KEYSER - Federal funding which Mineral County is slated to receive now that the county has been designated a High Intensity Drug Trafficking Area will likely be used to dedicate a full-time deputy to the investigation of drug-related crimes.

By Liz Beavers
lbeavers@newstribune.info
Tribune Managing Editor
KEYSER - Federal funding which Mineral County is slated to receive now that the county has been designated a High Intensity Drug Trafficking Area will likely be used to dedicate a full-time deputy to the investigation of drug-related crimes.
The designation was announced Monday by the Office of National Drug Control Policy and was a result of an application submitted by sheriff Jeremy Taylor and county coordinator Drew Brubaker, according to county commissioner Richard Lechliter.
Taylor told the News Tribune Wednesday that “it’s too early to tell” how much money the designation will bring into Mineral County, but he does know it cannot be used for salaries.
What he can do, Taylor explained, is dedicate a current deputy to the Drug Abuse Task Force, using the federal funding for overtime, an undercover vehicle and/or equipment.
“I could then hire another  deputy to backfill that position,” he said.
One piece of equipment Taylor said would be helpful to local drug-related investigations is a device that downloads the contents of a subject’s cell phone.
“Now, we have to send it away to Charleston,” he said.
Lechliter noted that the initial funding could lead to additional federal money.
“If it’s used correctly, it’s almost automatically renewed for the next year,” he said.
Mineral County was one of 10 areas across Kentucky, New Jersey, North Carolina, Ohio, Pennsylvania, South Carolina and West Virginia to receive the designation, according to James Carroll, deputy director of the Office of National Drug Control Policy.
It is also the 22nd county in West Virginia to be so designated.
“Drug traffickers are fueling the opioid crisis and poisoning our communities, so we have to be relentless in bringing them to justice,” Carroll said. “This new funding will allow law enforcement to disrupt trafficking operations in key areas so we can save lives, strengthen our communities, and safeguard our country.”
“Mineral County is just one of the counties in our district that is seeing increased drug trafficking and its effects on its residents,” said United States Attorney Bill Powell of the Northern District of West Virginia, which handles numerous federal drug-related cases.
“This HIDTA designation will provide law enforcement more funding and resources so we can more effectively and efficiently address drug trafficking in Mineral County through our task force operations.
“Drug traffickers are fueling the opioid crisis and poisoning our communities, so we have to be relentless in bringing them to justice,” Carroll said. “This new funding will allow law enforcement to disrupt trafficking operations in key areas so we can save lives, strengthen our communities, and safeguard our country.”
The HIDTA program was created in 1988 and 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. Law enforcement organizations working within HIDTAs assess drug-trafficking problems and design specific initiatives to decrease the production, transportation, and distribution of drugs.