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Harder Pushes for More Funding to Fight Drug Trafficking in Central Valley

WASHINGTON – After discussions with Stanislaus County Sheriff Jeff Dirkse, Representative Josh Harder (CA-10), in a letter, has asked the Office of National Drug Control Policy (ONDCP) to increase federal funding to support local efforts to fight drug trafficking. Although the Central Valley High Intensity Drug Trafficking Area (HIDTA) has seen methamphetamine-related fatality rates more than double in less than a decade and an over 20 percent increase in heroin seizures in one year, the region receives some of the lowest HIDTA funding in the country.

“The Valley is left behind by Washington and Sacramento all the time – and one of the worst instances of that is our funding to fight drug trafficking,” said Rep. Harder. “Our kids are at risk and we’ve got drug pushers running drugs up and down the I-5 and the 99 – it’s time to get our fair share of funding to help the Sheriff and other law enforcement to stop this problem.”

“The Central Valley of California is a major drug shipment corridor for a huge portion of the drugs impacting our state, region and country. As the Stanislaus County Sheriff, I have dedicated significant resources to our HIDTA Task Force to combat this illegal activity,” said Stanislaus County Sheriff Jeff Dirkse.“While our team has been very successful, the lack of Federal resources is negatively affecting our ability to have a greater impact. A better, more robustly funded HIDTA will allow all of the Central Valley HIDTA initiatives to better serve our communities. I’d like to thank Congressman Harder for his support of law enforcement and our desire to better serve our communities. I appreciate him addressing this for us.”

Representative Harder is a leader in efforts to support the men and women of law enforcement. In addition to introducing and working to pass this legislation, Rep. Harder led an effort to increase funding for federal law enforcement programs, introduced legislation to help law enforcement interact with people with mental health issues, and cosponsored legislation to provide more bulletproof vests to local law enforcement agencies.

The text of the letter is below and an original version is available here.

Director Carroll,

Thank you for your leadership overseeing the Office of National Drug Control Policy (ONDCP). I appreciate the opportunity to work together to support law enforcement agencies in their fight against drug trafficking. I write today to advocate for funding for the Central Valley California (CVC) High Intensity Drug Trafficking Area (HIDTA) that is consistent with our demonstrated needs and brings it closer to the funding levels of other HIDTA regions throughout the country.

The CVC HIDTA is at the center of illicit drug production and sees a high level of drug shipments moving through the region. While HIDTA funds are used statewide, the need for increased federal funds in the Central Valley is particularly acute, as this area faces some of the most serious drug threats in the state and has become a methamphetamine distribution hub for major drug trafficking organizations. In Fiscal Year 2019, the CVC HIDTA received the third-lowest base funding and the fourth-lowest total funding of all twenty-nine HIDTA regions throughout the country despite being one of the most popular methamphetamine (meth) transportation hubs across the state with a 237 percent rise in meth-related fatalities.

These funds provide essential equipment, training, intelligence analysts, and services needed to successfully tackle drug trafficking. Since the establishment of the CVC HIDTA in 1999, meth remains the most significant drug threat to the region with the volume of meth seized averaging 2,700 pounds annually. Dismantling as many of these drug trafficking organizations as possible requires robust funding for CVC HIDTA.

Heroin is another long-term concern for the Central Valley region. The CVC HIDTA team are facing growing amounts of heroin in the area seizing more than 135 pounds of heroin in 2018 — a 21 percent increase from the previous year. This comes at a time when we expect a surge in cocaine trafficking and abuse in the region, which will require additional funding to address emerging areas of concern.

Given the immense work and coordination needed for the CVC HIDTA, it is critical that the region receives significant focus and funding that provides the Central Valley HIDTA more parity with the rest of the HIDTA regions throughout the country. I look forward to your response and how ONDCP plans to coordinate with the CVC HIDTA. 

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