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News in the HIDTA Community

CAPITO VOWS TO FIGHT ANY CUTS TO NATIONAL DRUG PROGRAM

Urges OMB Director Mulvaney to reconsider drastic cuts to office of drug policy, community prevention efforts

WASHINGTON, D.C. – In a letter to OMB Director Mick Mulvaney, U.S. Senator Shelley Moore Capito (R-W.Va.) is urging the Trump Administration to reconsider any funding cuts to the Office of National Drug Control Policy (ONDCP) as the nation grapples with a serious opioid epidemic. She called on Director Mulvaney to instead propose a realistic budget that demonstrates the administration's commitment to combatting drug addiction.

"If cuts to the ONDCP, including the High Intensity Drug Trafficking Areas and Drug Free Communities programs, are proposed in the Administration's Fiscal Year 2018 Budget then I will lead a bipartisan group of my colleagues on the Appropriations Committee and in the Senate to reject those proposed cuts," said Senator Capito, chair of the Senate Appropriations Subcommittee on Financial Services and General Government.

Senator Capito has worked with ONDCP, including its HIDTA and Drug Free Communities programs, to reduce drug use and overdose deaths, and to ensure that local communities have the resources they need to take on the drug challenge.

Read the full letter here and below.

Dear Director Mulvaney:

As chairman of the Senate Appropriations Subcommittee on Financial Services and General Government (FSGG) that has jurisdiction over the Office of National Drug Control Policy (ONDCP), I am writing to express my serious concern with recent press reports that the Administration intends to recommend a 95 percent cut to the ONDCP in the fiscal year 2018 budget proposal. The cuts would reportedly eliminate funding for the High Intensity Drug Trafficking Area (HIDTA) and Drug Free Communities programs.

Our nation is in the grips of an opioid epidemic that according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) is claiming 91 lives per day. The CDC found that in 2015 my state of West Virginia had the highest opioid overdose death rate in the nation. Given the national scale of this drug epidemic, the ONDCP's role in coordinating federal efforts to help combat drug abuse and addiction has never been more important.

Twenty West Virginia counties are part of the HIDTA program that provides important resources to law enforcement. The HIDTA program brings together local police, state officials, and federal agencies to facilitate a regional approach to combatting drug trafficking. In 2016, Monongalia and Jefferson counties in West Virginia were added to the HIDTA program. Additional counties in my state and across the country continue to seek HIDTA designations, demonstrating that there is still unmet need for the program's resources.

The Drug Free Communities program has targeted its prevention efforts to some of the hardest hit regions of West Virginia. Last fall, eight grantees in West Virginia from our Eastern and Northern Panhandles to the southern coalfields received funding to support community specific efforts to combat the drug epidemic.

More resources to aid our local law enforcement and community prevention efforts are necessary. That is why I led bipartisan efforts to secure a funding increase for both the HIDTA and Drug Free Communities programs in the Fiscal Year 2017 Omnibus Appropriations Act that President Trump signed into law last week.

I urge you to reconsider any plans to propose funding cuts for the ONDCP in the midst of this serious opioid epidemic and instead submit to Congress a budget proposal that will demonstrate the Administration's strong commitment to aiding our state and local governments in combatting drug addiction.

If cuts to the ONDCP, including the HIDTA and Drug Free Communities programs, are proposed in the Administration's Fiscal Year 2018 Budget then I will lead a bipartisan group of my colleagues on the Appropriations Committee and in the Senate to reject those proposed cuts.

Sincerely,

Shelley Moore Capito
Chairman
Senate Appropriations Subcommittee on Financial Services and General Government

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Roundup of News Stories with a HIDTA Nexus - First Quarter - 2012

 

WOMAN SENTENCED TO 5 YEARS FOR HER ROLE IN MULING HEROIN ON COMMERCIAL AIRLINES

The following information was released by the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives:

CASSANDRA BATISTE, age 41, a resident of Houston, Texas, was sentenced today by the Honorable Stanwood R. Duval, Jr. to sixty (60) months in prison for her role in a large scale drug trafficking conspiracy. Additionally, Judge Duvall ordered that BATISTE be placed on three (3) years of supervised release following the term of imprisonment, during which time the defendant will be under federal supervision and risks an additional term of imprisonment should she violate any terms of her supervised release.

BATISTE pleaded guilty on February 2, 2011, to one count of conspiracy to possess with intent to distribute 1 kilogram or more of heroin and 500 grams or more of cocaine hydrochloride in the Eastern District of Louisiana. The conspiracy, which existed on or before January 2009 and continued until on or about December 17, 2009, involved heroin trafficking activities of WILLIAM STEVENSON and multiple retail distributors he supplied with bundles of heroin for distribution to addicts in B. W. Cooper Housing Development on a daily basis.

BATISTE was a mule for STEVENSONs supplier, LANDRY GRANDISON, also a resident of Houston, Texas who pleaded guilty last year and was sentenced to 216 months imprisonment. BATISTE and her partner, codefendant TROY POCHE would travel to and from Houston and New Orleans on commercial airline flights with the money and heroin to facilitate the conspiracy. POCHE received a sentence of 87 months last year.

The case was investigated by DEA in collaboration with the Gulf Coast High Intensity Drug Trafficking Task Force (HIDTA) and the Organized Crime Drug Enforcement Task Force (OCDETF).

The HIDTA Task Force is led by DEA and includes a team of dedicated investigators from the New Orleans Police Department and the Bureau of Alcohol Tobacco and Firearms. OCDETF is an important program which targets the most significant drug trafficking organizations within the United States, as well as those outside of the United States borders that impact drug trafficking within the United States. Also assisting in the enforcement operations were the Louisiana State Police, Jefferson Parish Sheriffs Office, Kenner Police Department, and St. Tammany Parish Sheriffs Office, the United States Internal Revenue Service, and the Department for Housing and Urban Development OIG.

This article appeared on January 11, 2012 in the States News Service.

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JOSH FARMER SENTENCED FOR CONSPIRACY TO POSSESS WITH INTENT TO DISTRIBUTE METHAMPHETAMINE

The following information was released by the United States Attorney's Office for the District of Montana:

The United States Attorney's Office announced that during a federal court session in Billings, on January 18, 2012, before Senior U.S. District Judge Jack D. Shanstrom, JOSH FARMER, a 22-year-old resident of Billings, appeared for sentencing. FARMER was sentenced to a term of:

Prison: 60 months

Special Assessment: $100

Supervised Release: 5 years

FARMER was sentenced in connection with his guilty plea to conspiracy to possess with the intent to distribute methamphetamine.

