U.S. Sen. Manchin, Dr. Rahul Gupta, US Attorney Ihlenfeld visit county; U.S. Senator Capito releases statement
WV Press Release Sharing
ELKINS, W.Va. – U.S. Senator Joe Manchin, D-W.Va., Wednesday joined Dr. Rahul Gupta, director of the White House Office of National Drug Control Policy (ONDCP), and United States Attorney for the Northern District of West Virginia Bill Ihlenfeld to announce the designation of Randolph County in West Virginia as a High Intensity Drug Trafficking Area (HIDTA).
Randolph County is the 24th county in West Virginia to be designated a HIDTA. The following counties also have a HIDTA designation: Berkeley, Boone, Brooke, Cabell, Fayette, Hancock, Harrison, Jefferson, Kanawha, Lincoln, Logan, Marshall, McDowell, Mercer, Mineral, Mingo, Monongalia, Ohio, Putnam, Raleigh, Wayne, Wood and Wyoming.
For years, Senator Manchin has strongly advocated for Randolph County to be designated as a HIDTA, which will deploy additional resources to the area and help support the coordination and development of drug control efforts among federal, state and local law enforcement officials. Regional HIDTAs also work closely with public health partners on strategies to prevent drug overdoses and drug use.
“I am pleased to announce that ONDCP has designated Randolph County as a High Intensity Drug Trafficking Area,” said Senator Manchin. “The drug epidemic has impacted every corner of our state and Randolph County is no exception. This new designation will support our local, state and federal law enforcement officers to ensure they have the support necessary to reduce the supply of illicit drugs like fentanyl, prevent overdoses, protect communities and save lives. Addressing our state’s drug crisis is one of my top priorities and I will continue to fight for West Virginia to get the resources we need to end this epidemic.”
In a statement released Wednesnday, U.S. Senator Shelley Moore Capito, R-W.Va., said, “A HIDTA designation means more resources to support local efforts and solutions that are already making a difference; and this designation for Randolph County will help local, state, and community leaders do even more to put an end to the drug crisis here in West Virginia. As a member of the Senate Appropriations Committee, I’ve worked hard to secure funds like those provided through the HIDTA program, and I will continue working with the administration and those on the frontlines here at home to finally put an end to this epidemic that has hurt so many across our state.”
Speaking in Elkins, Dr. Gupta said, “In his Unity agenda, President Biden called for a major surge to stop illicit drug trafficking while accelerating public health efforts to save lives. In my home state of West Virginia, Senator Manchin and public safety officials have worked to deliver on the President’s call to action by ensuring their communities get the critical resources and support they need to reduce drug trafficking and save lives. This HIDTA designation will help local law enforcement leaders hold drug traffickers accountable, prevent overdoses, and protect the health and safety of communities in Randolph County and across Appalachia. We look forward to a strong partnership as we work together to beat the overdose epidemic.”
In 2022, Senator Manchin sent a letter to Dr. Gupta pressing for additional assistance to combat drug trafficking in the Appalachian region. The letter outlined that despite the enormous need, no counties within the Appalachia HIDTA region received the designation. Historically about 30% of the county petitions to join the Appalachia HIDTA, which encompasses West Virginia, Tennessee, Kentucky and Southwest Virginia, are approved.
In January 2023, Senator Capito met with Executive Director of the Washington-Baltimore HIDTA Program Tom Carr and U.S. Attorney Ihlenfeld to discuss the HIDTA program and related initiatives throughout West Virginia.