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Sen. McConnell announces success identifying NKY as ‘high drug trafficking’ area, securing federal help

Sen. McConnell at NKY Children's Home earlier this year, addressing drug epidemic

Sen. McConnell at NKY Children’s Home earlier this year, addressing drug epidemic

U.S. Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell announced today that the Office of National Drug Control Policy (ONDCP) Director Michael Botticelli informed him that due to the magnitude of the drug threats, Boone, Campbell and Kenton Counties have been included in the Ohio High Intensity Drug Trafficking Area (HIDTA), a designation sought by the counties and Senator McConnell.

The designation allows NKY counties to leverage federal resources to combat its drug problem.

Earlier this year, Senator McConnell contacted Director Botticelli to advocate for HIDTA designations on behalf of Boone, Campbell and Kenton Counties under Ohio HIDTA.

Last year, Senator McConnell welcomed Director Botticelli to Kenton County so he could see firsthand how Northern Kentucky has been devastated by the drug epidemic plaguing our country.

“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,” Senator McConnell said. “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.”

Drug Strike Force benefits

Chris Conners, director of the Northern Kentucky Drug Strike Force, agreed about the importance of the designation.

“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,” Conners said. “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.”


Kim Moser, executive director of the NKY Office of Drug Control Policy said the designation was a “high priority” for her.

“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,” said Moser.

“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.”

The region’s Judge/Executives agreed:

“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.

McConnell has raised awareness of the issue of prescription drug abuse by working closely with federal, state and local medical authorities, treatment centers, and law-enforcement offices.

Earlier this year, as Senate Majority Leader, McConnell made passing the Comprehensive Addiction and Recovery Act (CARA) – introduced by Senator Rob Portman (R-OH) – a top priority. The bill is a comprehensive approach to tackling the prescription opioid and heroin epidemic. It bolsters treatment, recovery, and law enforcement tools to help those already suffering with addiction and will help prevent more senseless loss of life. CARA was signed into law in July.

In April of 2015, Director Botticelli accompanied Senator McConnell to Kentucky to see the effects of drug abuse on Kentuckians.

Sen. McConnell and

Sen. McConnell and ONDCP Director Botticelli in NKY last year

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.

In early 2014, he convened a listening session in Boone County to hear from local stakeholders in the medical, public health, and law-enforcement fields on the impact of the heroin and prescription drug abuse in Kentucky communities. Soon after the listening session, he testified before the Senate Drug Caucus to share his findings with Senate colleagues.

In 2011, Senator McConnell brought the then-National Drug Control Policy Director, Gil Kerlikowske, to Kentucky to witness firsthand the scope of the problem. He also successfully fought for the expansion of Appalachia HIDTA to hard-hit Jefferson County in 2009, Hardin County in 2012 and Madison and Nelson Counties in 2014.

McConnell has also worked to secure federal grants for many community prevention and treatment efforts, and helped to successfully convince the FDA to take an important step toward limiting the abuse of generic crushable prescription pain pills.

From Sen. McConnell’s office

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