FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: May 11, 2009

With New Drug Czar Confirmed: SCHUMER, GILLIBRAND, MCHUGH CONTINUE CAMPAIGN TO SECURE INCREASED RESOURCES TO COMBAT DRUG RELATED CRIME IN NORTHERN NEW YORK


With New Drug Czar Confirmed by Senate, Schumer, Gillibrand, McHugh Push for Additional Fed Resources to Disrupt & Dismantle Drug Trafficking in North Country

Addition of Four Northern Border Counties Will Help Law Enforcement to Battle Trafficking Statewide

To Help Law Enforcement Battle Drug Trafficking, Legislators Today Continued Push for Office of National Dru

U.S. Senators Charles E. Schumer, Kirsten Gillibrand and Representative John D. McHugh today continued their push to bring more federal resources to combat the drug smuggling networks in Clinton, Franklin, Jefferson and St. Lawrence counties. In support of the New York/New Jersey High Intensity Drug Trafficking Area (HIDTA) program's application that was sent last October to expand the designation to the four North Country counties, the legislators wrote letters to the newly confirmed Office of National Drug Control Policy (ONDCP) Director Gil Kerlikowske and Attorney General Eric Holder urging them to accept the application. 
 
“This has been a long, tough fight but I am confident that with a new Drug Czar and a new administration, we can finally cut through the red tape and get this application approved. Clinton, Franklin, Jefferson and St. Lawrence counties work around the clock to combat the drug smuggling pipeline that runs right through them but they can only do so much without these critical resources,” said Senator Schumer. “I was a huge proponent of adding Albany, Erie, Monroe, and Onondaga to the HIDTA in 2007, and we have already seen results.  Adding the four northern border counties will add to that progress.”   
 
“There is nothing more important than the security of our communities,” said Senator Gillibrand. “Getting drugs off our streets is a top priority. With the right leadership and priorities, I’m confident we can put the resources we need on the ground to keep Northern New York communities safe and drug-free. I will continue working with Senator Schumer and Congressman McHugh to make sure we have the tools and resources to keep our families safe."
 
“The HIDTA program is premised upon intelligence sharing and cooperation among federal, state, tribal, and local law enforcement agencies and I strongly urge Director Kerlikowske to incorporate Clinton, Franklin, Jefferson, and St. Lawrence counties into NY/NJ HIDTA. I will continue working with Senators Schumer and Gillibrand to help our local leaders and law enforcement be even more effective by working together to secure this designation,"said Congressman McHugh.
 
"We have already seen the benefits of the hard work of Senators Schumer and Gillibrand and Representative McHugh in expanding the HIDTA program,” said Chauncey Parker, Director of the NY/NJ HIDTA.  “We are extremely grateful to Senators Schumer and Gillibrand and Congressman McHugh for their tremendous support of the HIDTA program and of our efforts to enhance the timely and accurate sharing of drug intelligence throughout our region."
 
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 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.
 
The North Country's geographic attributes and transportation infrastructure create conditions conducive for drug smuggling.  Clinton, Franklin, Jefferson and St. Lawrence counties feature 16 points of entry to the United States, three of which are within the top ten most used points of entry on the United States northern border.  In addition, the counties are home to 17 airports, including international airports in Watertown, Plattsburgh, Ogdensburg, and Massena.  Three of the counties border the St. Lawrence River, which provides international shipping access to much of the United States via the Great Lakes St. Lawrence Seaway System.  And the Akwesasne Mohawk Nation straddles the United States/Canada border in Franklin County. 
 
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.  The addition of the Clinton, Franklin, Jefferson, and St. Lawrence Counties 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.
 
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, Senators Schumer and Gillibrand, and Congressman McHugh today sent letters to ONCDP Director Kerlikowske and Attorney General Eric Holder urging them to accept the New Jersey/New York HIDTA's application to expand the designation to four North Country counties – Clinton, Franklin, Jefferson and St. Lawrence.
The two letters are below:
 
 
May 11, 2009
 
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 be among the first to congratulate you on your recent confirmation to head the White House’s Office of National Drug Control Policy.  We are all very aware of your past success as Commissioner of the Police Department in Buffalo, and are certain that you will bring the same level of energy and dedication to your new position.  We were all proud to support your nomination, and we wish you the best.
 
