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FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: March 15, 2010

SCHUMER, GILLIBRAND, OWENS CONTINUE CAMPAIGN TO SECURE INCREASED RESOURCES TO COMBAT DRUG-RELATED CRIME IN CENTRAL NEW YORK; URGE DRUG POLICY CHIEF TO BRING IMPORTANT DRUG FIGHTING RESOURCES TO JEFFERSON COUNTY


Schumer, Gillibrand, Owens Push Drug Policy Chief for Additional Fed Resources to Disrupt & Dismantle Drug Trafficking in Central New York

Addition of Jefferson County to Anti-Drug Trafficking Program Will Help Law Enforcement to Battle Drug Sales Statewide

Schumer, Gillibrand, Owens: Give Northern New York Additional Resources to Fight Crime, Control Drug Trade

U.S. Senators Charles E. Schumer and Kirsten Gillibrand and U.S. Representative Bill Owens today continued their push to bring more federal resources to combat drug smuggling networks in Jefferson County New York. Specifically, the legislators wrote in support of Jefferson County’s application to the New York/New Jersey High Intensity Drug Trafficking Area (HIDTA). Acceptance into the program would bring Jefferson County additional federal resources to combat drug trafficking.

 

“This has been a long, tough fight but I am confident that we can cut through the red tape and get this application approved. Jefferson County has worked around the clock to combat the drug smuggling pipeline that runs right through their community but they can only do so much without these critical resources,” Schumer said. “I was a huge proponent of adding Albany, Erie, Monroe, and Onondaga to the HIDTA in 2007, and we have already seen results.  Adding Jefferson County will add to that progress.”   

 

“There is nothing more important than the security of our communities,” said Senator Gillibrand. “The designation as a HIDTA would deliver the tools and resources we need on the ground to keep North Country streets safe and communities secure. I will continue working to keep our families safe.”

 

“If we want to get serious about developing our economy and bringing more jobs to the North Country, we need the resources to secure our borders,” Owens said.  “Our ports and border crossings in Jefferson County spur economic development in our region, but that development is threatened every time drugs are smuggled across the border.  The addition of Jefferson County to the New York/New Jersey HIDTA will help us control the drug trade, keep our communities safe, and enhance trade in our area.”

 

“Adding Jefferson County to the HIDTA program will bring needed federal resources to my department,” said Jefferson County Sheriff John Burns. “We have a major highway, border crossing, and 268 square miles of coastline to protect from drug-trafficking and this designation will put the Jefferson County Sherriff’s Department in a place to fight this problem harder than ever before.”  

 

The mission of the HIDTA program is to disrupt the market for illegal drugs in the United States by assisting federal, state, and local law enforcement entities to dismantle and disrupt drug trafficking organizations – with an emphasis on drug trafficking regions that have harmful effects on other parts of the United States.  Since 1990, 28 regions in the United States, comprising 14% of U.S. counties, have been designated as HIDTAs and are eligible to receive targeted funding through the program.  A HIDTA is regarded as a coordinating umbrella for federal, state and local agencies.  Once the White House Office of National Drug Control Policy (ONDCP), in consultation with a number of government officials such as the Attorney General, designates a region as a HIDTA, the region can receive federal money to help local law enforcement clamp down on illegal drugs transported through those counties.  The HIDTA’s Executive Board then allocates funding in order to fight drug trafficking most effectively. 

 

A HIDTA designation would provide much-needed federal resources to increase communication between state, local, and federal law enforcement agencies so that they can disrupt and dismantle drug trafficking and money laundering organizations in the region.

 

Jefferson County presents a significant threat for cross-border importation of illegal drugs and satisfies the requirements for the HIDTA expansion.  The County includes one Port of Entry, Alexandria Bay, and two other border crossings, at Cape Vincent and Clayton. Jefferson County is the ninth largest county in New York State and is approximately sixty miles north of Syracuse. Smugglers are taking advantage of the terrain, interconnecting roadways and inadequate law enforcement resources to facilitate the transportation and distribution of large quantities of Canadian produced marijuana and MDMA through Jefferson County. Interstate 81 provides a significant route for drug traffickers to transport drugs from Canada to Syracuse, ultimately leading south to Interstate 87 and connecting to New York City.

 

In 2007, Schumer was a strong supporter of expanding the existing HIDTA to include Onondaga, Albany, Erie and Monroe Counties, and wrote at the time to ONDCP, urging action.  The addition of the four counties in 2007 has played a significant role in facilitating communication between state, local and federal law enforcement agencies, and in disrupting and dismantling drug trafficking and money laundering organizations in the region. 

 

In 2009, Senators Schumer and Gillibrand successfully urged the expansion of  HIDTA to include Clinton, Franklin and St. Lawrence. The addition of Jefferson County would play a critical role in reducing the flow of narcotics throughout New York, and into the rest of the United States. The addition of, Jefferson County would play a critical role in reducing the flow of narcotics throughout New York, and into the rest of the United States.  Funding from the 2007 expansion of the HIDTA allowed for the hiring of two new senior drug intelligence officers, who are now stationed near the northern border of New York.

 

By law, the Director of ONDCP evaluates, coordinates, and oversees both the international and domestic anti-drug efforts of executive branch agencies and ensures that such efforts sustain and complement State and local anti-drug activities. The Director advises the President regarding changes in the organization, management, budgeting, and personnel of Federal Agencies that could affect the Nation's anti-drug efforts; and regarding Federal agency compliance with their obligations under the strategy.

 

Today, the legislators sent a letter to ONCDP Director Kerlikowske urging him to accept the New Jersey/New York HIDTA's application to expand the designation to Jefferson County. The full text of the letter is below.

 

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The Honorable R. Gil Kerlikowske

Director, White House Office

of National Drug Control Policy

750 17th Street, N.W.

Washington, D.C. 20503

 

Dear Director Kerlikowske:

 

We write to express our strong support for the enclosed application submitted by the New York/New Jersey HIDTA, seeking expansion of the HIDTA to include New York’s Jefferson County.  The application is currently pending.

 

We believe Jefferson County presents a significant threat for cross-border importation of illegal drugs and that the County satisfies the requirements for the HIDTA expansion.  The County includes one Port of Entry, Alexandria Bay, and two other border crossings, at Cape Vincent and Clayton.  Jefferson County is the ninth largest county in New York State and is approximately sixty miles north of Syracuse. 

 

As described in the application, smugglers are taking advantage of the terrain, interconnecting roadways and inadequate law enforcement resources to facilitate the transportation and distribution of large quantities of Canadian produced marijuana and MDMA through Jefferson County.  Interstate 81 provides a significant route for drug traffickers to transport drugs from Canada to Syracuse, ultimately leading south to Interstate 87 and connecting to New York City.

 

As you know, in 2009 the HIDTA was expanded to include Clinton, Franklin, and St. Lawrence Counties. We thank you for their inclusion.  The addition of these three counties will play a significant role in enhancing drug enforcement efforts on the northern border.  The designation of Jefferson County as part of the NY/NJ HIDTA can only further efforts to combat drug trafficking in our nation and enhance our national security.  

 

We look forward to seeing Jefferson County added to the HIDTA, and to working together with you on future ONDCP priorities.

 

 

Sincerely,

Sen. Charles E. Schumer                                                                                                                                                                                                  

Sen. Kirsten E. Gillibrand

Rep. Bill Owens

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