In an Offer of Proof filed by Assistant U.S. Attorney James E. Seykora, the government stated it would have proved at trial the following:

On January 18, 2011, detectives with the High Intensity Drug Trafficking Area (HIDTA) Task Force received information from a confidential informant (CI) regarding the methamphetamine trafficking activities of Richard Pospisil. According to the CI, Pospisil was distributing ounce quantities of methamphetamine in the Billings area.

On January 18, 2011, the CI purchased a half ounce of methamphetamine from Pospisil. Also on this date, 12.2 grams of 76% methamphetamine or 9.1 grams of actual methamphetamine was seized from FARMER in Laurel. Information provided by the CI and others show that FARMER's methamphetamine was supplied by Pospisil.

On January 26, 2011, a traffic stop was conducted on a vehicle whose occupants were Pospisil and FARMER. Officers seized 59.5 grams of a mixture of methamphetamine or 45.5 grams of actual methamphetamine from FARMER and Pospisil.

When debriefed by agents on January 26, 2011, FARMER admitted that he has been involved in the distribution and use of methamphetamine for about 15 months and that his main source of supply was Pospisil. FARMER indicated he had purchased approximately 3 to 4 pounds of methamphetamine from Pospisil for redistribution.

The United States would have established that the amount of methamphetamine that FARMER possessed with intent to distribute or distributed during the period of the conspiracy was between 500 grams of a mixture and 1.5 kilograms (3.3 pounds) of methamphetamine.

Pospisil pled guilty to federal charges and has been sentenced.

Because there is no parole in the federal system, the "truth in sentencing" guidelines mandate that FARMER will likely serve all of the time imposed by the court. In the federal system, FARMER does have the opportunity to earn a sentence reduction for "good behavior." However, this reduction will not exceed 15% of the overall sentence.

The investigation was a cooperative effort between the Drug Enforcement Administration, the Billings Big Sky Safe Streets Task Force, and the High Intensity Drug Trafficking Area (HIDTA) Task Force.

This article appeared on January 20, 2012 in the States News Service

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BRIDGEPORT WOMAN SENTENCED TO FEDERAL PRISON FOR ILLEGALLY DISTRIBUTING OXYCODONE

The following information was released by the United States Attorney's Office for the District of Connecticut:

David B. Fein, United States Attorney for the District of Connecticut, announced that DAMARIS RODRIGUEZ, 37, of Bridgeport, was sentenced today by United States District Judge Mark R. Kravitz in New Haven to 12 months and one day of imprisonment, followed by three years of supervised release, for illegally distributing prescription narcotics.

This matter stems from a six-month investigation conducted by the Drug Enforcement Administration's Bridgeport High Intensity Drug Trafficking Area (HIDTA) Task Force and the Bridgeport Police Department's Tactical Narcotics Team into a drug trafficking organization that was responsible for the large-scale distribution of heroin, cocaine and oxycodone in and around Bridgeport.

According to court documents and statements made in court, between January and March 2011, RODRIGUEZ was intercepted over a court-authorized wiretap ordering various quantities of oxycodone pills from another member of the conspiracy. Law enforcement officers also observed RODRIGUEZ as she traveled to a Bridgeport bar to pick up the narcotics. RODRIGUEZ distributed some of the pills to others and kept some for her personal use.

On October 25, 2011, RODRIGUEZ pleaded guilty to one count of conspiracy to possess with intent to distribute oxycodone, a Schedule II controlled substance.

A total of 15 individuals have been charged with various federal narcotics distribution offenses as a result of this investigation.

This matter is being investigated by the Drug Enforcement Administration's Bridgeport High Intensity Drug Trafficking Area (HIDTA) Task Force, and the Bridgeport Police Department's Tactical Narcotics Team. The Task Force is composed of members of the Bridgeport, Stamford, Norwalk, Stratford and Westport Police Departments, and the Connecticut State Police.

This case is being prosecuted by Assistant United States Attorneys H. Gordon Hall and Sarah P. Karwan.

This article appeared on February 29, 2012 in the States News Service.
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MAN SENTENCED FOR ASSISTING DRUG DEALER IN GUN PURCHASE States News Service

The following information was released by the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives:

ANDREW LAROSE, age 55, a resident of Thibodeaux, Louisiana, was sentenced today by the Honorable Mary Ann Vial Lemmon to twenty-one (21) months in prison and two (2) years supervised release for making a false statement related to his purchase of a Glock .40 caliber handgun in 2009 for Mark Ross. Ross, a felon convicted of drug violations in the Eastern District of Louisiana in 2003, was arrested by federal agents in December 2009 after a year long investigation into his and his associates drug trafficking activities. The gun LAROSE purchased for Ross was traced back to LAROSE through the documents required to be kept by the firearms dealers. Those documents showed that LAROSE lied when he stated on the firearms forms that he was purchasing the gun for himself.

The case was investigated by DEA in collaboration with the Gulf Coast High Intensity Drug Trafficking Task Force (HIDTA) and the Organized Crime Drug Enforcement Task Force (OCDETF).

The HIDTA Task Force is led by DEA and includes a team of dedicated investigators from the New Orleans Police Department and the Bureau of Alcohol Tobacco and Firearms. OCDETF is an important program which targets the most significant drug trafficking organizations within the United States, as well as those outside of the United States borders that impact drug trafficking within the United States. The case was prosecuted by Emily K. Greenfield.

This article appeared on January 23, 2012 in the States News Service

 

WHITE HOUSE CASH LINKED TO POLICE SPYING ON MUSLIMS

The money is part of a little-known grant intended to help law enforcement fight drug crimes. Since the terrorist attacks of Sept 11, 2001, the Bush and Obama administrations have provided $135m (EUR 100m) to the New York and New Jersey region through the High Intensity Drug Trafficking Area programme, known as HIDTA.

Some of that money - it's unclear exactly how much because the programme has little oversight - has paid for the cars that plainclothes NYPD officers used to conduct surveillance on Muslim neighbourhoods. It also paid for computers that store even innocuous information about Muslim college students, mosque sermons and social events.

When NYPD Commissioner Raymond Kelly was filled in on these efforts, his briefings were prepared on HIDTA computers.

The AP confirmed the use of White House money through secret police documents and interviews with current and former city and federal officials. It also obtained electronic documents with digital signatures indicating they were created and saved on HIDTA computers. The HIDTA grant programme is overseen by the White House Office of National Drug Control Policy.

The disclosure that the White House is at least partially paying for the NYPD's wholesale surveillance of places where Muslims eat, shop, work and pray complicates efforts by the Obama administration to stay out of the fray over New York's controversial counterterrorism programmes.

The administration has championed outreach to American Muslims and has said law enforcement should not put entire communities under suspicion.

The Obama administration, however, has pointedly refused to endorse or repudiate the NYPD programmes it helps pay for. The White House last week declined to comment on its grant payments.