We also write to express our strong support for an application submitted last October by the New York/New Jersey HIDTA, seeking expansion of the HIDTA to include New York’s four northern border counties – Clinton, Franklin, Jefferson, and St. Lawrence.  The application remains pending.
 
            It is without question that such an expansion of the HIDTA would be warranted.  The region’s geographic attributes and transportation infrastructure create conditions conducive for drug smuggling.  These four counties feature 16 points of entry to the United States, three of which are within the top ten most used points of entry on the United States northern border.  In addition, the counties are home to 17 airports, including international airports in Watertown, Plattsburgh, Ogdensburg, and Massena.  Three of the counties border the St. Lawrence River, which provides international shipping access to much of the United States via the Great Lakes St. Lawrence Seaway System.  In addition, the Akwesasne Mohawk Nation straddles the United States/Canada border in Franklin County. 
 
As described in the application, smugglers increasingly take advantage of the region’s transportation networks to move Canadian hydroponic marijuana into the United States through the four counties.  The marijuana is then transported downstate to Syracuse and Albany, where it is sold to drug traffickers, often from New York City, who further distribute it throughout the nation. 
 
            As you know, in 2007, the HIDTA was expanded to include the counties – Onondaga and Albany – in which Syracuse and Albany are located.  In addition, Erie and Monroe, two border counties, were added at that time.  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.  The addition of the Clinton, Franklin, Jefferson, and St. Lawrence Counties would play a critical role in reducing the flow of narcotics throughout New York, and into the rest of the United States – a goal on which we can all agree.
 
We admire all you have done for New York State, and believe there is no one better to take over the lead in the war on drugs.  We look forward to seeing these four counties added to the HIDTA, and to working together with you on future ONDCP endeavors.
 
 
May 11, 2009
 
The Honorable Eric H. Holder, Jr.
U.S. Department of Justice
950 Pennsylvania Avenue, NW
Washington, DC 20530-0001
 
 
Dear Attorney General Holder:
 
            We write in strong support of an application submitted last October by the New York/New Jersey High Intensity Drug Trafficking Area, seeking expansion of the HIDTA to include New York’s four northern border counties – Clinton, Franklin, Jefferson, and St. Lawrence.  We are aware that pursuant to 21 U.S.C. § 1706, the Attorney General is empowered to consult with the White House’s Director of the Office of National Drug Control Policy over whether the HIDTA designation should be extended to an area within the United States.  We therefore ask for your support and assistance in ensuring that the pending application is granted.
 
            It is without question that such an expansion of the HIDTA would be warranted.  The region’s geographic attributes and transportation infrastructure create conditions conducive for drug smuggling.  These four counties feature 16 points of entry to the United States, three of which are within the top ten most used points of entry on the United States northern border.  In addition, the counties are home to 17 airports, including international airports in Watertown, Plattsburgh, Ogdensburg, and Massena.  Three of the counties border the St. Lawrence River, which provides international shipping access to much of the United States via the Great Lakes St. Lawrence Seaway System.  In addition, the Akwesasne Mohawk Nation straddles the United States/Canada border in Franklin County. 
 
As described in the application, smugglers increasingly take advantage of the region’s transportation networks to move Canadian hydroponic marijuana into the United States through the four counties.  The marijuana is then transported downstate to Syracuse and Albany, where it is sold to drug traffickers, often from New York City, who further distribute it throughout the nation. 
 
            As you know, in 2007, the HIDTA was expanded to include the counties – Onondaga and Albany – in which Syracuse and Albany are located.  In addition, Erie and Monroe, two border counties, were added at that time.  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.  The addition of the Clinton, Franklin, Jefferson, and St. Lawrence Counties would play a critical role in reducing the flow of narcotics throughout New York, and into the rest of the United States – a goal on which we can all agree.
 
We greatly appreciate your assistance to New York State and your continued leadership of the Department of Justice.  We look forward to seeing these counties added to the HIDTA, and to working together with you on future criminal justice endeavors.

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