Attorney General Sessions and Acting DEA Administrator Patterson Announce New Tools to Address Opioid Crisis
Continuing to follow President Trump’s strong leadership on combatting the deadly opioid crisis, Attorney General Sessions recently announced new resources and stepped up efforts to address the drug and opioid crisis.
Joined by Acting DEA Administrator Robert Patterson, Attorney General Sessions announced the following efforts during a press conference at the Department of Justice: over $12 million in grant funding to assist law enforcement in combating illegal manufacturing and distribution of methamphetamine, heroin, and prescription opioids; the establishment of a new DEA Field Division in Louisville, Kentucky, which will include Kentucky, Tennessee, and West Virginia, a move meant to better align DEA enforcement efforts within the Appalachian mountain region; and a directive to all U.S. Attorneys to designate an Opioid Coordinator to work closely with prosecutors, and with other federal, state, tribal, and local law enforcement to coordinate and optimize federal opioid prosecutions in every district.
“Today we are facing the worst drug crisis in American history, with one American dying of a drug overdose every nine minutes,” said Attorney General Jeff Sessions. “That’s why, under President Trump’s strong leadership, the Department of Justice has been taking action to make our drug law enforcement efforts more effective. Today we announce three new initiatives to do just that. First, we will invest $12 million in funding for our state and local law enforcement partners to take heroin and methamphetamine off of our streets. Second, we will restructure DEA's Field Divisions for the first time in nearly 20 years. Third, we will require all of our federal prosecutors' offices to designate an Opioid Coordinator who will customize our anti-opioid strategy in every district in America. These steps will make our law enforcement efforts smarter and more effective—and ultimately they will save American lives."
“DEA continually looks for ways to improve operations and interagency cooperation and more efficiently leverage resources,” said Acting DEA Administrator Robert W. Patterson. “By creating a new division in the region, this restructuring places DEA in lockstep with our partners in the area to do just that. This change will produce more effective investigations on heroin, fentanyl, and prescription opioid trafficking, all of which have a significant impact on the region.”
COPS Anti-Heroin Task Force Grants and Anti-Meth Program
The Community Oriented Policing Services (COPS) Office is awarding a total of $7.19 million in FY 2017 funding through the Anti-Heroin Task Force Program (AHTF). AHTF provides two years of funding directly to law enforcement agencies in states with high per capita levels of primary treatment admissions for heroin and other opioids. This funding will support the location or investigation of illicit activities related to the distribution of heroin or the unlawful distribution of prescription opioids.
The COPS Office will also award a total of $5.03 million in FY 2017 funding through the COPS Anti-Methamphetamine Program (CAMP). The state agencies receiving funding today have demonstrated numerous seizures of precursor chemicals, finished methamphetamine, laboratories, and laboratory dump seizures. State agencies will be awarded two years of funding through CAMP to support the investigation of illicit activities related to the manufacture and distribution of methamphetamine.
The complete list of Anti-Heroin Task Force Program (AHTF) award recipients, including funding amounts, can be found here.
The complete list of COPS Anti-Methamphetamine Program (CAMP) award recipients, including funding amounts, can be found here.
Establishment of DEA Louisville Field Division
The DEA will establish the Louisville Field Division – its 22nd division office in the United States – on Jan. 1, 2018. It will include Kentucky, Tennessee, and West Virginia. This action converts the existing Louisville District Office into a field division in an effort to enhance DEA enforcement efforts within the Appalachian mountain region and unify drug trafficking investigations under a single Special Agent in Charge. DEA anticipates that this change will produce more effective investigations on heroin, fentanyl and prescription opioid trafficking, all of which have a significant impact on the region. The division will also better align DEA with the U.S. Attorney’s Office districts in those areas, similar to current ATF and FBI offices, and also to the Appalachia High Intensity Drug Trafficking Areas (HIDTA) Program.
The Louisville Division will be led by Special Agent in Charge D. Christopher Evans, who comes from the Detroit Field Division where he served as Associate Special Agent in Charge.
Designation of Opioid Coordinators
Every U.S. Attorney will designate an Opioid Coordinator by the close of business on Dec. 15, 2017. Each USAO Opioid Coordinator will be responsible for facilitating intake of cases involving prescription opioids, heroin, and fentanyl; convening a task force of federal, state, local, and tribal law enforcement to identify opioid cases for federal prosecution, facilitate interdiction efforts, and tailor their district’s response to the needs of the community it serves; providing legal advice and training to AUSAs regarding the prosecution of opioid offenses; maintaining statistics on the opioid prosecutions in the district; and developing and continually evaluating the effectiveness of the office’s strategy to combat the opioid epidemic.
The Attorney General’s memo to United States Attorneys can be viewed here.