SCHUMER: WAR ON HEROIN IS RAGING IN ULSTER COUNTY & FEDS MUST GET INVOLVED SENATOR LAUNCHES PUSH TO DESIGNATE COUNTY AS A HIDTA, WHICH WILL MEAN ADDITIONAL RESOURCES TO HELP DISRUPT DRUG-RELATED CRIMES & STAMP OUT HEROIN EPIDEMIC
Ulster County Has Experienced Explosion of Heroin Use & Drug-Related Crime Heroin Seizures Have Tripled Since 2007 and Drug-Related Arrests Are On Pace For 25% Increase This Year
Schumer Calls on Fed. Office of Drug Control to Designate Ulster a High Intensity Drug Trafficking Area, Which Will Provide Much-Needed Resources to Help Ulster Address Growing Heroin Problem
Schumer: We Must Provide Money & Intel To Help Ulster Battle Heroin Scourge
Today, at the Ulster County Law Enforcement Center in Kingston, U.S. Senator Charles E. Schumer urged the President's Office of National Drug Control Policy (ONDCP) to designate Ulster County a federal High Intensity Drug Trafficking Area (HIDTA), which will help Ulster County address a recent and disturbing uptick in heroin usage and drugrelated crime by improving coordination among federal, state and local law enforcement agencies, as well as providing equipment, technology and additional resources that the County needs to tackle this challenge. Schumer discussed various facts and figures that demonstrate how widespread the drug trafficking and abuse problem is in Ulster County, including the fact that heroin seizures in Ulster County have tripled since 2007, and drugrelated arrests are on pace to increase by over 25 percent this year compared to last. Schumer also referenced the 40 drugtrafficking arrests made in Ulster County in April as part of "Operation Spring Cleaning," during which police seized 1,000 bags of heroin as part of the sting, which is only 400 fewer bags than the Ulster County Sherriff's Office seized in 2011 and 2012. Schumer urged ONDCP to designate Ulster County as a HIDTA in order to curb this emerging threat.
"Heroin use, fatal overdoses, and drugrelated crime is again on the rise, and Ulster County in particular has seen a rise in heroin use that is alarming. That is why I am calling on the feds to designate Ulster County a High Intensity Drug Trafficking Area, which will provide technical expertise, more law enforcement personnel and the potential for more funding to combat heroin use and tackle this challenge headon," said Schumer. "More must be done to curtail the spike in heroin use and prevent more Ulster County residents from the bane of drug addiction and crime."
Schumer, joined by Ulster County Executive Mike Hein, Ulster County Sherriff P.J. Van Blarcum and Detective Lieutenant Ed Brewster from the Ulster Regional Gang Enforcement Narcotics Team (URGENT), called on the President's Office of National Drug Control Policy (ONDCP) to establish Ulster County as a High Intensity Drug Trafficking Area (HIDTA). The designation would prioritize funding and other resources for Ulster County, as well as promote greater coordination between local, state, and federal law enforcement personnel in the region.
"Ulster County, like the rest of the Hudson Valley area, has suffered from the recent increase in heroin usage," said Ulster County Executive Mike Hein. "I am grateful to Senator Schumer for taking the fight to Washington to obtain much needed law enforcement funding which will provide our Sheriff's Department and area law enforcement, which already do a phenomenal job on the front lines in the war against drugs, with additional resources. These federal resources will help preserve our communities, protect our children and defend our quality of life."
"I have always felt that HIDTA designation for Ulster County would make sense due to our obvious nexis with Orange and Dutchess counties as well as New York City," said P.J. Van Blarcum, Ulster County Sherriff. "The additional resources that HIDTA would bring would assist us greatly in curbing the heroin in our community. I would personally like to thank Senator Schumer for his foresight in pushing this initiative forward."
In support of these efforts, the HIDTA program will fund intelligencesharing initiatives, drug use prevention and drug treatment initiatives, and general support for programs that provide assistance to law enforcement beyond their normal scope of duty. 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 17 counties in New York that are part of the NY/NJ HIDTA, and Schumer wants Ulster County to be added. Each HIDTA assesses the drug trafficking threat in its defined area for the upcoming year, develops a strategy to address that threat, designs initiatives to implement the strategy, proposes funding needed to carry out the initiatives, and prepares an annual report describing its performance the previous year.
Schumer noted that the goal of the federal government's drug policy is to build safe and healthy communities, and a HIDTA designation for Ulster would help supplement the hard work already being done by Ulster County law enforcement. Schumer said that it is critical for Ulster law enforcement to have as many resources at their disposal as possible in the fight against heroin usage and trafficking.
In addition, Schumer referenced his recent request for an emergency $100 million surge of federal antidrug trafficking funding for the HIDTA Program in order to provide more resources to combat the drugs that are being trafficked from Mexico to New York City, and then to and areas of the Hudson Valley like Ulster County. Schumer's call followed a recent New York Times story that noted that the amount of heroin seized thus far in 2014 already surpasses heroin seizures in any year since 1991, as well as statistics that show 35 percent of heroin seized by the DEA since October 2013 occurred in New York State.
A copy of Senator Schumer's letter to the ONDCP appears below:
Dear Director Botticelli,
Thank you for your continuous efforts to combat drug abuse throughout the country. The Office of National Drug Control Policy (ONDCP) has been a vital partner to Congress as we work to curtail drug abuse across the nation. Since its creation in 1988, the High Intensity Drug Trafficking Areas (HIDTA) program ran by the ONDCP has been highly successful combating abusive outbreaks of a variety of dangerous drugs. Today, I write to ask for help from the HIDTA program. In my home state of New York, Ulster County is experiencing a public health crisis.
The use of heroin has skyrocketed over the past several years, and is harming citizens throughout the county. Heroin seizures in Ulster County have tripled since 2007, and drugrelated arrests are on pace to increase by over 25 percent this year compared to last. Unfortunately, drug addicts have turned to heroin as a cheaper, more accessible alternative than prescription drugs such as oxycodone. I ask that the ONDCP designate Ulster County as a HIDTA in order to help curb this emerging dilemma.
I understand that Ulster County will soon be submitting an application to become a HIDTAdesignated county, and I urge you to seriously consider their application. 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. In New York City, HIDTA's work in partnership with the NYPD 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, they are now working to share these ideas and approaches with areas all across the state, and HIDTA designated counties will be in the best position to use and embrace these ideas.
Again, thank you for your dedicated efforts to keep the citizens of New York and the United States healthy and safe and I look forward to hearing from you soon.
Charles E. Schumer