John Brennan, Obama's top counterterrorism adviser, last year called the NYPD's efforts "heroic" but would not elaborate. Homeland security secretary Janet Napolitano, whose department also gives grant money to the NYPD and is one of the lead federal agencies helping police build relationships with Muslims, has refused in recent months to discuss the police tactics.

Tom Perez, the Justice Department's top civil rights lawyer, has repeatedly refused to answer questions about the NYPD.

This article appeared on February 28, 2012 in the Irish Examiner.com.


REQUIRING A PRESCRIPTION FOR COLD MEDICINE HAS NOT REDUCED METH USE IN OREGON

Cascade Study Raises Questions about Real Impact of Oregon's Prescription-Only Requirement

Cascade Policy Institute released a study today which found the 2005 Oregon law which restricts access to medicines containing pseudoephedrine (PSE) has not made the illegal drug methamphetamine harder to get or reduced the number of people using it. The Oregon law makes any medication containing PSE available only via prescription ("Rx-only").

"This study affirms what we predicted over six years ago: The law would not significantly curb meth use or production, but it would impose a considerable burden on legitimate users of cold and allergy medicines like Claritin-D and Sudafed," said Steve Buckstein, Cascade's founder and Senior Policy Analyst. "With other state and federal lawmakers considering following Oregon's lead on this issue, we thought it was critical to find out what has actually happened here since the law went into effect."

"The prescription requirement for cold and allergy medicines containing pseudoephedrine had no more of an impact on the reduction of meth lab incidents than other measures adopted in neighboring states. In fact, the rate of mobile meth lab reductions in Oregon is nearly identical to that of six neighboring and nearby states that do not have a prescription requirement. Moreover, meth addicts in Oregon can still get access to their drug of choice," added Buckstein. "Overall, our study raises fundamental questions about the effectiveness of Oregon's law and whether such a prescription mandate-which impacts all consumers in the state-is warranted."

Key findings of the study:

Law enforcement in Oregon report that methamphetamine remains the state's greatest drug threat, despite the reduction in in-state meth production, and contributes the most towards drug-related crime. Methamphetamine lab incidents in Oregon declined more than 90 percent between 2004 and 2010. Most of this decline occurred before the prescription-only law went into effect in 2006. Six neighboring states including Washington and California experienced similar declines in meth lab reductions without imposing a prescription requirement during the same time frame. The number of methamphetamine admissions to substance abuse centers in Oregon declined about 23 percent from 2006 to 2009, the exact same rate as the rest of the United States. Usage was slightly higher in California at 29 percent and slightly lower in Washington at 20 percent. Legitimate users of pseudoephedrine in Oregon incur additional costs as a result of this law, because it requires a doctor visit to get Sudafed and similar products that are available over-the-counter in 48 other states. Some of these additional costs are also borne by all taxpayers who fund government health care programs.

The first part of the study examines whether the manufacture and availability of methamphetamine in Oregon is substantially different from similar states and similar regions of the country. Part two examines trends in indicators that track methamphetamine production, such as Oregon's lab incidents compared to other states. Part three examines trends in indicators of methamphetamine use, such as substance abuse-related admissions in Oregon compared to other geographies. And finally, part four explores the costs, financial and otherwise, to consumers.

The report's findings are consistent with studies conducted by other independent groups, such as Oregon's High Intensity Drug Area (HIDTA), which reported: "Methamphetamine continues to be highly available and widely used throughout the HIDTA region and remains the most serious drug threat to Oregon" ("Threat Assessment & Counter-Drug Strategy," 2011 Oregon High Intensity Drug Trafficking Areas (HIDTA) Report, Accessed 9/26/11).

Please visit the Cascade Policy Institute website to read the entire study: http://cascadepolicy.org/

The study was conducted by Chris Stomberg, Ph.D., a Partner, and Arun Sharma, a Principal, in the Antitrust and Competition, and Healthcare practices at Bates White, LLC, an economic consulting firm based in Washington, D.C. Primary report author Chris Stomberg can be contacted at chris.stomberg@bateswhite.com or (202) 747-1421.

About Cascade Policy Institute
Founded in 1991, Cascade Policy Institute is Oregon's premier policy research center. Cascade's mission is to explore and promote public policy alternatives that foster individual liberty, personal responsibility and economic opportunity. To that end, the Institute publishes policy studies, provides public speakers, organizes community forums and sponsors educational programs.

This article appeared on February 21, 2012 in the PR Newswire Association LLC.

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JOINT DRUG INVESTIGATION LEADS TO FEDERAL INDICTMENT OF 24 INDIVIDUALS IN PINE BLUFF AND SURROUNDING AREAS; ANOTHER 10 PERSONS CHARGED IN STATE COURT

The following information was released by the United States Attorney's Office for the Eastern District of Arkansas:

Christopher R. Thyer, United States Attorney for the Eastern District of Arkansas; William J. Bryant, Assistant Special Agent in Charge of the Little Rock District Office of the Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA); Pine Bluff Police Chief Brenda Davis-Jones; and Jefferson County Sheriff Gerald Robinson, announced numerous arrests today stemming from a multi-agency investigation into drug trafficking activities in the Pine Bluff area.

On February 8, 2012, nine federal indictments were returned by a grand jury for the Eastern District charging 24 defendants with drug conspiracy and multiple substantive counts of distributing crack cocaine. State officials charged an additional 10 defendants related to this investigation with drug offenses in Jefferson County Circuit Court. A majority of the 34 charged defendants have prior criminal history involving drug trafficking and other violent offenses.

In April 2009, DEA, working jointly with the Pine Bluff Police Department's Vice and Narcotics Section, began investigating a drug trafficking organization headed by Quentin Tidwell and Keenan Packard. Investigators determined that the drug trafficking organization was responsible for distributing three to four kilograms of cocaine and crack cocaine per month in the Central and South Arkansas areas and had been in operation for years. The group was based out of Pine Bluff, but also had significant distribution activities in Little Rock, Stuttgart, Humphrey, Altheimer, and Dumas. Intelligence gathered also indicated that the drug trafficking organization had direct ties to several towns and cities within the state of Texas, including Corpus Christi, Brownsville, and Dallas.

"We continue to target the drug trafficking organizations in the Eastern District to make our communities safer for all citizens. It took years of work by federal, state, and local law enforcement to make this operation successful," stated Thyer. "In addition to the arrests made in this case, a number of weapons were seized - guns that will no longer be used in criminal activity in the towns where we seek to live in peace."

Bryant agreed, "This investigation took good solid police work and the teamwork of multiple agencies." Bryant added, "With the additional support provided by the Gulf Coast High Intensity Drug Trafficking Area (HIDTA) we continue to dismantle drug trafficking organizations in Arkansas."

