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5 Minnesota Counties Labeled ‘High Intensity Drug Trafficking Areas’

October 19, 2016 06:42 PM

New help is coming to the Twin Cities in the fight against drugs.

Hennepin, Ramsey, Anoka, Dakota and Washington counties are being designated as "High Intensity Drug Trafficking Areas" by the White House, also know as HIDTA's.

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That designation opens the door to federal resources that will help coordinate drug control efforts among law enforcement.

Law enforcement won't sugar coat it, drug abuse is a growing problem in Minnesota.

"572 overdose deaths in Minnesota in 2015 alone," said Hennepin County Sheriff Rich Stanek.

That's an 11 percent increase over 2014.

But now, there is help.

The designation alone means immediately resources are multiplied.

"It's bad news for the bad guys they're not going to like it at all," said Stanek.

It also means the five metro counties join Wisconsin's HIDTA, and together could get more than $5 million from the feds to help fight drug abuse.

"We will be interconnected, we will know about things that are happening all the way in Chicago, to the southern borders, all across the country," said Stanek.

"We can only prosecute people if cases are presented well, this will give resources and dollars to go after some of the kingpins and the big drug folks," said Hennepin County Attorney Mike Freeman.

"We need to do everything we can to get ahead of this problem," said Carol Falkowski, a state drug expert. 

"We have never had such a serious drug abuse problem in this state. Many people think Minnesota is Lake Wobegon and we're somehow immune, but that couldn't be further from the truth," Falkowski said.

She says the drug problem affects everyone from law enforcement to public health and social services.

As to when we can see results?

"I would say immediately, immediately you will see results, because you will have that additional layer of cooperation between all the agencies," said Ken Solek with the DEA. 

Sheriff Stanek says Minnesota has been asking for years to get this designation, and get access to these federal dollars. After being denied many times, he says they are very excited to be a part of this now.

Credits

Jessica Miles

Copyright 2016 - KSTP-TV, LLC A Hubbard Broadcasting Company

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