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Casey Calls for DoJ Help to Combat PA Drug Crime

WASHINGTON, DC— In response to continuing drug crime in Pennsylvania, U.S. Senator Bob Casey (D-PA) today called for additional federal help to combat drug crime in Pennsylvania.  In a letter to U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder, Senator Casey highlighted recent reports of drug dealers from the New York City area targeting northeastern Pennsylvania.  He also called for the reestablishment of the Route 222 Corridor Anti-Gang Initiative that targeted gang-related violence in Allentown, Bethlehem, Easton, Reading, Lancaster, York and Harrisburg.

“I am writing today regarding the growing problem of drug-related crime in Pennsylvania,” said Senator Casey.  “As you know, drug dealers from large cities are often drawn to smaller cities to take advantage of higher profit margins and a relative lack of supply.  I look forward to working with you to identify funding opportunities and technical assistance that are available to state and local officials.”

On the reestablishment of the Route 222 Corridor Anti-Gang Initiative:  “The regional nature of this problem and the need for a unified effort to address it brings to mind the recently disbanded Route 222 Corridor Anti-Gang Initiative,” Senator Casey wrote.  “I intend to work with the United States Attorneys’ Offices to explore ways to revive this program in addition to addressing drug-related crime in other parts of the state.”

The full copy of the letter is below:

January 7, 2011

Dear Mr. Attorney General:

I am writing today regarding the growing problem of drug-related crime in Pennsylvania.  While I applaud the attention given to this issue by the Department of Justice in the past, crime and violence resulting from the illegal drug trade continue to take a grave toll on communities throughout the Commonwealth.

As you know, drug dealers from large cities are often drawn to smaller cities to take advantage of higher profit margins and a relative lack of supply.  Drug dealers from out of town sometimes stay for only a short period, but they are able to earn a great deal of money by distributing dangerous drugs of mixed potency.  Moreover, they can be difficult for local officials to track when they return to the larger “source” city to obtain more drugs.

This problem has been especially acute in Northeastern Pennsylvania, including my hometown of Scranton, which in December experienced its first homicide in 16 months.  Police say Michael Jackson of Yonkers, New York came to Scranton on December 3 for the sole purpose of selling drugs.  On December 23, he was found shot to death in a wooded area in Scranton.  Local law enforcement officials believe this case is part of a larger trend of drug-related violence in Northeastern Pennsylvania.

The regional nature of this problem and the need for a unified effort to address it brings to mind the recently disbanded Route 222 Corridor Anti-Gang Initiative.  Through the combination of federal, state, and local law enforcement resources, this concentrated effort reduced gang-related violence in Allentown, Bethlehem, Easton, Reading, Lancaster, York, and Harrisburg.  Without the Route 222 Corridor, these cities would have struggled independently to address a problem that is larger than any one city.  The Route 222 Corridor serves as an example of the results that are possible when national and regional law enforcement work together.  I intend to work with the United States Attorneys’ Offices to explore ways to revive this program in addition to addressing drug-related crime in other parts of the state.

In the interim, I would like to request a meeting between my staff and the appropriate Department of Justice officials to discuss what federal resources are available to aggressively combat drug-related crime in Pennsylvania.  I look forward to working with you to identify funding opportunities and technical assistance that are available to state and local officials.

Thank you for your time and consideration.

Sincerely,

Robert P. Casey, Jr.

United States Senator

January 7th, 2011 | Posted in Front Page Stories, Senate | 2 Comments

2 thoughts on “Casey Calls for DoJ Help to Combat PA Drug Crime”

  1. I commend Sen. Casey for raising the issue of increasing drug abuse, drug trafficking and drug-related crime in Pennsylvania. Increasingly, drug-traffickers and their organizations are operating farther away from metropolitan areas in order to avoid the scrutiny of law enforcement investigators, and to exploit the relatively untapped markets of rural and “ex-urban” communities. With their migration also comes the associated violence that has plagued larger cities for decades.

    The Philadelphia-Camden High Intensity Drug Trafficking Area (PCHIDTA)program, in existence since 1995, has recognized the potential for traffickers to “seek greener pastures” in Philadelphia’s suburbs. In 2008, with the support of the 18 member agencies of our Executive Board, we succeeded in persuading the Director of National Drug Control Policy to deisgnate Delaware and Chester Counties as part of the PCHIDTA, securing additional Federal resources to establish county-led Initiatives to combat escalating drug trafficking there. Both counties have had notable successes as a result of the combined federal, state & local efforts these designations, and accompanying resources, fostered.

    PCHIDTA offers law enforcement agencies in designated and non-designated counties access to criminal intelligence and information-sharing tools to assist investigators with the identification and targeting of drug trafficking organizations and gangs. We recognize the transient nature of the drug trade, and are contiuously seeing increasing needs beyond the metro Philadelphia area for more robust drug law enforcement.

    Unfortunately, program funding has been relatively fixed, and at the same time, agencies are suffering from fiscal woes of their own. Any new initiatives will require an influx of resources that are in critically short supply at present. Hopefully, Sen. Casey’s exploration of the problems Pennsylvania’s mid- and smaller sized commuities face from drug trafficking will casue more resources to be made available for sustained law enforcement responses.

    Jeremiah A. Daley
    Executive Director
    Philadelphia-Camden HIDTA

  2. Kathleen says:

    This is the height of hypocrisy. Casey has an F- rating (NumbersUSA) on illegal immigration. Were he to put the welfare of his constituents ahead of the unions and other special interest groups that profit from the presence of illegal aliens Pennsylvanians would be far better served and protected.

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