SHAHEEN: FEDERAL RESOURCES NECESSARY TO COMBAT HEROIN AND PRESCRIPTION DRUG ADDICTION IN NEW HAMPSHIRE

In letter to Office of National Drug Control Policy, Shaheen supports HIDTA classification for Rockingham County

June 13, 2014

(Washington, DC) – U.S. Senator Jeanne Shaheen (D-NH) today called on Michael Botticelli, Director of the Office of National Drug Control Policy, to support the request to designate and include Rockingham County in the New England High-Intensity Drug Trafficking Area (HIDTA). In a letter to the Office of National Drug Control Policy, Shaheen added her support to the HIDTA designation request for Rockingham County in New Hampshire made by the Rockingham County Sheriff’s Office, County Chiefs of Police Association and United States Attorney for New Hampshire and Drug Enforcement Administration. The HIDTA designation would provide law enforcement with additional resources to fight heroin trafficking and other illegal drugs as well as promote increased cooperation among local, state and federal officials.

“In recent years, the threat and danger posed by opiates, primarily heroin and prescription drugs, has drastically increased according to both law enforcement and public health officials who note that regional treatment admission rates for the abuse of these drugs is among the highest in the country,” Shaheen wrote in the letter. “While Rockingham County law enforcement officers are committed to developing an effective response to the growing epidemic, federal resources are necessary to combat this crisis.”

According to New Hampshire Department of Health and Human Services (NHDHHS), the number of people admitted to state treatment programs increased 90 percent for heroin use and 500 percent for prescription drug use over the last 10 years, with the largest increases occurring in just the last two years.

Shaheen has been working with local, state and federal officials as well as law enforcement and public health experts to collaborate on ways to address the growing heroin and prescription drug problem in New Hampshire which has reached epidemic proportions. Last month, Shaheen hosted Director Botticelli for a roundtable in Franklin and earlier this year hosted roundtables in Derry and Salem to discuss how the federal government can work with local law enforcement and public health officials to address the problem. As a result of the roundtables, Shaheen included several provisions in the Commerce-Justice-Science Fiscal Year 2015 Appropriations bill to support a comprehensive response to combat the heroin and prescription drug addiction problem in the state.

The full text of Senator Shaheen’s letter is included below:

June 13, 2014

Michael Botticelli

Director

Office of National Drug Control Policy

1600 Pennsylvania Avenue NW

Washington, D.C. 20500

Dear Director Botticelli:

I write to express my support for the designation and inclusion of Rockingham County, NH in the New England High Intensity Drug Trafficking Area (HIDTA). The Rockingham County Sheriff’s Office, County Attorney’s Office and County Chiefs of Police Association, along with the United States Attorney for New Hampshire and Drug Enforcement Administration deployed in New Hampshire have submitted a petition requesting the aforementioned designation as an HIDTA.

Rockingham County has a population of 295,223 and encompasses 794 square miles.  Interstate 95 and Interstate 93 both run through the county and serve as pipelines to send drugs from Southern New England to the Northern Border states and distribute currency procured through the sale of narcotics.  In recent years, the threat and danger posed by opiates, primarily heroin and prescription drugs, has drastically increased according to both law enforcement and public health officials, who note that regional treatment admission rates for the abuse of these drugs is among the highest in the country.  While Rockingham County law enforcement officers are committed to developing an effective response to the growing epidemic, federal resources are necessary to combat this crisis.

The HIDTA designation and related support from the ONDCP would enable increased cooperation among local, state, and federal officials to combat the sale and use of heroin and other illegal drugs.  In particular, under HIDTA Rockingham County would be better positioned to conduct coordinated interdictions along the state’s border with Massachusetts and investigators would have the tools and resources they need to identify and attack the vulnerabilities in the supply, transportation systems, and financial infrastructure of major drug trafficking organizations, including Mexican cartels, known to be operating in the region. 

I support the inclusion of Rockingham County in the New England HIDTA and urge you to grant the petition for designation submitted by law enforcement organizations in the county.  Thank you for your consideration of this matter.

Sincerely,

Jeanne Shaheen

United States Senate