U.S. Senate Republican Leader Mitch McConnell met with Drug Czar Gil Kerlikowske today in his office in the United States Capitol. The two discussed Kentucky's widespread drug abuse challenges, and Director Kerlikowske briefed the Senator on law enforcement efforts to reduce the production, trafficking and abuse of illicit drugs in the Commonwealth.
"As many Kentuckians know, drug abuse is one of the Commonwealth's most pressing challenges, and I appreciate Director Kerlikowske's continued focus on helping fight illegal drug use and production in the Commonwealth," McConnell said.
During the meeting, Senator McConnell also advocated for the inclusion of Hardin County, Kentucky, into the Appalachia High Intensity Drug Trafficking Area (HIDTA).
"Hardin County is the fastest growing county in the state and has endured a significant increase in drug-related crimes involving prescription drug, meth production and marijuana cultivation," McConnell said. "The inclusion of Hardin County into the HIDTA will result in local access to federal law enforcement resources and training."
Kentucky is losing more than 82 people a month to drug overdose and nearly 1,000 deaths were attributed to drug overdoses in 2009, more than those killed in motor vehicle accidents. In 2010, law enforcement responded to 1,100 meth labs across the state and Kentucky ranks as one of the top marijuana producing states in the nation. Prescription drugs, primarily opiate narcotics, are considered the number one drug related problem faced by Kentucky law enforcement.
BACKGROUND: Senator McConnell has advocated on behalf of Hardin County's inclusion into the federal anti-drug HIDTA program via letter followed by a phone call with Director Kerlikowske on July 19, 2012. Also, in February 2011, at Senator McConnell's request, Director Kerlikowske visited Kentucky to see first-hand the challenges posed by illegal drugs in the Commonwealth, from its most urban to rural communities.