U.S. Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) announced today that Boyd County in Kentucky has been chosen for inclusion in the Appalachia High Intensity Drug Trafficking Area (HIDTA) program. The HIDTA program provides law enforcement agencies in designated counties with coordination, equipment, technology and additional resources to combat drug production and trafficking. Boyd County is one of only 13 counties nationwide to receive new HIDTA designations this year.
On Monday, White House Office of National Drug Control Policy (ONDCP) Director James Carroll, Jr., in response to Senator McConnell’s advocacy for Boyd County, spoke with the Senator directly regarding this important announcement.
“Expanding the HIDTA program in Kentucky is a top priority of mine because of its remarkable record of success. The enhanced coordination and federal assistance that come with the designation will help keep Boyd County families safe,” said Senator McConnell. “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. 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.”
Earlier this year, ONDCP Director Carroll visited Kentucky at Senator McConnell’s request. As the Director saw firsthand during his visit, Kentucky has been especially devastated by the nation’s drug epidemic, losing more than 1,300 Kentuckians last year alone to drug overdoses. The addiction epidemic has hit families in Boyd County especially hard. In particular, Boyd County is suffering from an overwhelming number of drug-related offenses driven primarily by the influx of illicit methamphetamines, fentanyl, prescription drugs, cocaine and heroin.
“We are grateful to Senator McConnell for leading the national fight against the epidemic of opioid and substance abuse,” said Boyd County Judge/Executive Eric Chaney. “Senator McConnell’s stature helped convince the White House to include us in HIDTA and to take part in its work. Now, we’ll have access to new federal tools that can bolster the ongoing work of local law enforcement to save lives right here in Kentucky.”
“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.”
“Senator McConnell continues to support Kentucky law enforcement officers as we combat substance abuse and work to keep our communities safe,” said Ashland Police Chief Todd Kelley. “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.”
Today’s HIDTA announcement follows recent news that drug overdose deaths in Kentucky fell by nearly 15 percent in 2018 — the largest drop in our 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.