September 29, 2014

Manchin Applauds Additional Law Enforcement Resources to Fight Drug Trafficking and Abuse in West Virginia

At Manchin’s urging, Berkeley County and Harrison County have been designated as critical drug-trafficking regions

Washington, D.C. – At the strong urging of U.S. Senator Joe Manchin (D-W.Va.), the Office of National Drug Control Policy (ONDCP) announced today that both Berkeley County and Harrison County have been designated as High Intensity Drug Trafficking Areas (HIDTA).  These counties will receive additional federal resources to address the influx of drugs and reduce drug abuse.

Berkeley and Harrison will join the 17 counties in West Virginia that are currently designated as HIDTAs: Boone, Brooke, Cabell, Hancock, Kanawha, Lincoln, Logan, Marshall, Mason, McDowell, Mercer, Mingo, Ohio, Putnam, Raleigh, Wayne and Wyoming.

“The health and safety of our families and communities in West Virginia depend on ending the drug abuse epidemic,” Senator Manchin said. “Not only must we continue to combat our destructive prescription drug problem, but we also must face the growing number of meth labs, heroin overdoses and drug trafficking cases. I will continue to do everything in my power to aggressively curb these trends in our state, and that includes making sure our law enforcement officers in high risk communities have the necessary federal resources to address drug trafficking and abuse. I have every assurance that our local law enforcement officials who are on the frontlines of this fight in Berkeley and Harrison will put these resources to good use.”

In urging the ONDCP to designate Berkeley County and Harrison County as HIDTAs, Senator Manchin cited the state’s high drug overdose rate, improper prescribing practices and increased access to heroin. Berkeley County had the highest number of heroin overdose deaths in the state, resulting in 36 deaths between 2007 and 2012. Harrison County’s overdose death rate is 21.3 deaths per 100,000 people, which far exceeds the national average of 13 deaths per 100,000 people.

Senator Manchin also emphasized the geographical location of these counties in his request for additional HIDTA resources. He noted that heroin dealers from Baltimore feel comfortable dealing in our Eastern Panhandle counties, and dealers from Columbus, Detroit and Pittsburgh view North Central, West Virginia as an opportunity to exploit the people of our great state. Senator Manchin believes that our drug task forces need HITDA funds in order to address the influx of drugs from these surrounding metropolitan areas.

The HIDTA program currently funds 681 initiatives nationwide, in the areas of enforcement and prosecution, intelligence and information sharing, and drug use prevention and treatment. There are 28 regional HIDTAs coordinating these efforts. Berkeley County is part of the Washington/Baltimore HIDTA and Harrison County falls within the Appalachian HIDTA office.