Erie joins 4 other western PA counties in heightened effort to combat drug trafficking and reduce the supply of illegal drugs
PITTSBURGH – Acting United States Attorney Stephen R. Kaufman announced today that Erie County has been officially designated as a High Intensity Drug Trafficking Area (HIDTA) by the White House’s Office of National Drug Control Policy. Erie joins four other western Pennsylvania counties – Allegheny, Beaver, Washington, and Westmoreland – in receiving dedicated federal resources to coordinate federal, state and local governments to fight drug trafficking and abuse.
“Through this designation, Erie County will receive critical resources and support to disrupt and dismantle major drug trafficking organizations operating in the county,” said Acting U.S. Attorney Kaufman.
According to Acting U.S. Attorney Kaufman, Erie County has been used by drug traffickers as a waypoint for the large-scale distribution of heroin, fentanyl, cocaine and methamphetamine into Erie and the surrounding counties in Pennsylvania and New York. Drug dealers exploit Erie’s easy access by train, bus and interstate highway to Cleveland, Pittsburgh, Buffalo, Detroit, and Chicago by utilizing the county as a repackaging hub for further distribution of their product and to funnel drug proceeds back through the supply line.
“The HIDTA designation and award of funds is most welcome here,” said Erie County District Attorney Jack Daneri. “While local law enforcement has unitized its resources efficiently fighting drug trafficking in our region, it seems like there’s always more to be done. Federal funding gives us the opportunity to increase the fight against the harm we’ve all seen done by drugs in our community.”
“The Pennsylvania State Police has participated in other HIDTA designated counties in Western Pennsylvania with great success,” added the Pennsylvania State Police. “Our agency looks forward to working with other local, state, and federal partners through the HIDTA program to disrupt drug trafficking organizations affecting Erie County and all of Pennsylvania.”
“The Erie Police Department is pleased to learn of the Erie-area’s HIDTA designation,” said City of Erie Police Chief Dan Spizarny. “We have supported the application for HIDTA and look forward to the continued close cooperation of all law enforcement in our area. The extra resources that HIDTA brings to the table will help greatly.”
“The designation of Erie as a HIDTA county will bring federal funding, increased sharing of intelligence, analytical support, enhanced training opportunities, and a cooperative effort between the local, state and federal partners,” said Derek M. Siegle, Executive Director of the Ohio HIDTA.
Acting U.S. Attorney Kaufman thanked Pennsylvania’s United States Senators Robert Casey and Pat Toomey, Governor Tom Wolf, Rep. Erie County District Attorney Jack Daneri, the Department of Homeland Security/Homeland Security Investigations, the Pennsylvania State Police, the Drug Enforcement Administration, the U.S. Postal Inspection Service, the Federal Bureau of Investigation, as well as local law enforcement who supported and worked in concert to receive this designation.
Erie County is the most northwestern county in the Western District of Pennsylvania, with an estimated population of 280,566. The County borders Lake Erie and consists of the City of Erie, surrounding suburbs, and outlying municipalities. Erie County joins the program’s Ohio HIDTA region.
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