MONTICELLO—U.S. Senator Chuck Schumer returned once more to Monticello to push for the county to be designated as a High-Intensity Drug Trafficking Area (HIDTA) in order to provide additional …
MONTICELLO—U.S. Senator Chuck Schumer returned once more to Monticello to push for the county to be designated as a High-Intensity Drug Trafficking Area (HIDTA) in order to provide additional resources to the Sullivan County Drug Task Force in its fight against the opioid epidemic.
Senator Schumer was in Monticello last year to bring awareness; however, the application submitted to the U.S. government was denied due to technical difficulties.
“They basically said [Sullivan County] didn’t show a nexus between Sullivan County and other counties,” Schumer told the Democrat.
Schumer added that decision was “absurd,” adding, “look at all the fentanyl deaths. The fentanyl didn’t come from Sullivan County. We’re going to strive to straighten that out.”
Schumer said Sullivan County has the highest opioid-related death rate per capita outside New York City.
“Yet, Sullivan County is the only county in the Hudson Valley that’s not a federally designated High-Intensity Drug Trafficking Area. That’s an anomaly. How could you have the highest rate and not be designated? I would call it bureaucracy,” said Schumer.
Schumer met with local law enforcement, public officials, and law enforcement from New York City at the Sullivan County District’s Attorney’s office in Monticello.
There, Schumer held a press conference vowing to help Sullivan County submit a new application, which is due on March 31, to the federal government.
Schumer was joined at the podium by Chauncey Parker, Director at New York/New Jersey HIDTA, Sullivan County Acting District Attorney Brian Conaty, NYS Assemblywoman Aileen Gunther, and Sullivan County Sheriff Michael Schiff.
“Today, we put our heads together on how to get the best application possible and send it on March 31. And then I’m going to do everything I can to see that it’s approved; I’m not going to let them have an excuse,” said Schumer.
Parker added, “We’re going to do everything we can and at your urging and following your leadership to get this application into the endzone.”
Conaty added, “We are a rural community, and our statistics are quite staggering in terms of the opioid epidemic.”
Gunther remarked on the significance of having the designation in order to receive the necessary federal funding to “continue to make sure that we’re keeping our residents safe.”
Schiff added how critical it is to get this designation because it’s “important to the health and welfare of our county during this drug scourge and the fentanyl epidemic.”
What is HIDTA?
The program, High-Intensity Drug Trafficking Areas, was created by Congress with the Anti-Drug Abuse Act of 1988 and “provides assistance to Federal, state, local, and tribal law enforcement agencies operating in areas determined to be critical drug-trafficking regions of the United States,” according to its website.
The website also states that the grant program is administered by the Office of National Drug Control Policy, and currently, there are 33 HIDTAs, and HIDTA-designated counties are located in 50 states and Puerto Rico along with the U.S. Virgin Islands and the District of Columbia.
In 2021 HIDTA’s annual budget was $290 million.
To be considered part of the HIDTA program, the area must have a “significant center of illegal drug production, manufacturing, importation, or distribution.”
The local law enforcement agencies must have committed resources to respond to the drug trafficking problem in the area, showing an aggressive response.
Furthermore, the drug activity must have had a “significant harmful impact on the area and show how a “significant increase in allocation of Federal resources is necessary to respond adequately to drug-related activities in the area.”
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