FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: November 22, 2011
SCHUMER ANNOUNCES NEW PLAN TO FIGHT SPREAD OF CRYSTAL METH THROUGHOUT CENTRAL NEW YORK
Today, at the Oswego County Building, U.S. Senator Charles E. Schumer announced a new effort to fight back against the growing scourge of crystal meth use and mobile production labs. Schumer’s call for more federal and private assistance to combat the meth problem comes after a series of lab busts over the last several weeks, including a mobile lab bust this past weekend. Standing with local law enforcement officials, Schumer called on the New York and New Jersey High Intensity Drug Trafficking Area (HIDTA) group and the Office of National Drug Control Policy (ONDCP) to add Oswego County to the list of counties eligible to receive additional federal assistance to fight back against meth production and consumption. Schumer also called on The Meth Project, a private national group that partners with individual states, to raise awareness of the dangers of crystal meth and partner with New York State to eradicate its use. A partnership could lead to public service announcements, private marketing campaigns, and community action programs that will increase the amount of information available to Central New Yorkers regarding the dangers of crystal meth.
“With the number of methamphetamine busts and arrests on the rise in Central New York, the time is now to crack down and to stop the dangerous spread of crystal meth in its tracks,” said Schumer. “This devastating drug can literally rip our families and communities apart – we can’t let that happen. It is clear that Oswego County and all of Central New York need additional federal and private assistance in fighting back against both production and consumption before this trend reaches epidemic proportions. That’s why I’m pushing for Oswego County to be designated as a High Intensity Drug Trafficking Area, making them eligible for specific drug trafficking programs and initiatives to reduce meth in the region. Also, I am urging The Meth Project, a private program successful in other states to add New York State as a partner in their large-scale prevention programs that focuses on education, public service messaging, public policy, and community outreach in their fight against meth.”
Schumer was joined by Oswego County Administrator Phil Church, Oswego County District Attorney Donald Dodd, Oswego County Sheriff Reuel Todd, City Police Captain Lizotte, Oswego Fire and HAZMAT Chief, Jeff McCrobie, firefighters and police officers as he announced his push to crack down on methamphetamine production and use in Central New York. Specifically, Schumer is urging the New York and New Jersey HIDTA group and the ONDCP to add Oswego County to the group of counties, eligible for additional resources in the fight against methamphetamine presence in the region. Just this week, Oswego police arrested four people in connection with this past Sunday’s mobile meth lab bust in Oswego. Police received a tip about illegal drug activity in a local parking lot, and pulled a vehicle over to find materials inside that are used in the production of methamphetamines. Schumer noted that this event was particularly disturbing due to the fact that a small child was in the car where this illegal and potentially combustible drug-making took place. Additional information led police to an apartment at 3 Mary Street, where they found more evidence of methamphetamine production.
Schumer noted two other incidents of meth consumption and production in Oswego County within two weeks in October 2011. The first occurred in Williamstown on October 3rd, where a man was found to have the necessary paraphernalia to produce meth in his single family home. In the second incidence on October 12th, a Mexico resident was found to have a small meth producing operation in her home. In light of such examples, Schumer noted the volatility of the ingredients and danger of meth-making, not only for those involved in the illegal activity, but also innocent children in the home and neighbors that live in close proximity to these labs. While neither incident was found to be an extremely large operation on its own, Schumer also noted that the repeated meth-related arrests suggest a large and dangerous trend in Central New York.
Under the Anti-Drug Abuse Act of 1988 and the ONDCP Reauthorization Act of 2006, the Director of the Office of National Drug Control Policy (ONDCP) is authorized to declare areas that exhibit serious drug trafficking problems as HIDTAs following the successful petition by groups of local law enforcement. HIDTA-designated counties comprise approximately 14 percent of U.S. counties, and exist in 45 states, Puerto Rico, the U.S. Virgin Islands and the District of Columbia. Schumer noted that Onondaga County is already designated as a HIDTA, and it is clear that Central New York as a whole needs more federal and private assistance to combat its meth problem. Based on recent events, Schumer is urging that Oswego County be added as an eligible county for this federal assistance, so that this disturbing and growing trend can be stopped in its tracks.
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, based in New York City, then allocates funding in order to fight drug trafficking most effectively.
Law enforcement organizations within HIDTAs assess drug trafficking problems and design specific initiatives to reduce or eliminate the production, manufacture, transportation, distribution and chronic use of illegal drugs and money laundering. Through a combination of joint initiatives and resource and information sharing, the HIDTA program helps improve the effectiveness of drug control efforts. In the coming weeks and months, Schumer will work with the New York and New Jersey HIDTA and the ONDCP in support of Oswego’s anticipated application to join the group.
Schumer is also pushing The Meth Project foundation to begin a “New York Meth Project” as they have done in numerous other states. The Meth Project was established in 2005 in response to the growing Meth epidemic in the U.S. The Meth Project partners with states and is a large-scale prevention program aimed at reducing Meth use through public service messaging, public policy, and community outreach. Central to the program is a research-based marketing campaign and community action programs designed to communicate the risks of Meth use. This privately funded program has already partnered with Georgia, Montana, Arizona, Colorado, Hawaii, Idaho, Illinois and Wyoming, and Schumer is asking The Meth Project to select New York as a new partner. Schumer’s request of The Meth Project to partner with New York comes as many communities in Central New York have seen serious incidence of methamphetamine use, including the operation of mobile methamphetamine labs in Oswego. Schumer applauds The Meth Project for its critical work in educating individuals and larger communities of the extreme physical dangers, as well as financial and social effects that methamphetamine can have on its users, and urges the Project to expand its work in New York.
If The Meth Project began to help tackle New York’s meth problem, the group would conduct survey research across the state to understand patterns of meth use, and attitudes and behaviors towards the drug. The research would draw on six years of experienced research in other states that has surveyed 50,000 individuals and 112 focus groups in consultation with research experts. The group would then launch an integrated campaign including messaging on all types of media including TV, newspapers, radio, online, mobile and social media campaigns that clearly highlight the dangers of meth use.
“This plan would be a one two punch to fight back against this glaring and growing problem,” continued Schumer. “If the last month is any indicator, we don’t have a moment to lose.”
A copy of Senator Schumer’s letter to The Meth Project’s Executive Director Jennifer Stagnaro appears below:
November 22, 2011
The Meth Project
Ms. Jennifer Stagnaro, Executive Director
270 University Avenue
Palo Alto, CA 94301
Dear Ms. Stagnaro:
I am writing to encourage The Meth Project to work with the State of New York and its citizens to help protect our communities from the scourge of methamphetamine manufacture, use, and abuse.
Some communities in Central New York have already felt the severe social, financial, and health effects of methamphetamine use. Just two days ago four individuals were arrested on suspicion of operating a mobile methamphetamine lab in Oswego, New York. The police department’s discovery was naturally accompanied by great community concern regarding the potential presence of addicts in their community as well as the dangers associated with proper disposal of hazardous materials.
The Meth Project’s renowned success at reducing the rates of methamphetamine use through greater education and awareness has had great success in Georgia, Montana and six other partner states. Therefore, I ask that the Meth Project partner with New York to bring its vast experience in public service announcements, private marketing campaigns, and community action programs to New York. This will hopefully increase the amount of information available to New Yorkers regarding the dangers of crystal meth.
With this new partnership, New Yorkers will be able to heal communities already touched by methamphetamine use while extinguishing this virulent epidemic before it spreads any further.
Thank you for your consideration of this important request. Please do not hesitate to contact me or my staff if I can be of any assistance.
Charles E. Schumer
United States Senator