The case was initiated by DEA HIDTA #61 and the Tri County Drug Task Force, which is comprised of officers from the Jefferson County Sheriff's Department and the Pine Bluff Police Department. HIDTA #161 consists of special agents from the DEA, as well as officers and personnel from the following agencies: Pine Bluff Police Department; Jefferson County Sheriff's Department; Jacksonville Police Department; 20th Judicial District Drug Task Force; Little Rock Police Department; Arkansas Highway Police; and the Arkansas National Guard. Other agencies participating in today's arrests include the Federal Bureau of Investigation; the United States Marshals Service; the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives; the Arkansas State Police; and the Jefferson County Prosecuting Attorney's Office. The federal case is being prosecuted by Assistant United States Attorneys Anne Gardner and Edward O. Walker.

An indictment contains only allegations. All defendants are presumed innocent unless and until proven guilty.

This article appeared on February 16, 2012 in the States News Service.

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LAMONT MAN PLEADS GUILTY TO ASSISTING IN POT GROW ON PUBLIC LAND States News

The following information was released by the United States Attorney's Office for the Eastern District of California:

United States Attorney Benjamin B. Wagner announced today that Aurelio Anaya-Sanchez, 36, of Lamont, California, entered a guilty plea to conspiring to cultivate, distribute and possess with intent to distribute marijuana grown on public land.

In pleading guilty, Anaya-Sanchez admitted that he was involved in the cultivation of marijuana in the Sentinel Peak area of the Sequoia National Forest in Tulare County. At the cultivation site, law enforcement agents found evidence of over 16,205 marijuana plants, over 850 pounds of processed marijuana, and three firearms, including an assault rifle. Native vegetation was cut to make room for the marijuana plants. Trash and fertilizer containers were scattered throughout the site, including in a flowing stream. Anaya-Sanchez has agreed to pay restitution to the U.S. Forest Service in the amount of $3,686.54 for the cost of cleaning up the land and natural resources damaged by the illicit cultivation operation.

The case was investigated by the U.S. Forest Service, U.S. Department of Homeland Security - Homeland Security Investigations, Bureau of Land Management, Southern Tri-County High Intensity Drug Trafficking Area (HIDTA), California Department of Justice Campaign Against Marijuana Planting (CAMP), California Department of Fish and Game, and Tulare County Sheriff's Office. Assistant United States Attorney Karen Escobar is prosecuting the case.

Anaya-Sanchez, who was previously ordered detained as a flight risk, is scheduled for sentencing on May 14, 2012, before Chief U.S. District Judge Anthony W. Ishii. He faces a mandatory minimum prison term of 10 years and a maximum prison term of life, along with a fine of up to $10,000, 000. However, the actual sentence will be determined at the discretion of the Court after consideration of the Federal Sentencing Guidelines, which take into account a number of variables, and any applicable statutory sentencing factors.

This article appeared on March 5, 2012 in the States News Service.

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House Energy and Commerce Subcommittee on Commerce, Manufacturing, and Trade Hearing; "Prescription Drug Diversion: Combating the Scourge."; Testimony by Richard Kerlikowske, Director, Office of National Drug Control Policy Congressional Documents and Publications March 1, 2012

Chairman Bono Mack, Ranking Member Butterfield, and distinguished members of the Subcommittee, thank you for this opportunity to appear before this Subcommittee once again to address the issue of prescription drug diversion and abuse in our country. As you know, the Office of National Drug Control Policy (ONDCP) was established by Congress with the principal purpose of reducing illicit drug use, illicit manufacturing, and trafficking; drug-related crime and violence; and drug-related health consequences. Our office establishes policies, priorities, and objectives for the Federal drug control program agencies. We also evaluate, coordinate, and oversee the international and domestic anti-drug efforts of executive branch agencies and ensure such efforts sustain and complement state and local anti-drug activities.

As you are also aware, I am charged with producing the National Drug Control Strategy (Strategy), which directs the Nation's anti-drug efforts and establishes programs, a budget, and guidelines for cooperation among Federal, state, and local entities. The Obama Administration recognizes that addiction is a disease, and that prevention, treatment, and law enforcement must all be included as part of a strategy to stop drug use, get help to those who need it, and ensure public safety. Building upon this national Strategy, the Administration has developed the comprehensive Prescription Drug Abuse Prevention Plan. As I will discuss later in further detail, this document establishes a plan to reduce diversion and abuse of prescription drugs, while continuing to ensure legitimate access to medications for patients who need them.

The Administration's inaugural Strategy, released in May 2010, committed to reducing drug use and its consequences through a science-based public health approach to policy. The Strategy established specific goals by which to measure our success. The Strategy included action items that comprehensively address all areas of drug control. We added a few more action items relating to special populations as part of the 2011 Strategy, and the 2012 Strategy, which will be released in the coming weeks, will provide a status update on where we are in terms of meeting these goals. We have made significant progress on many of these items. In addition, we have highlighted three signature initiatives in each year's Strategy - prevention, drugged driving, and most pertinent for this hearing, prescription drug abuse.

The Epidemic of Prescription Drug Abuse

Over the past decade, the Nation has witnessed alarmingly high rates of prescription drug abuse and misuse, as well as dramatic increases in the consequences that have been devastating for public health and safety. We have seen increases in substance abuse treatment admissions, emergency department visits, and most alarmingly, deaths attributable to prescription drug overdoses. These trends and the scope of the problem have led the Department of Health and Human Services' (HHS) Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) to characterize prescription drug abuse as a public health epidemic, a label that draws further urgency to both policy and community-based responses.

The latest survey data show that approximately seven million Americans currently abuse psychotherapeutic drugs. In 2010, 2.4 million Americans aged 12 or older used psychotherapeutics non-medically for the first time, which equates to nearly 6,600 new users per day. The largest share of these new users started with pain relievers (approximately 2.0 million or 5,500 new users per day). This figure is second only to new users of marijuana. n1

These figures translate into very real consequences. In 2009, estimates indicate over 1.2 million emergency department visits involved the non-medical use of pharmaceuticals, double the estimate from 5 years earlier, and outnumbering visits involving all other illicit drugs combined. Much of this increase is attributable to visits involving narcotic pain relievers, a class of drugs that includes oxycodone, hydrocodone, and methadone. n2 Pain relievers are driving many of the negative trends in prescription drug abuse. Data indicate a six-fold increase in addiction treatment admissions for individuals primarily abusing prescription painkillers from 1999 to 2009. n3 These increases span age groups, gender, race, ethnicity, education, employment level, and region. We also know that pain relievers are the most commonly involved drugs in drug-related suicide attempts. n4

In 2008, more than 36,000 Americans died from drug overdoses, and prescription drugs-- particularly opioid painkillers--were involved in a significant proportion of those deaths. The CDC found that opioid pain relievers were involved in 14,800 of these deaths. n5 Opioid pain relievers are now involved in more overdose deaths than heroin and cocaine combined. In the United States in 2009, drug-induced deaths outnumbered motor vehicle crash deaths for the first time. n6

Substance use has also affected our military, Veterans, and their families. According to the latest Department of Defense survey, one in eight (12 percent) active duty military personnel reported past month illicit drug use, largely driven by the abuse or misuse of prescription drugs (reported by 11 percent). n7 We also know that substance abuse affects many of the country's estimated 67,000 homeless Veterans. n8

The human costs of prescription drug abuse are tragic and cannot be overstated for the families and friends that have experienced the loss of a loved one. Yet there is also a cost to society at large. A recent study estimated that the health care, workplace, and criminal justice costs of prescription opioid abuse amounted to over $56 billion in 2007. n9 Financial consequences are just part of the damage caused by prescription drug abuse.

