SCHUMER: AT LONG LAST AND AFTER PERSONAL PUSH, ONEIDA COUNTY WILL RECEIVE CRITICAL HIGH INTENSITY DRUG TRAFFICKING DESIGNATION FROM FEDS; MOVE REPEATEDLY PUSHED BY SCHUMER WILL SEND NEW FED RESOURCES TO MOHAWK VALLEY & HELP LOCALS FIGHT OPIOIDS AND DISRUPT TRAFFICKING
Schumer Successfully Called on Fed Office of Drug Control to Designate Oneida County A “High Intensity Drug Trafficking Area,” Which Will Provide Much-Needed Resources to Help County Address Growing Drug Problem; HIDTA Program Helps Law Enforcement Effectively Fight Drug Trafficking & Collaborate with the Health Community on Important Treatment Initiatives
Oneida County Has Seen A Surge Of Heroin and Opioid Use & Drug-Related Crime—Between 2010 and 2016, Drug Arrests Have Increased By 26%
Schumer: This Designation Will Bring Resources, Expertise & Intel To Help Oneida Battle Heroin and Opioid Scourge
U.S. Senate Minority Leader Charles E. Schumer today announced that the Office of National Drug Control Policy (ONDCP) has designated Oneida County as a High Intensity Drug Trafficking Area (HIDTA). Schumer said this designation will help Oneida County address the recent and disturbing uptick in opioid and heroin usage, along with other drug-related crime, by improving coordination among federal, state, and local law enforcement agencies, as well as providing equipment, technology and additional resources to tackle this challenge. In May, Schumer called on the ONDCP to approve Oneida’s application and urged the administration to reverse its proposed cuts to the Office of National Drug Control Policy and the HIDTA program. Schumer said New York State is home to 24 HIDTAs, with Oneida County now becoming the 25th. He added that each HIDTA is essential to efforts combating heroin and other drug trafficking throughout Upstate New York.
“For too long, heroin use, fatal overdoses, and drug-related crimes have been on the rise, plaguing Upstate New York communities like those in here in the Mohawk Valley. Oneida County law enforcement agencies deserve every federal resource possible to combat the growing scourge of drug trafficking, and that is why I went to bat for the county and called on the feds to designate it a ‘High Intensity Drug Trafficking Area,’” said Senator Schumer. “This new designation will provide technical expertise, tighter coordination with federal and regional law enforcement operations, more law enforcement personnel, and the additional resources needed to combat heroin use and tackle this challenge head-on.”
Schumer added, “I have worked long and hard – at the request of many local Upstate mayors and police departments – to extend their participation in High Intensity Drug Trafficking Area programs. They help local communities coordinate with federal entities to fight the opioid and heroin drug scourge. Places like Oneida County need this program and I am pleased the feds finally heeded my calls and approved this vital designation.”
The HIDTA program helps counties address recent and disturbing upticks in heroin usage and drug-related crime by improving coordination among federal and local law enforcement agencies, as well as by providing equipment, technology and additional resources to tackle this challenge. The HIDTA program funds intelligence-sharing initiatives, drug use prevention and drug treatment initiatives, as well as support for programs that provide additional assistance to law enforcement to do in-depth investigation into drug overdoses and crimes. Oneida County Sheriff, District Attorney and the Rome and Utica Police Departments are among the law enforcement agencies that will benefit from these enhanced resources.
Schumer stated that in Oneida County, the drug epidemic has become especially troublesome, with increased reports of both fatal opioid-involved overdoses and drug trafficking operations. Drug trafficking and overdoses have been on the rise in the Mohawk Valley, with drug arrests increasing 26 percent from 2010 to 2016 and heroin arrests accounting for nearly 28 percent of all drug arrests during that time. This increased drug trafficking has had devastating consequences for Oneida County’s residents and its emergency services— with 38 opioid overdose deaths and over 200 opioid-related emergency room and hospital visits in 2016 alone. Schumer said the HIDTA designation will help address the growing threat of drug trafficking. Specifically, the new designation would enable Oneida County to expand its drug intelligence network and to provide additional coverage. It would also allow them to fill a full time crime analyst position that would allow local law enforcement to analyze regional drug trafficking trends and to identify where targeted efforts would have the most impact.
