The opioid epidemic is crippling our nation. Because of that, Attorney General Jeff Sessions held a press conference earlier today to announce new initiatives the department is undertaking to combat the opioid crisis.
According to CBS News, the Department of Justice and Drug Enforcement Administration are working together on this new effort. Sessions announced three new initiatives that they think will help combat what he considers “the worst drug crisis in American history.” CBS News shared what those three initiatives are.
- Investments would be made to state and local law enforcement partners in the amount of $12 million. This funding would help tackle the heroin and methamphetamine issues.
- They would restructure the DEA’s Field Divisions for the first time in nearly 20 years. This restructuring would also include opening a new office in Louisville, Kentucky.
- They will implement a new requirement for all federal prosecutors’ offices, which would require every district in America to designate an Opioid Coordinator who will customize their anti-opioid strategy.
During the press conference, Sessions said that these steps “will make our law enforcement efforts smarter and more effective – and ultimately they will save American lives.” He also gave more details on the new office to be built in Louisville, Kentucky.
“The current Louisville district office will now be the 22nd DEA Field Division, with about 90 special agents and 130 task force officers. This field division will cover West Virginia, Kentucky and Tennessee. These areas covered by this new division face similar drug threats, enabling this division to better focus on those threats.”
CBS News said the new division will be led by Special Agent in Charge Christopher Evans. He has served the DEA for more than 25 years. Acting DEA Administrator Robert Patterson added that this new field division and the restructuring changes “will produce more effective investigations on heroin, fentanyl, and prescription opioid trafficking.”
As far as the White House efforts go, Jeff Sessions said that White House adviser Kellyanne Conway would be leading the charge in combatting the epidemic. She will represent the administration’s ongoing efforts.
As far as Conway’s expertise in this area, the AG said she was “exceedingly talented” and she “understands messaging” of the crisis. CBS News reported that Conway has been in attendance at several of the White House’s recent events on opioid addiction awareness, as well as meetings of the President’s Commission on Combatting Drug Addiction and the Opioid Crisis.
This new announcement from Sessions comes after both the DOJ and DEA unveiled new measures earlier this month regarding federal prosecutors. These new measures allowed the prosecutors to charge people who traffic fentanyl analogues or synthetics as if they were true forms of fentanyl.
CBS News stated this means anyone who possesses, imports, distributes, or manufactures any illicit fentanyl analogue will be subject to criminal prosecution, as are those who traffic in fentanyl and other controlled substances. At the time, the DOJ said this move would “make it easier for federal prosecutors and agents to prosecute traffickers of all forms of fentanyl-related substances.”