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Clark added to HIDTA program

Clark County will have a better shot at combating illegal drug trafficking as part of a regional federal program.

Thursday, Clark, Nelson and Simpson counties were announced as new members of the Appalachia High Intensity Drug Trafficking Area, which covers about 90 counties in Kentucky, Tennessee, Virginia and West Virginia.

Clark County Sheriff Berl Perdue Jr. said being part of the HIDTA program is a big boost for drug interdiction efforts in Clark County.

“We’re very excited about it,” Perdue said. “We will be partnering up with Montgomery County and Powell County. We’ll do more drug investigations in Clark County. Working with them, it will keep a lot of drugs from being brought into the county.”

Perdue said a deputy will be assigned to HIDTA, as will other departments and the Kentucky State Police.

Appalachia HIDTA has been in Eastern Kentucky and neighboring states for several years, but has been expanding in recent years. Generally, they add two to three counties annually.

Being a HIDTA county means access to greater expertise, some funds for additional investigations and overtime, and better technology, he said.

“In the long run, you’ll have more forfeiture money coming back to the Sheriff’s Office and better access to technology,” Perdue said. “Now we’ll have a vast array of resources to use.”

Perdue said he has been working with U.S. Rep. Andy Barr and U.S. Sen. Mitch McConnell for a couple of years to add Clark County to the program.

“It’s been a long time coming,” Perdue said. “They’ve been building and building and pushing on our behalf for the last three years. It finally came to fruition.”

According to a statement from McConnell’s office, only 15 counties were added to HIDTA programs nationally this year.

“As long as Kentucky families continue to be plagued by addiction and substance abuse, I’ll keep working to deliver the federal resources and support to keep our communities safe,” McConnell said in a statement. “Kentucky’s law enforcement officers know the great benefits that come with the HIDTA program, and I was proud to help Clark, Logan and Simpson counties get these long-sought designations.”

“Throughout my time in Congress, I have made it a priority to advocate for increased federal support to end the drug epidemic that is claiming too many lives here in the Commonwealth and throughout our country,” Barr said in a separate statement.  “Clark County’s HIDTA designation is an important step to fight the drug epidemic, and I am confident that with the increased investment and collaboration from the federal level, Clark County’s drug enforcement and prevention efforts will be more formidable.”

About Fred Petke

Fred Petke is a reporter for The Winchester Sun. His beats include cops, courts, fire, public records, city and county government and other news. To contact Fred, email fred.petke@winchestersun.com or call 859-759-0051.

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