OCT 18 (NEWARK, N.J.) –– The Office of National Drug Control Policy (ONDCP) announced that Monmouth County has been designated as a HIDTA County. HIDTA stands for High Intensity Drug Trafficking Areas. The HIDTA program helps federal, state and local authorities address emerging drug threats by coordinating drug enforcement operations, supporting prevention efforts and improving public health and safety. With this designation, Monmouth County will receive additional operational/intelligence related resources as well as funding to disrupt the trafficking of narcotics to include prescription opioids, fentanyl and heroin.
According to data collected in 2015 by the New Jersey State Police-Drug Monitoring Initiative, Monmouth County ranked second in New Jersey in marijuana cases, second in the state in prescription pill cases, third in cocaine cases, and fourth in heroin cases. Monmouth ranks sixth in the state for deployments of the overdose reversal drug naloxone, aka (Narcan®). Monmouth County has begun to see heroin mixed with potentially toxic adulterants such as fentanyl, which is exponentially more powerful than heroin, and presents a much greater risk of overdose.
“This designation will enable Monmouth County to receive federal resources to aid in the fight against drug trafficking in the county. It will also allow for the design of specific initiatives to decrease the distribution and use of drugs within the county,” said Chauncey Parker, Executive Director of NY/NJ HIDTA. Parker also stated, “There are currently 28 HIDTA’s in the United States, and Monmouth County would fall under the NY/NJ HIDTA region. Monmouth joins Bergen, Hudson, Essex, Passaic, Union, Middlesex, and Mercer who are already part of the NY/NJ HIDTA region.”
Carl J. Kotowski, Special Agent in Charge of the DEA’s New Jersey Division said, “The designation of Monmouth as a HIDTA county will allow for an increase in not only enforcement activities combating drug trafficking, but also an increase in community based educational programs. The men and women of the DEA have worked in the past with the Monmouth County Prosecutor’s Office and other law enforcement agencies in this endeavor, and are committed to continue to do so.”
“This designation is a welcome addition to Monmouth County law enforcement – a great force multiplier with our federal partners in our fight against the prescription pill and heroin epidemic,” said Monmouth County Prosecutor Christopher J. Gramiccioni.
Recently, based on a continuing cooperative effort between the Monmouth County Prosecutor’s Office and the New Jersey Division of the Drug Enforcement Administration, a Monmouth County based DEA HIDTA Task Force collocated at the Monmouth County Prosecutor’s Offices was recently formed. This initiative came in response to the significant increase in heroin use, overdoses, and trafficking in Monmouth County, and attempts to supplement limited county and municipal resources. It is hoped that this effort as well as the recent HIDTA designation will facilitate the flow of federal resources in support of local investigations as trafficking organizations continue grow in number, complexity, and geographic reach.
HIDTA was created by Congress with the Anti-Drug Abuse Act of 1988, and provides assistance to Federal, state, local, and tribal law enforcement agencies operating in areas determined to be critical drug-trafficking regions of the United States.