Raleigh County receives funding for new drug task force - Beckley, Bluefield & Lewisburg News, Weather, Sports

Raleigh County receives funding for new drug task force

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On Saturday in Beckley Congressman Nick Rahall was joined by our top law enforcement including Raleigh County Sheriff Steve Tanner, Beckley Police Chief Timothy Deems and others in welcoming news about drugs in our area.

Raleigh County has been added to the Appalachia High Intensity Drug Trafficking Area, or HIDTA.

Congressman Nick Rahall explained what this is.

"When you have counties where there's major arteries like we have here in Raleigh County, where there's high traffic area like Mercer County where they come in from the south and Cabell County where they come in from the west, it's crucial you have additional resources," he said.

Beckley Police Chief Timothy Deems told 59News the last drug task force in this area was dysfunctional and disbanded five years ago. He said this will allow much needed collaboration between local, state and federal law enforcement officers in a new drug task force and allow for not only increased enforcement and monitoring but also education and prevention.

Raleigh County Sheriff Steve Tanner explained just how bad the pill epidemic is in Southern West Virginia and why these additional resources are so necessary.

"It's the number one killer of people under 25 years old now. We lose a person a day from drug abuse in Southern West Virginia. That's 365 days a year we lose somebody to prescription drug abuse. We've never faced anything like that and it truly is an epidemic," said Tanner.

Tanner believes HIDTA will have a positive success rate.

"This will significantly help. Anytime we can throw training and money into a problem, we're going to get a positive result from that," he said.