The vast majority of abused pharmaceutical drugs originally enter into circulation through a prescription. And we know that most prescription painkillers are prescribed by primary care physicians, internists, dentists, and orthopedic surgeons, not pain management specialists. n10 The quantity of prescription painkillers sold to pharmacies, hospitals, and doctors' offices approximately quadrupled between 1999 and 2010. In fact, CDC estimates that by 2010, enough opioid pain relievers were sold to medicate every American adult with a typical dose of 5 milligrams of hydrocodone every 4 hours for 1 month. n11

Unfortunately, once they are prescribed and dispensed, these drugs are frequently diverted to people using them without prescriptions. The latest survey shows that in 2009 and 2010 approximately 55 percent of the nonmedical users of prescription pain relievers got them "from a friend or relative for free." Another 11 percent bought them from a friend or relative, and 5 percent took them from a friend or relative without asking. This means that over 70 percent of people abusing or misusing prescription pain relievers obtained them from friends or family. n12

This same survey shows that 17 percent of Americans using prescription pain relievers non-medically obtained them from one doctor, while just over 4 percent got them from a drug dealer or other stranger, and 0.4 percent bought them online. n13

Researchers have begun to identify risk factors for overdosing on opioids. The first of these is "doctor shopping obtaining multiple prescriptions from different providers n14, n15.Other predictors include taking one or more sedative/hypnotic (Benzodiazepine-like) medications, high daily dosages of prescription painkillers, and multiple overlapping prescriptions as well as prescriptions for certain drugs and visiting multiple pharmacies n16, n17, n18, n19, n20, n21.Individuals with histories of mental illness or other substance abuse are also at increased risk. n22

Regionally, the drug overdose epidemic is most severe in the Southwest and in Appalachia, and rates vary substantially between states. The highest drug overdose death rates in 2008 were found in New Mexico and West Virginia (27.0 and 25.8 deaths per 100,000 population, respectively), which had rates nearly five times that of the state with the lowest rate, Nebraska (5.5 deaths per 100,000). The national average for drug overdose death is 11.9 deaths per 100,000, and California, at 10.4 deaths per 100,000, sits just below the national average. n23

There are also some socioeconomic trends in these overdose deaths. According to researchers at the CDC, those living in rural areas are at higher risk for overdose n24, n25, n26 ,as are those in areas n27, n28 with higher proportions of impoverished residents .Among individuals on Medicaid, studies have found disproportionate patterns of painkiller use as well as significantly higher risk of overdose on prescription pain relievers n29, n30.In addition, analysis of 31 states' poison control center calls shows that the percentages of residents living in poverty and unemployed correlate with prescription drug abuse reports, while the percentage with bachelor's degrees, and to a lesser extent high school diplomas, are related to less prescription abuse. n31

These figures highlight the continuing health and safety dangers that prescription drug abuse, misuse, and diversion pose for the country. The ease of access to prescription drugs, combined with a low perception of risk, make reducing prescription drug abuse especially difficult, particularly among youth. When properly and safely prescribed by healthcare professionals, prescription medications can provide enormous health and quality of life benefits to patients. Medical science has successfully developed medications that can alleviate suffering, such as opioids for cancer pain and benzodiazepines for anxiety disorders, and allowed more individuals to have access to the medicines they need. However, we all now recognize that these drugs can be just as dangerous and deadly as illicit substances when misused or abused.

An Improved Response

The ongoing public health and safety consequences of prescription drug abuse underscore the need for action. When I testified before this Subcommittee last April, the Administration had just released its comprehensive Prescription Drug Abuse Prevention Plan, entitled "Epidemic: Responding to America's Prescription Drug Abuse Crisis." This plan builds upon the Obama Administration's National Drug Control Strategy, and brings together Federal, state, local, and tribal leaders to reduce diversion and abuse of prescription drugs. It strikes a balance between our need to prevent diversion and abuse of pharmaceuticals with the need to ensure legitimate access, focusing on four major pillars, each designed to intervene at a critical juncture in the process of diversion and abuse. These pillars include education for prescribers and the public; prescription monitoring; safe drug disposal; and effective enforcement. I am pleased to report that we are making significant progress in each of the four major pillars outlined in the plan.

The first pillar of our response plan is education. As stated earlier, most prescription painkillers are prescribed by primary care physicians, internists, dentists, and orthopedic surgeons, not pain specialists. Despite this reality, surveys of health care professionals and schools reveal significant gaps in education and training on pain management, substance abuse, and safe prescribing practices. For these reasons, the Administration continues to support mandatory prescriber education. The urgency of this epidemic and the fundamental need for safe prescribing practices in modern medical care demand effective curricula for prescribers. The HHS Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) is providing critical training on prescription drug abuse for physicians both online, and since 2007, in 40 sites in 29 states with particularly high rates of opioid dispensing.

These training programs are providing important knowledge and tools for medical professionals responsible for safely prescribing these medications. In addition, the HHS Food and Drug Administration have developed a Risk Evaluation and Mitigation Strategy (REMS) for long-acting and extended-release opioids. This REMS requires all manufacturers of long-acting and extended-release opioids to develop educational materials and training for prescribers of these medications. The manufacturers must also develop information that prescribers can use when counseling patients about the risks and benefits of opioid use.

Another aspect of this education effort involves the general public, especially people using prescription medications, as well as parents and caregivers. We are working to educate Americans about the risks and prevalence of prescription drug abuse and about the safe use and proper storage and disposal of these medications. Through our National Youth Anti-Drug Media Campaign, ONDCP has developed materials for use by community anti-drug coalitions to educate youth about the dangers of prescription drug abuse. However, we also know that the average age of first non-medical use of pain relievers is 21 years old. n32 Americans start abusing prescription drugs later in life than with other illicit drugs, so we need to ensure that prevention messaging targets adults as well. With these issues in mind, the Administration is producing educational materials, holding public events, and working with other government and private sector stakeholders to provide the right information to Americans who most need it.

