.

U.S. Attorney Laslovich said MMIP Awareness is a Priority

“May 5 was an MMIP Awareness Day throughout the country, a priority for me, a priority for our office and of course, the United States Department of Justice and specifically here in Montana,” began Laslovich. “These are really difficult cases right? Missing or Murdered Indigenous Persons and we currently have 40 officially, although I'm sure that number is higher. And I say that just simply because as I travel and meet with tribal councils in Montana, there always seemed to be more cases.”

Laslovich said in Montana there has already been some success in these investigations.

Laslovich said Some Progress has Been Made with MMIP Cases

“Already there is some progress,” he said. “Last year, I think when you and I talked briefly about missing and murdered indigenous person issues, there were around 48 people missing, so there has been progress in terms of people being found or cases being resolved, so that part is encouraging.”

Laslovich said there is a troubling aspect to the investigation into one particular case; that of Jermaine Charlo.

Regarding the Case of Jarmaine Charlo, Laslovich said 'People are Lying'

Laslovich described the obstacles that some have placed in the way of finding the missing woman, specifically that some are lying about the case.

“There's a lack of cooperation, and by that, I mean, for some reason, there are people who know, right?” he said. “Clearly, you mentioned Jermaine Charlo. There's at least someone who knows, but yet they are not coming forward or they are, in fact, lying. And, and sadly, we obviously have that off of our reservations, as well from time to time, but certainly, when it comes to many of these MMIP cases, it's just that there isn't someone who is willing to talk or equally troubling, they're lying.”

Laslovich said there is only one solution to solving the Jermaine Charlo case, and that is someone must come forward and tell the truth.

“Speak up,” he said. “We're all connected in some way. To your point about being a small state, even if it's a whisper that someone has heard from a friend, then law enforcement needs to know. As I said earlier, it's just a matter of someone saying something to us; a little nugget. They may not think it's much, but based on what it is we know depending on the case, it may be the one that blows it all open and then we can we can go and start making a successful prosecution.”

For more information about the Department of Justice’s efforts to address the MMIP crisis, please visit here.

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