The Register-Herald, Beckley, West Virginia

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June 6, 2014

Rahall honored for his effort in war on drugs

National High Intensity Drug Trafficking Area DIrector's Association Legislator of the Year award

— For his efforts that helped police get the things they need to fight the war on drugs, Rep. Nick Rahall, D-W.Va., was presented the National High Intensity Drug Trafficking Area (HIDTA) Director’s Association Legislator of the Year award Thursday.

“The idea is to get law enforcement resources for drug and violent crime task forces,” U.S. Attorney Booth Goodwin said. “It’s resources like funding overtime for officers, new equipment, or money used to buy the drugs that make or break a case.

“That’s how we do a lot of our investigations. We go out, buy drugs from the dealers, make a case, then prosecute them.”

Goodwin said Rahall’s efforts have been amazing.

“It’s about getting the resources necessary to be effective against prescription drug abuse and getting the resources necessary against the emerging heroin problem that we’re seeing,” he said. “The resources necessary to keep our officers safe. That’s paramount to everyone.

“Another thing Congressman Rahall has always understood is that law enforcement has to be dynamic. The bad guys are always adapting and if we don’t adapt, then we’re guaranteed to fail. Congressman Rahall knows, for us to be dynamic, we need the resources and structure that HIDTA provides.”

The fifth and newest HIDTA task force is in Raleigh County, Goodwin said.

“Things are all ready to pop,” he said. “We’re already seeing the incredible effects of that task force. It’s truly an investment.  

“In order for a garden to thrive, we have to weed that garden. Law enforcement will continue to weed the bad element out of our communities. There is no more fertile ground for growth and prosperity than in West Virginia. When West Virginians have a problem, they come together and they solve it.”

Thomas Carr, director of the Washington-Baltimore HIDTA, presented the Legislator of the Year Award to Rahall.

“This award recognizes those in Congress who have taken extraordinary steps in support of the HIDTA program that works diligently to stem the tide of drug abuse,” Carr said. “For the past two years he has called for funding the HIDTA program. Last year, the program received its full funding due to his efforts.”

Carr also talked about some of the successes that HIDTA has had in getting drugs off the streets.

“In 2013, they disrupted or dismantled over 1,700 meth labs,” he said. “They seized over 1.5 million kilograms of processed marijuana and over 1.4 million kilograms of marijuana plants.

“They took 51,000 kilograms of powder and crack cocaine off our streets. They removed more than 3,100 kilograms of heroin. The wholesale value of these drugs was $14.8 billion in 2013.

“In addition, we seized  $777 million in cash and an additional $320 million in assets,” Carr added. “In the past five years, we have removed over $3.7 billion in cash profits from drug traffickers and either put it in the U.S. Treasury or shared it among local law enforcement agencies. We’re hitting them in their product and in their profits.”

Rahall said he appreciates such a distinguished reward.

“Believe you me, it’s received on behalf of law enforcement and the work they do,” he said. “They are the ones on the frontline.

“They know what it’s like to provide security for our people. Homeland security begins with law enforcement. They ensure our children and grandchildren can go to bed in a safe environment.”

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