The Register-Herald, Beckley, West Virginia

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November 14, 2013

Wyoming County given high drug trafficking designation

Wyoming County will now be included in the Appalachia High Intensity Drug Trafficking Area (HIDTA), which will enable the county to receive additional federal resources to help further drug control efforts.

“The added federal muscle that this new HIDTA designation brings to Wyoming County, and which I pressed hard to secure, will help our state and local law enforcement authorities in their tireless fight against drug abuse,” Congressman Nick Rahall said.

He said the crime that accompanies drug trafficking and abuse requires a coordinated response across all levels of government.

“I am working hard to ensure our state’s law enforcement officials have access to the resources and training and information that they need to help them protect our communities.”

Rahall has been meeting with members of HIDTA, as well as the Director the Office of National Drug Control Policy (ONDCP), who visited southern West Virginia earlier this year at Rahall’s request, about the drug abuse and trafficking problems in the region and to advocate the expansion of the Appalachia HIDTA to bring more resources into the state.

The new HIDTA designation will increase access to federal resources and information sharing in southern West Virginia.

Law enforcement organizations within HIDTAs assess drug-trafficking problems and design specific initiatives to decrease the production, manufacture, transportation, distribution, and chronic use of drugs and money laundering.

“The West Virginia State Police has a great partnership with Appalachia HIDTA, which provides invaluable resources to our fight against the illegal distribution of drugs in our state,” said State Police Maj. T.D. Bradley, Chief of Field Services.

“With the ever-growing plague of prescription pill diversion, this designation could not come at a better time. We are very grateful to Congressman Rahall, who has worked tirelessly with ONDCP to get this designation which provides resources to our state.”

Rahall said a multi-prong strategy is needed in “waging a successful battle against the epidemic,” which includes increasing law enforcement and substance abuse education and treatment.

“I intend to keep pushing hard on all fronts to ensure that our communities have every resource available in our fight to protect our homes and businesses from the harmful consequences of drug abuse and trafficking,” Rahall said.

West Virginia State Police Sgt. M.S. Godfrey, with the Jesse detachment, said any additional resources the county can receive will be highly beneficial.

“I cannot say what specific measures that this might bring about to assist us in fighting the war on drugs and trying to at least curtail illegal drug usage here in Wyoming County, but any additional resources that we might have at our disposal or might be able to utilize to assist us in reducing the illegal drug usage here will of course be highly beneficial to the citizens of Wyoming County and to the citizens of southern West Virginia.”

Godfrey said not all crime activities in Wyoming County are able to be directly tied to the drug trade, but many crimes, from petty theft all the way to murder, are suspected of being linked to drugs.

“The war on drugs will always be there. It’s not something we can win, but it’s something we will continue to fight on a daily basis,” he added.

With Wyoming County, the Appalachia HIDTA includes 15 West Virginia counties: Boone, Brooke, Cabell, Hancock, Kanawha, Lincoln, Logan, Marshall, Mason, McDowell, Mercer, Mingo, Ohio, Putnam, and Wayne counties.

— E-mail: wholdren@register-herald.com

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