Schumer Calls For Federal Help In Heroin Fight

Today, U.S. Senator Charles E. Schumer urged the President’s Office of National Drug Control Policy to designate Chautauqua County a federal High Intensity Drug Trafficking Area, which will help Chautauqua County address a recent and disturbing uptick in heroin usage and drug-related 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 noted that, in the city of Jamestown, heroin-related arrests have tripled over the last three years, and in 2013 heroin use was linked to more deaths in the area than any other drug. In addition, Jamestown Police Department estimates 90 percent of crime in the city is drug related. Schumer also noted that a major drug trafficking group — the Angueira Drug Ring — was busted in 2011, after a three-year investigation, and found to have been moving more than a half a kilogram of heroin per week through Chautauqua County to a number of states in the northeast. Schumer is asking ONDCP to designate Chautauqua County as a HIDTA in order to curb this emerging threat.

“Heroin use, fatal overdoses, and drug-related crime is again on the rise, and Chautauqua County in particular has seen a rise in heroin use that is alarming. That is why I am calling on the feds to designate Chautauqua 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 head-on,” said Schumer. “More must be done to curtail the spike in heroin use and prevent more Chautauqua County residents from the bane of drug addiction.”

“The Chautauqua County Sheriff’s Office works day and night to keep the residents of this community safe, but in recent years the volume of drugs moving through our community has continued to increase. We have applied to become a federally designated High Intensity Drug Trafficking Area so that we can access vital intelligence and information from other regions and potentially additional federal funding to fight drug trafficking in our community. Senator Schumer’s support of this effort is critical, and we greatly appreciate his efforts on behalf of all Law Enforcement in Western New York” said Chautauqua County Sheriff Joe Gerace.

Schumer called on the President’s Office of National Drug Control Policy to establish Chautauqua County as a High Intensity Drug Trafficking Area. The designation would prioritize funding and other resources for Chautauqua County, as well as promote greater coordination between local, state, and federal law enforcement personnel in the region. In support of these efforts, the HIDTA program will fund intelligence-sharing 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. There are currently 28 HIDTAs, which include approximately 16 percent of all counties in the United States and 60 percent of the U.S. population. 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 Chautauqua would help supplement the hard work already being done by Chautauqua County law enforcement. Schumer said that it is critical for Chautauqua law enforcement to have as many resources at their disposal as possible in the fight against heroin usage and trafficking.