County will be designated a High Intensity Drug Trafficking Area (HIDTA) by federal government


Washington, DC – Congressman Joe Kennedy III (MA-4), Senator Elizabeth Warren, Senator Edward J. Markey, and Congressman Bill Keating (MA-9) today announced that Bristol County will be designated as a High Intensity Drug Trafficking Area and become eligible to receive additional funding to combat opioid addiction. After Fall River Police Chief Daniel Racine raised the need for additional funds and support in early 2013, Kennedy assisted the Bristol County Police Chiefs in submitting an application for the HIDTA designation to Office of National Drug Control Policy Director Michael Botticelli. Shortly afterwards, all four lawmakers wrote a follow-up letter to Director Botticelli urging him to accept the petition.


“Families across Bristol County face the heartbreak of the opioid crisis every single day,” said Congressman Joe Kennedy III. “As one of the only counties in Massachusetts without the HIDTA designation but also a region that experienced one of the highest number of overdose deaths in recent years, the increased support from the federal government will be critical in our efforts to combat addiction. I thank Chief Racine and all of the Bristol County Police Chiefs not only for their leadership in receiving this designation, but for the lives their departments have saved as this crisis has gripped their cities and towns.”


 “Fighting the opioid epidemic will take hard work on the part of federal, state, and local governments working together with local law enforcement, medical professionals, and members of the community,” said Senator Elizabeth Warren. “This HIDTA designation is an important way for the federal government to support the efforts of our state and local law enforcement as they work to prevent drug abuse and stop trafficking in the region.” 


“Designating Bristol County as a High Intensity Drug Trafficking Area will help local, state and federal law enforcement agencies implement an aggressive response to the prescription drug and heroin crisis in the region and throughout New England,” said Senator Edward J. Markey. “This federal support will be a major help to Taunton, Fall River, New Bedford, Attleboro and other hub cities who are on the front lines of an opioid epidemic devastating all of New England. I thank my colleagues Senator Warren, Rep. Keating and Rep. Kennedy for their partnership in securing this designation for Bristol County and ONDCP for all of their efforts to combat this crisis.”  


“Drug abuse – from prescription drugs to opioids to narcotics – is an epidemic that touches every community in the country and we need to attack this pervasive problem from every front possible before it spirals even further out of control,” said Congressman Bill Keating.  “As a former District Attorney, I saw firsthand how effective coordinated efforts between communities, law enforcement, families, and other stakeholders are to addressing drug addiction.  By designating Bristol County as a HIDTA, we will be bringing federal resources into this coordinated effort, something that will be critical in the county’s fight against this epidemic.”


In their August 2015 letter, the lawmakers wrote that in recent years “the county has seen a rise in heroin “milling” locations within the county and surrounding areas.” They added that the county’s “hub cities of Taunton, Fall River, New Bedford and Attleboro are being used as centers to break down and package large amounts of heroin for street level drug sales.”


"When Congressman Kennedy called me and informed me Bristol County was being awarded HIDTA designation, I was not only elated, but relieved,” said Fall River Police Chief Daniel Racine. “This news could not be more welcomed and more important to the people of Bristol County. With overdose incidents, fatal and non-fatal, on the rise, my colleagues and I know full well we need federal resources to assist us in combating the drug epidemic. This epidemic has touched all of our families and all of our towns and cities. The overused adage 'it takes a village' is most apropos when it comes to addressing this crisis. I thank Congressman Kennedy, and the federal delegation, for their unwavering support during our application process."


About HIDTA:

Created by Congress in 1988, the HIDTA program serves as a catalyst for coordination among federal, state, local, and tribal law enforcement agencies operating in areas determined to be critical drug trafficking regions of the United States. Law enforcement organizations working within HIDTAs assess drug-trafficking issues and design specific initiatives to decrease the production, transportation, distribution, and chronic use of drugs and money laundering. There are currently 28 HIDTAs across the country.