Merkley, Wyden Announce Federal Designation of Lane County and Warm Springs Reservation

Oregon’s Senators Jeff Merkley and Ron Wyden announced today that the Federal Government has designated Lane County and the Warm Springs Reservation as High Intensity Drug Trafficking Areas (HIDTA).  Because of the HIDTA designation, both areas will become eligible for federal funding to help local, state, federal, and Tribal law enforcement agencies reduce drug trafficking.

“A report released yesterday by the state medical examiner’s office found that heroin caused the deaths of 127 Oregonians in 2009, the most in nine years,” Merkley said.  “If we want to prevent drugs from devastating our families and our communities, we need to crack down on the criminals peddling them.  This designation will give local and Tribal law enforcement the tools to do exactly that.”

“HIDTA is one of the most effective tools in the battle against drug trafficking, and I have long pushed to add Lane County to Oregon’s HIDTA team,” Wyden said.  “This is great news because it puts federal, state, local, and tribal law enforcement officers in and near Lane County around the same table, allows the sharing of information and resources, and makes fighting drug trafficking more effective.”

The presence of fentanyl-laced heroin has significantly increased in Lane County and was the leading cause of overdose deaths in Lane County in 2009, surpassing methamphetamine.  Tribal law enforcement authorities from the Northwest reported that 55 percent of gangs active on Tribal lands are involved with drug trafficking on the reservation or transporting to another reservation.

The HIDTA program helps foster collaboration between local, state, federal and tribal law enforcement agencies to enhance information sharing, and coordinate enforcement activities to reduce the supply of illegal drugs in areas included in the program.  

To be eligible for HIDTA designation, an area must have the following:

  • significant illegal drug production, manufacturing, importation or distribution;
  • law enforcement agencies that have committed resources to respond to the drug trafficking problems in the area; and
  • the need for a significant increase in federal resources to respond adequately to the drug related activities in the area.

Senators Jeff Merkley and Ron Wyden recently sent a letter urging the leadership of the Appropriations Committee to ensure that the HIDTA program receives sufficient funding for FY2011.  Read the letter here.