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3 NKY Counties Added to Ohio High Intensity Drug Trafficking Area

Three Northern Kentucky counties have been added to the Ohio High Intensity Drug Trafficking Area (HIDTA).

Senator Mitch McConnell announced Thursday that the Office of National Drug Control Policy director Michael Botticelli informed him that because of the magnitude of drug threats in Boone, Campbell, and Kenton Counties, they are now included in the HIDTA.

McConnell and Botticelli have made joint visits to Northern Kentucky areas and earlier this year, the Senate Majority Leader contacted Botticelli to consider the designation for the three counties, according to a news release.

“This is important news for these counties and I was honored to work with local officials to help make this happen, and I appreciate Director Botticelli for including these counties in the federal program,” McConnell said in a statement. “A HIDTA designation allows us to efficiently leverage federal resources along with those of state and local partners to directly benefit particularly hard-hit counties, such as those in Northern Kentucky.  Given its geographic proximity to Boone, Campbell and Kenton Counties and what I am told about the flow of illicit drugs into the region from Ohio, designation under Ohio HIDTA is a sensible and substantial step to combatting the production, distribution and trafficking of illicit substances in the Commonwealth. Northern Kentucky law enforcement officials are working overtime to combat drug trafficking in the region. The number of deaths and drug overdoses in Kentucky are alarming, and law enforcement needs every tool imaginable to reverse the trends, change lives and beat back the devastation wrought by substance abuse.”

“On behalf of the Northern Kentucky Drug Strike Force, I would like to thank Senator McConnell for his guidance and advocacy in helping secure these designations. Northern Kentucky has been especially hard hit by the current opioid epidemic. Inclusion into Ohio HIDTA will enhance intelligence sharing, improve joint investigative efforts, and provide training and badly needed resources to address the current problems we face,” said Chris Conners, Director of the Northern Kentucky Drug Strike Force.

“The official news that the Northern KY Counties of Boone, Kenton and Campbell will be included as a HIDTA Designation is exceptionally good news for the Northern Kentucky Region and Law Enforcement across the board. This has been a high priority for me in bringing additional support for law enforcement in reducing the supply of illegal drugs and getting traffickers out of our communities. There are many community partners to thank in getting this accomplished, but NKY Drug Strike Force Director Chris Conners and Senator McConnell’s office have been a pleasure to work with on this initiative,” said Kim Moser, Executive Director NKY Office of Drug Control Policy.

“The HIDTA designation will provide critical resources in our region’s fight against drug trafficking as we continue to utilize every possible asset to combat the Opioid/Heroin epidemic facing our communities. In addition to his leadership shepherding the vital CARA legislation to enactment, Senator McConnell's work in helping us receive HIDTA designation is great news as we continue our fight to win this battle,” said Gary Moore, Boone County Judge/Executive.

“One of the first steps of the NKY Office of Drug Control Policy was to reach out to all local police and law enforcement to offer assistance in bringing a HIDTA designation to our community. This resource will enable our law enforcement to better focus efforts on eradication of heroin and other harmful drugs in our region,” said Steve Pendery, Campbell County Judge/Executive.

“The HIDTA designation is an important step in accessing valuable resources that law enforcement and our community will utilize in its current struggle against illegal drugs and substance abuse,” said Kris Knochelmann, Kenton County Judge/Executive.

In April of 2015, Director Botticelli accompanied Senator McConnell to Kentucky to see the effects of drug abuse on Kentuckians. That same year, Senator McConnell also introduced and the Senate passed a bill to help the youngest victims of drug abuse: the babies who are born dependent on opioids and suffering from withdrawal. The Protecting Our Infants Act helps address Kentucky’s opioid epidemic by directing the Secretary of HHS to work with stakeholders to develop recommendations to address the rise in prenatal opioid addiction and treating infants born dependent on opioids. It also encourages the director of the CDC to work with states and help improve their public health response to this crisis. The bill was signed into law in November.

-Staff report