Drug traffic label could bring more U.S. help

Local officials attempting to counter the effects of addiction have their sights set on being identified as a High Intensity Drug Trafficking Area by the federal government, a designation that could bring with it money to boost efforts in law enforcement, education and prevention.

Twice in the last two years, local officials have missed in the effort to impress on federal officials why the area deserves to be added to the 28 others around the United States that carry the high intensity drug trafficking label.

The Northwest Virginia Regional Drug Task Force has applied this year in the hopes of being included in the current Washington-Baltimore zone that covers Loudoun, Prince William, Arlington and Fairfax counties and Alexandria, along with parts of Maryland and Washington, D.C. The decision will be made by the White Office of National Drug Control Policy.

Lauren Cummings, executive director of the Northern Shenandoah Valley Substance Abuse Coalition, said she believes this year’s effort has a good chance of success, although it may be months before a decision is reached.

Cummings said money coming from the program could be used to help law enforcement in intelligence gather activities and schools in drug education and prevention efforts.

The drug task force’s application limits the high drug trafficking designation to Frederick, Shenandoah and Warren counties, although surrounding counties will also benefit from the additional money going into intelligence-gathering activities and education and prevention efforts in the schools, Cummings said.

“We really hope we’re designated so we’ll be able to use those resources locally,” Cummings said.

Contact staff writer Joe Beck at 540-465-5137 ext. 142, or jbeck@nvdaily.com