The second pillar of the Administration's plan focuses on expanding and improving state Prescription Drug Monitoring Programs (PDMPs). As you know, these state-wide databases monitor the prescribing and dispensing of controlled substances, and serve a multitude of functions. PDMPs can and should serve as a tool for patient care, a drug epidemic early warning system (especially when combined with other data), and a drug diversion and insurance fraud investigative tool. Information contained in the PDMP can be used by prescribers and pharmacists to detect drug-drug interactions and identify patients who may be doctor shopping or in need of substance abuse treatment. Under specific circumstances, regulatory and law enforcement officials can also use the information to pursue cases involving rogue prescribers or pharmacists, or "pill mills," and other forms of diversions.

In 2006, only 20 states had PDMPs. Today, 48 states have laws authorizing PDMPs, and 40 states have operational programs. Despite this progress and the demonstrated benefits of PDMPs, some states lack operational programs, and many states that do operate PDMPs lack interoperability with other states. All states should have operational PDMPs with mechanisms in place for sharing between states. Additionally, health care providers must use these databases regularly and consistently, incorporating PDMP checks as a standard part of patient care. We are working with other Federal and state health care and law enforcement officials to expand and improve the operations of these PDMPs, as well as resolve issues concerning implementation and interoperability among State databases, as permitted by law. I am also pleased to report that the Administration worked with Congress to secure language in the Consolidated Appropriations Act, 2012, to allow the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) to share prescription drug data with state PDMPs. VA will soon begin the necessary rulemaking process that ultimately will provide state monitoring programs with critical data from VA prescribers.

ONDCP continues to work with the Office of the National Coordinator for Health Information Technology at HHS to explore connecting PDMPs with health information technology systems and state Health Information Exchanges. We are also exploring ways to incorporate real-time PDMP data at the point of care and dispensing. These advances will maximize the public health and public safety benefits of PDMPs.

The third pillar of our plan focuses on safe disposal of unused and expired medications. As I mentioned earlier, over 70 percent of people misusing prescription pain relievers report getting their painkillers from a friend or relative. Unused medications sitting in our medicine cabinets are falling into the wrong hands. Safe medication disposal programs provide a clear mechanism through which to ensure unused or expired medications are disposed of in a timely, safe, and environmentally responsible manner. The Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA), in partnership with hundreds of state and local entities, is providing more opportunities for safe disposal of unused or expired medications. Through coordinated, nationwide National Prescription Drug Take Back Days, DEA has collected more than 498 tons of unused medications to date. The next "Take Back Day" is scheduled for April 28, and we are looking forward to safely collecting, disposing, and preventing diversion of unwanted medications.

The passage of the Secure and Responsible Drug Disposal Act in October 2010 was a critical step forward in expanding prescription drug disposal nationwide. We anticipate the DEA rulemaking process to be completed later this year, making safe disposal of prescription drugs more convenient and accessible for all Americans. If we want to ensure a reduction in the amount of prescription drugs available for diversion and abuse, a drug disposal program needs to be easily accessible to the public, environmentally friendly, and cost-effective, and the cost burden must not be placed on consumers. ONDCP is working with Federal, state, local, and tribal stakeholders to identify ways to establish take back programs in their communities upon completion of the rulemaking process.

The Administration also recognizes the significant role that "pill mills" and rogue prescribers play in this issue. For this reason, the fourth and final pillar of the Administration's plan focuses on improving law enforcement capabilities to address diversion as the source of prescription drugs. ONDCP has worked with congressional partners and law enforcement and prosecutor groups to raise awareness of the scope of the prescription drug epidemic. The National Methamphetamine and Pharmaceutical Initiative (NMPI), which is funded through ONDCP's High Intensity Drug Trafficking Area (HIDTA) program, is providing critical training on pharmaceutical crime investigations to law enforcement agencies across the country.

This enforcement and prosecution training is an important start to what requires a coordinated, long-term focus. One example of the ongoing challenges comes from Florida, which in 2010 was the epicenter of the nation's pill mill epidemic. n33 At the time, DEA reported that 90 of the top 100 oxycodone purchasing physicians in the nation were located in the state. However, new state laws have stripped doctors of their ability to dispense controlled substances, including opioid based pain relievers, at rogue pain clinics. These state actions, combined with DEA's significant enforcement actions, have resulted in a decreased number of rogue pain clinics. As a result, oxycodone purchases by doctors in Florida have dropped dramatically. In fact, there was a 97 percent decrease in 2011 compared to 2010, and the number of Florida doctors appearing on the list of the top 100 oxycodone purchasing physicians dropped from 90 in 2010 to only 13 in 2011. n34

The combination of law enforcement, regulatory, and legislative actions are forcing doctor shoppers and others seeking sources for prescription drugs for abuse to turn from Florida to other states in the region. There have been notable increases in doctors purchasing oxycodone in Georgia, Tennessee, and Kentucky. Among oxycodone purchasing doctors, 21 doctors located in Georgia and 11 in Tennessee are now among the top 100. n35 In order to prevent pill mill operators and rogue prescribers from simply popping up in other areas of the country, the Administration is working with state and local leaders to learn from Florida's experience and explore enforcement, regulatory, and legislative options to prevent diversion and its consequences for public health and safety.

There remain other challenges, including data limitations that inhibit our ability to construct a more detailed picture of the prescription drug diversion and abuse problem. In order to address these gaps, ONDCP is undertaking an analysis project that uses other data sources to fill in major information gaps. This project will examine methods by which prescription drugs are purchased, patterns in those purchasing behaviors, and whether those patterns are indicative of suspicious behavior. Examples of suspicious acquisition patterns that the project will examine include disproportionate numbers of cash-based purchases or the filling of multiple prescriptions for the same drug in an unusually short period of time. Identification and analysis of behaviors such as these will then be used to develop a complete profile of prescription drug diversion. Having first identified the ways in which the most commonly diverted prescription drugs are acquired, this project will then estimate the proportion of prescription drugs that are likely diverted from the legitimate market either for illicit resale or abuse. This is a crucial effort in developing a fuller understanding of the size and scope of prescription drug diversion in the U.S., and will provide valuable information to policymakers seeking to reduce diversion and its consequences.

Conclusion

As discussed above, we have seen extensive strides in efforts to address the prescription drug abuse problem. The public at large is better aware of the epidemic, and monitoring and disposal efforts have produced results. Unfortunately, however, these efforts have not yet translated into a reduction in prescription drug abuse. This means that we must redouble our efforts to achieve the as-yet unmet goals of the plan, such as mandatory prescriber education and improving PMDP utilization, and make needed enhancements to existing activities. The Administration is committed to maintaining its focus on prescription drug abuse as a signature initiative as part of the National Drug Control Strategy.