Schumer explained Oneida County is located between all of the major distribution hubs within New York State. Utica especially operates as a regional distribution hub as drug traffickers move from eastern distribution centers to western distribution centers. Also due to Oneida County’s proximity to New York City, a large amount of illegal drugs flow through the county to the rest of Upstate New York and into New England. Heroin originating from New York City and Philadelphia has been identified by law enforcement in many areas throughout Upstate New York.
Today’s announcement comes on the heels of Schumer’s May 2017 letter to ONDCP calling for them to approve Oneida’s application. Additionally, Schumer visited Utica in February 2015 to launch a push for the feds to designate Oneida as a HIDTA. Schumer has long championed the effort to expand the HIDTA program throughout Upstate New York, having advocated for numerous existing HIDTAs through the long federal application process. In the recently passed federal spending bill, Schumer helped secure a $4 million increase to the High Intensity Drug Trafficking Area (HIDTA) Program, which brought the entire pot to $254 million.
The New York/New Jersey HIDTA is one of 28 HIDTAs nationwide, which include approximately 16 percent of all counties in the United States and 60 percent of the U.S. population. There are currently 24 counties in New York that are part of the NY/NJ HIDTA. HIDTA Drug Intelligence Officers in each area are constantly gathering and sharing information to assess drug trafficking patterns, and develop strategies to address the unique needs of each area.
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 if local law enforcement groups petition for the designation. Many in Upstate New York are already HIDTA-designated counties, meaning that they receive federal resources to combat drug trafficking and sales. The purpose of HIDTA is to reduce drug trafficking and production in the United States. The program’s goal is to facilitate cooperation among federal, state, and local law enforcement agencies; to share information and implement coordinated enforcement activities; to enhance intelligence sharing among law enforcement agencies as well as public health officials; to facilitate the design of effective enforcement strategies; and to support coordinated law enforcement strategies that make the most of available resources to reduce the supply of illegal drugs in the U.S.
A copy of Senator Schumer’s original letter to the ONDCP appears below:
Dear Acting Director Baum,
The Office of National Drug Control Policy (ONDCP) has been a vital partner to Congress as we work to curtail the uptick of prescription drug and heroin abuse across the nation. Since its creation in 1988, the High Intensity Drug Trafficking Areas (HIDTA) program ran by the ONDCP has been particularly successful in strengthening local efforts to confront the epidemic and reduce the supply of illicit drugs. Today, I write to express my strong support for the inclusion of Oneida County into the HIDTA program.
Over the past several years, we have seen the rise in heroin and illicit drug use plague countless communities across the country, including those in Upstate, New York. In recent years, Oneida County has seen significant increases in the trafficking of narcotics, specifically heroin and synthetic fentanyl. Unfortunately, drug addicts have turned to these dangerous opioids as a cheaper, more accessible alternative than prescription drugs, such as oxycodone. In fact, in 2016 there were 38 deaths in Oneida County resulting from opioid overdoses. In addition, Oneida County saw 538 adult misdemeanor drug arrests and 310 adult felony drug arrests in 2016, an increase of 26% from 2010. In response to this outbreak, Oneida County has created a regional drug enforcement unit in an effort to strengthen their ability to combat narcotics trafficking in the region.
Despite these efforts, Oneida County cannot combat this crisis alone. In order to eradicate the production and flow of drugs into the community, Oneida needs the additional federal resources and intelligence-sharing that is only available through a HIDTA designation. As such, I ask that the ONDCP designate Oneida County as a HIDTA in order to help curb this emerging dilemma. The NY/NJ HIDTA has been essential to areas of New York that have been ravaged by heroin and opioid abuse, acting as a powerful resource for counties that are looking for new innovative ways to prevent drug abuse. The additional resources and expertise the program brings to local communities are essential in our fight against drug abuse. In New York City, HIDTA’s work in partnership with New York City Department of Health, the New York Police Department, the Drug Enforcement Administration, and other partners, has helped grow and develop the RxStat program, which has become a model for the country in how to use overdose data and other technological resources. With HIDTA’s support and guidance, NYC has worked to share these ideas and approaches with areas all across the state, and HIDTA-designated counties are in the best position to use and embrace these ideas.
Again, thank you for your dedicated efforts to keeping the citizens of New York and the United States healthy and safe. I look forward to hearing from you.
Charles E. Schumer
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