A nonprofit publication of the Kentucky Center for Public Service Journalism

Boyd County one of 13 nationwide to receive federal program to combat drug production, trafficking

By Mark Maynard
Kentucky Today

A Kentucky county is one of only 13 nationwide to receive new High-Intensity Drug Trafficking Area program.

Boyd County is a participant of the federal program that provides law enforcement agencies in designated counties with coordination, equipment, technology and additional resources to combat drug production and trafficking.

An overwhelming number of drug-related offenses driven primarily by the influx of illicit methamphetamines, fentanyl, prescription drugs, cocaine and heroin have taken a toll on Boyd County, which is why Sen. Majority Leader Mitch McConnell advocated for them.

Sen. Mitch McConnell

“Expanding the HIDTA program in Kentucky is a top priority of mine because of its remarkable record of success,” he said. “The enhanced coordination and federal assistance that come with the designation will help keep Boyd County families safe.”

White House Office of National Drug Control Policy Director James Carroll Jr. visited Kentucky at McConnell’s request and saw the devastation that comes with the drug epidemic.

“When Director Carroll accepted my invitation to visit Kentucky earlier this year, he had the opportunity to meet with our law enforcement officers and see how our Commonwealth is at the forefront of the national response to this crisis,” McConnell said. “The Trump administration and this Republican Senate are united in our commitment to saving lives from the scourge of opioid and substance abuse, and we look forward to the vital benefits today’s announcement will deliver.”

Local law enforcement in Boyd County was appreciative of gaining the important designation.

“I want to personally thank Senate Majority Leader McConnell for his assistance in helping the HIDTA designation become a reality for us,” Boyd County Sheriff Bobby Jack Woods said. “This HIDTA designation is, in my opinion, the single biggest announcement that will make a major impact toward stopping illegal drugs in our region of Kentucky.”

Ashland Police Chief Todd Kelley echoed Woods’ comments.

“Senator McConnell continues to support Kentucky law enforcement officers as we combat substance abuse and work to keep our communities safe,” he said “His constant advocacy on our behalf has once again delivered results and helped us fulfill our mission. The HIDTA designation will help our team of officers protect the Boyd County community and continue last year’s decline in overdose fatalities.”

The HIDTA announcement follows recent news that drug overdose deaths in Kentucky fell by nearly 15 percent in 2018 — the largest drop in the state in more than a decade.

Programs like HIDTA are part of the comprehensive response between local, state and the federal government and played a role in the significant decline in overdose deaths.

McConnell has a history of working closely with federal, state and local medical authorities, treatment centers and law-enforcement offices to secure federal resources to help fight opioid and substance abuse in Kentucky.

Nearly half of all Kentuckians currently live in a HIDTA county through McConnell’s advocacy.

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