In closing, I recognize that none of the things ONDCP and my Executive Branch colleagues want to accomplish for the Nation are possible without the active support of Congress. Thank you for your continued support of ONDCP's efforts. I appreciate the opportunity to testify here today on this public health epidemic, and I look forward to continuing to work with you to reduce prescription drug abuse.

This originally appeared in the Federal Information and News Dispatch, Inc. Congressional Documents and Publications on March 1, 2012.

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HOUSTON JURY RETURNS GUILTY VERDICT IN 1,900 POUND MARIJUANA SEIZURE

 

The following information was released by the United States Attorney's Office for the Southern District of Texas:

A federal jury sitting in Houston has found Joselito Flores Mercado, 49, guilty of conspiracy and possession with intent to distribute in connection with a seizure of more than 1,900 pounds of marijuana, United States Attorney Kenneth Magidson announced today. The jury returned its verdict in less than three hours following a three-day trial.

Mercado, of Houston, was indicted in 2011 along with Jose Alberto DeLeon, 34, of Mexico, for conspiracy to possess with intent to distribute more than 100 kilograms of marijuana and aiding and abetting possession with intent to distribute more than 100 kilograms of marijuana. DeLeon, who testified as a witness for the United States in the case against Mercado, is scheduled to proceed to trial next week. He is presumed innocent unless convicted through due process of law.

During the trial, the jury heard testimony that on the morning of April 19, 2011, agents with the Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) were conducting surveillance on a business operated by Mercado in West Houston and witnessed two crates being delivered to the business. Later that afternoon, agents followed first DeLeon and then Mercado as they left the business. The testimony indicated DeLeon admitted to seeing a large amount of marijuana in Mercados business and that Mercado stated he had received two crates earlier in the day, but he did not know what was in them. Testimony further revealed that Mercado paid DeLeon $400 as a day laborer for his assistance in opening the crates and removing the marijuana from them. Returning with agents to his business, Mercado later admitted the crates had contained marijuana after agents recovered 91 separately wrapped bales of marijuana, weighing 1,915 pounds, from the business.

At trial, Mercado took the stand in his own defense and testified he acted under duress when he accepted delivery of the marijuana. However, under cross examination, Mercado admitted he never revealed the existence of these alleged threats to any law enforcement officers or agencies.

Previously released on bond, Mercado was taken into custody following the return of the verdict where he will remain pending his sentencing hearing set for June 8, 2012.

The case was investigated by the High Intensity Drug Trafficking Area (HIDTA) Task Force, DEA, Texas Department of Public Safety and Harris County Sheriffs Office and was prosecuted by Assistant United States Attorneys Rick Hanes and Ted Imperato.

This article first appeared in States News Service March 1, 2012.

 

The Drug War At Home: Hunting Drug Smugglers On U.S. Highways

High Intensity Drug Trafficking Areas (HIDTA) in Nevada and U.S.-Mexico border states. Illustration courtesy Office of National Drug Control Policy. Lt. Lazaro Chavez oversees a team that intercepts drugs smuggled from Mexico and the money heading back to the cartels. But Chavez isn’t anywhere near the border. He works 300 miles away, for the Las Vegas Metro Police Department, . “This is the battleground for us,” Chavez said. “Right here, Interstate 15.”

INFORMATION ISSUED BY U.S. ATTORNEY'S OFFICE FOR CENTRAL DISTRICT OF CALIFORNIA ON AUG. 10: INDICTMENTS TARGET ARM OF PASADENA STREET GANG ALLEGEDLY SELLING CRACK COCAINE IN ANTELOPE VALLEY

A task force of federal and local law enforcement officers this morning arrested 34 members and associates of a Pasadena-based street gang, 11 of whom are charged in federal indictments with trafficking crack cocaine in the Antelope Valley.

FUNNY MONEY? SEMINAR MIGHT HELP YOU TELL

Albany County DA David Soares has partnered with local businesses to battle an onslaught of counterfeit money flowing into the Capital Region, a problem that has risen significantly over the last six months.
Counterfeiters use the easy access to highways to go to local malls, big box stores and even smaller stores where they exchange phony dollars for merchandise and gift cards and then skip town, Soares said.

U.S. Charges 26 Alleged Street Gang Members, Associates and Drug Suppliers in West Side Heroin Distribution Conspiracies

During a seemingly routine traffic stop two weeks ago, police and federal agents covertly seized a drive shaft that was in the back of a black Jeep Cherokee driven by Erik Guevara and carrying his passenger, Rickey Ruiz. The authorities took the drive shaft to a Chicago police station where a drug dog positively alerted for the presence of narcotics. Police and agents opened the drive shaft and found approximately 7.7 kilograms -- almost 17 pounds -- of suspected heroin contained in plastic tubes.

SEN. SCHUMER: CONGRESS RESTORES FUNDING TO CRITICAL FEDERAL-LOCAL ANTI-DRUG PARTNERSHIP

Today, U.S. Senator Charles E. Schumer said that Congress has restored funding for the High Intensity Drug Trafficking Program (HIDTA) after the administration had proposed a huge cut earlier in the year. HIDTA is a critical program aimed at curbing drug trafficking, crime, sales, and abuse in every region in New York State. The proposed cut of 12% came in spite of an increasing amount of drugs being smuggled over the Canadian border. Today the Appropriations Subcommittee for Financial Services and General Government released their budget bill, which restored full funding to the program.

Federal programs to fight drugs moving forward in Congress: Will combat cross-border trafficking

Two federal programs aimed at stopping drugs from coming across the U.S./Canadian border are moving forward in Congress.
Funding for the High-Intensity Drug Trafficking Program (HIDTA) has been restored, and the Northern Border Counternarcotics Act was unanimously approved by the House.

LAWMAKERS URGED TO FIGHT PILL MILLS Local, federal officers seeking help in stemming growing numbers of fatal overdoses DRUGS: Doctor shopping legal in Texas

The prescription drug plague that has turned Houston into a center for "doctor-shopping" rings, rogue cash-only clinics and accidental overdose deaths is now threatening the entire state, according to an intelligence report to be released today by local and federal drug enforcement officials.

SEN. SCHUMER: ADMINISTRATION BUDGET SLASHES FUNDING FOR CRITICAL STATEN ISLAND DRUG ENFORCEMENT PROGRAM

Joined by law enforcement officials, U.S. Senator Charles E. Schumer today revealed that the Administration's Fiscal Year 2011 budget slashes funding for a critical program aimed at curbing drug trafficking, sales, and abuse on Staten Island. Schumer said that Staten Island is part of the High Intensity Drug Trafficking Area program that provides the borough with millions of dollars in funding to help attack the drug problem on Staten Island.

