Today, Nebraska's Senator Ben Nelson applauded the Office of National Drug Control Policy's (NDCP) announcement it has designated Nebraska's Lincoln County as a High Intensity Drug Trafficking Area (HIDTA) county. That will bring new federal resources to Federal, State, local and tribal law enforcement efforts aimed at curbing the distribution of illegal drugs in a critical drug-trafficking region in the United States.
"I fully support the designation of Lincoln County as a HIDTA county, and firmly believe today's announcement by the Office of National Drug Control Policy will further enhance drug law enforcement efforts to combat illegal drugs not only in Lincoln County and the State of Nebraska, but across the United States," said Senator Nelson.
Lincoln County serves as the crossroads of Interstate 80 and U.S. Highway 83, both of which are major transportation routes for the distribution of narcotics across the country. The City of North Platte, included in Lincoln County, is home to the world's largest railroad classification yard where a high volume of railroad activity has made it an accessible target for the transportation of illegal substances.
In a press release announcing the designation today, the director of the Office of National Drug Control Policy, Gil Kerlikowske, said that Lincoln County will join other Nebraska counties including Dakota, Dawson, Dodge, Douglas, Hall, Lancaster, Madison, Platte, Sarpy, and Scotts Bluff Counties as part of the Midwest HIDTA.
"Drug use and its consequences stand in the way of raising healthy children, maintaining strong families, supporting economic prosperity, and keeping our communities safe," said Kerlikowske. "The innovative initiatives and support provided by the HIDTA program will play an important role in helping local authorities combat drug related violence and crime in Nebraska. Smart enforcement efforts like these serve as a key component of our balanced approach to drug control and complements the Obama Administration's emphasis on preventing drug use before it starts through education and providing treatment to those who suffer from substance use disorders."
In 2010, Lincoln County law enforcement agencies reported 69 violent crimes and 352 drug abuse violations and have been combating drug trafficking in the area. This railroad yard provides a mode of transportation for contraband traveling from the United States' coast to southwest border region. Additionally, six gangs have been identified in Lincoln County with ties to drug distribution which have increased the distribution of methamphetamine throughout the area (according to ONDCP).
In February, Senator Nelson sent a letter to David Barton, Executive Director of the Midwest High Intensity Drug Trafficking Area, noting the large amount of federal drug cases initiated in Lincoln County and encouraging the designation of Lincoln County as a High Intensity Drug Trafficking Area county.
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