ASHLAND, KY (WOWK) – In Ashland, U.S. Senate Majority Leader (R) Mitch McConnell held a roundtable discussion with some “big guns”: the nation’s drug czar.
The group’s discussion was not focused on COVID-19, but instead, the drug epidemic that has plagued the area since long before the pandemic.
We are not going to allow drug traffickers who want to prey on those that have an addiction and that’s where we draw the line.Jim Carroll, White House Office of National Drug Control Policy director
Boyd County was recognized as an Appalachian High-Intensity Drug Trafficking Area (HIDTA), a designation pushed for by Senator McConnell.
During the meeting, local law enforcement officials and the Senator spoke with Jim Carroll, the Director of the White House Office of National Drug Control Policy (ONDCP) on the importance of the designation.
This was a long process, it brings a lot of agencies and officers together to work under one umbrella.Todd Kelly, Ashland police chief
The pandemic has not been left out of this issue altogether. Senator McConnell says there have been several complications directly caused by restrictions due to the pandemic.
Suicide is up, drug addiction is up… the coronavirus created an exacerbation of this problem that we’re all talking about here today.Sen. Mitch McConnell, U.S. Senate Majority Leader (R)
Carroll also mentioned they are working to take care of both sides of the addiction epidemic. He says “the people that have an addiction, we try to embrace, we try to get them into treatment.” Carroll also says a “record amount” of funding will also be going toward drug prevention programs for kids.
Ashland Police Chief Todd Kelley says the financial support after being designated as a HIDTA has helped buy new equipment, technology, and improved coordination between the agencies.