METH LABS IN DECLINE; New law pushed some producers of drug to move from California to Mexico.

A dramatic decline in illegal meth labs that once made the Central Valley infamous underscores how a federal law has cut illicit production of the drug, a new report shows. But it's unclear whether the law has had any effect on meth addiction.

58 Alleged Members of Mexican Drug Organizations Indicted in SDTX

United States Attorney Jose Angel Moreno along with Zoran Yankovich, Special Agent in Charge of the Drug Enforcement Administration's Houston Division announced today the indictment of 58 alleged members of Mexican drug organizations responsible for smuggling drugs into the United States and transporting and delivering the contraband to various points within Texas, Georgia, Ohio, Illinois and North Carolina, transporting bulk cash proceeds south to Mexico and laundering the proceeds through the acquisition of Texas real estate.

Attorney: Pot shops getting illegal marijuana

Multiple medical marijuana dispensaries are illegally acquiring black-market marijuana from out of state to meet exploding demand, a deputy Missoula County attorney who specializes in drug offenses said.

Cops harvest pot plants from Keys homes

Two marijuana grow houses were found in the Keys this week as part of a larger statewide operation called Operation Rake, the Monroe County Sheriff's Office says. Overall, authorities say, 67 houses were searched, 63 people were arrested, 3,308 plants were seized, 64.87 pounds of pot were found, 13 guns were seized and $19,562 was taken for likely forfeiture.

FLORIDA DEPARTMENT OF LAW ENFORCEMENT TARGETS PRESCRIPTION DRUG TRAFFICKERS IN 'OPERATION PAIN KILLER'

The Florida Department of Law Enforcement (FDLE) today announced the arrest of 172 individuals and the seizure of more than 20,000 prescription pills in "Operation Pain Killer," an aggressive five-month investigation targeting Central Florida prescription drug traffickers. The multi-agency operation began Jan. 1 and culminated with a final arrest round up and drug seizures on June 2.

Summit focuses on border violence

The summit wasn't called in response to the recent killing of Arizona cattle rancher Rob Krentz, but it was clearly on the minds of law enforcement Tuesday, said New Mexico Attorney General Gary King.
King was in Las Cruces to speak on the impact of organized crime on the southwest border at a summit co-sponsored by the High Intensity Drug Trafficking Area task force and the Mexican consulate.

AFTON GENERAL STORE OWNER SENTENCED TO OVER 19 YEARS FOR DRUG TRAFFICKING

United States Attorney Benjamin B. Wagner announced that Jesus Rodriguez, 42, of Butte City, was sentenced today by United States District Judge Morrison C. England Jr. to 19 years and seven months in prison for his conviction on methamphetamine trafficking charges. On March 24, 2009, after a six-day trial, a federal jury found Rodriguez guilty of two counts of possession of 50 grams or more of methamphetamine with intent to distribute.

Alleged Mexican Drug Cartel Leader Extradited from Mexico to United States to Face Federal Drug-Trafficking Charges

An allegedly high-ranking leader of one of Mexico's largest drug cartels, whose father allegedly heads a faction of the Sinaloa Cartel and is among Mexico's most powerful drug kingpins, was extradited today from Mexico to face federal narcotics trafficking conspiracy charges in the United States. Jesus Vicente Zambada-Niebla is believed to be one of the most significant Mexican drug defendants extradited from Mexico to the United States since Osiel Cardenas Guillen, the accused leader of the notorious Gulf Cartel, was extradited in 2007.

METH LAB FOUND IN HILMAR

A bizarre shrine dedicated to a macabre deity of death greeted investigators who reported finding a small methamphetamine operation inside a residence Wednesday. Merced County sheriff's deputies discovered the meth operation at a home in the 19000 block of First Street. (Read more)

NEW YORK-BASED COCAINE SUPPLIER TO STAMFORD DEALER PLEADS GUILTY

The U.S. Department of Justice's Drug Enforcement Administration's Boston Field Office issued the following press release:
Steven W. Derr, Special Agent in Charge of the Drug Enforcement Administration for New England and Nora R. Dannehy, United States Attorney for the District of Connecticut, announced that CARLOS MARTE SANTOS, also known as "Julio Cesar Santos," "Cesar" and "Shorty," 38, a citizen of the Dominican Republic last residing in the Bronx, New York, pleaded guilty today before United States District Judge Christopher F. Droney in Hartford to one count of conspiring to distribute 50 grams or more of cocaine base ("crack cocaine") and a quantity of powder cocaine.

Response to FY07 HIDTA-Related Budget Recommendations

Office of National Drug Control Policy (ONDCP) Director John Walters has proposed transferringthe High Intensity Drug Trafficking Area (HIDTA) program from ONDCP’s Office of State and Local Affairs (OSLA) to the U.S. Department of Justice (DOJ).  He has also recommended reducing funding from the FY06 level of $227 million to $208 million.  These talking points address some ofthe reasons why the program should remain at ONDCP, and why these proposals have beenmet with strong opposition throughout the Nation.

February 22, 2006


BACKGROUNDER: Fiscal Year 2006 Drug Control Budget Funding Cuts

On March 10th, 2005, the Subcommittee on Criminal Justice, Drug Policy and Human Resources held a hearing entitled “Fiscal Year 2006 Drug Control Budget and the Byrne Grants, HIDTA, and other law enforcement programs: Are we jeopardizing federal, state and local cooperation?” (http://reform.house.gov/CJDPHR/)

May 23, 2005


SENATORS UNITE TO SAVE DRUG-FIGHTING PROGRAM

U.S. Sens. Max Baucus (D-Mont.) and Charles Grassley (R-Iowa) were joined today by 54 other senators in fighting to stave off Bush Administration cuts to a program that helps law enforcement officials fight back against illicit drugs -- especially methamphetamines -- in communities across the country.

April 20, 2005


Hoyer and Representatives Reject President’s Inadequate Request for HIDTA Funding

Congressman Steny H. Hoyer (D-MD) today joined a bipartisan group of lawmakers in sending a letter to the Chairmen and Ranking Members of the House Appropriations Committee and Subcommittee on Science, State, Justice, and Commerce urging the Committees to restore full funding to the High Intensity Drug Trafficking Areas (HIDTA) program.

April 13, 2005


NNOAC Insight -- HIGH INTENSITY DRUG TRAFFICKING AREA FUNDING

The National Narcotic Officers Associations Coalition strongly supports the funding and continued congressional support for the High Intensity Drug Trafficking Area Program (HIDTA), within the Office of National Drug Control Policy.  In 1988, Congress initiated an effort to aid federal, state and local law enforcement by establishing the HIDTA program as a means of providing coordination of enforcement efforts in critical regions of the country.  This coordinated effort was critical due to competing strategies within the federal, state, and local law enforcement community.