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DEA to target heroin traffickers in Charleston-Huntington region


Charleston Gazette-Mail

CHARLESTON, W.Va. —The U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration will spend $500,000 on a program that aims to curb prescription drug and heroin abuse from Charleston to Huntington, agency officials announced today.

The pilot project targets drug traffickers that supply opioids to Kanawha, Putnam and Cabell counties. The DEA also wants to reduce the diversion of prescription drugs through discussions with doctors, pharmacists, drug wholesalers and manufacturers.

What’s more, the DEA seeks to forge ties with local community groups to raise awareness about the dangers of heroin and prescription painkillers.

West Virginia has the highest drug overdose death rate in the nation.

“By bringing together all of the resources of our local, state and federal partners, we look to loosen the hold this epidemic and illicit drug trafficking organizations have on the tri-county area,” said Karl Colder, special agent in charge of the Washington, D.C. field division.

The Charleston-Huntington corridor becomes the fifth region where DEA has brought its drug enforcement and prevention program – called the “360 Degree Strategy.” Over the past two years, the federal agency has started projects in Pittsburgh, St. Louis, Milwaukee and Louisville.

Kanawha, Putnam and Cabell counties have been hit hard by the opioid epidemic.

One day in August, 28 people in Huntington overdosed on heroin during a five-hour span. Two people died.

See more from the Charleston Gazette-Mail

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