Using a Comprehensive Approach to address the Drug Abuse Epidemic
The current opiate epidemic emerged several years ago and started with the abuse of opioid prescription drugs. At the time, the law enforcement community responded with both enforcement action and education. Laws were enacted to monitor prescriptions for these drugs, which has led to a decrease in the illicit access to these prescription drugs. Unfortunately, however, heroin and other dangerous opiate drugs have now emerged in our communities and are taking more lives than motor vehicle accidents and homicides. Our office has responded to this threat with several initiatives, including a Heroin Initiative, an Overdose Prosecution Initiative, the 2012 Statewide Prescription Drug Summit, and the formation of USA HEAT, an educational program focusing on the consequences of the epidemic use and abuse of these drugs. Robust enforcement of federal drug laws is a necessary component of a successful effort against this epidemic and has led our office to develop a comprehensive approach to fighting it.
Forging Partnerships to Combat an Emerging Epidemic
Our Heroin Initiative
This initiative is currently in place in the Northern and Central Kentucky areas.. It entails partnerships with local law enforcement and the increased use of federal prosecution for defendants who are trafficking in smaller amounts of heroin, when certain requirements are met. Normally, these traffickers would be prosecuted at the state level. This initiative provides enhanced, federal focus on the prosecution of individuals who are professional drug dealers, not addicts, and who have significant criminal histories..
Our Overdose Prosecution Initiative
In early 2015, our office established an initiative that has become an important tool in combatting illegal drug trafficking. Under federal law, defendants convicted of drug trafficking (Schedule I and II drugs), that results in a death or serious bodily injury (i.e., an overdose), are subject to a mandatory minimum sentence of twenty years or, if they have a qualifying prior conviction, a mandatory term of life imprisonment. This significant penalty has two practical effects on many drug dealers: (1) it gives them an enormous incentive to assist law enforcement in the investigation and prosecution of others and (2) it represents a potentially enormous deterrence for dealing drugs. The prospect of a minimum, twenty-year federal sentence is truly daunting for many.
Since its inception, the initiative has been the direct source of several prosecutions, including cases where we have been able to charge and convict not only the first-level dealer, but their source of supply as well. Indeed, this initiative has directly led to charges against defendants who are responsible for large quantities of very dangerous drugs and numerous overdose deaths in our community. In the cases we have prosecuted, we have had success in achieving long sentences for dealers and some measure of justice for the victims.
Examples of our Overdose Initiative Cases:
- United States Attorney and Lexington Police Chief Announce New Partnership in Fight Against Opiate Epidemic
- Versailles Man Sentenced to 20 Years for Distributing Fentanyl that Caused Overdose Death
- Lexington Man Sentenced to More than 30 Years for Distributing Fentanyl and Heroin Resulting in Death
- Detroit Man Admits Distributing Drugs that Caused Overdose Death of Madison County Man
- Versailles Man Admits Distributing Drugs That Casued Overdose Death of Woodford County Woman
- Lexington Man Admits Distributing Drugs That Caused Overdose Death of Pregnant Woman In Fayette County
- Covington Man Sentenced To 20 Years For Distribution Of Heroin Resulting In Death
- Clay County Man Responsible for Overdose Death Sentenced to Life in Prison
- Pulaski County Man Sentenced To 20 Years For Distributing Heroin Resulting In Death
- Lexington and Versailles Men Charged with Illegal Distribution of Fentanyl Resulting in a Death
- Cincinnati Man Pleads Guilty to Distribution of Drugs Resulting in Death
- Lexington Man Convicted of Distributing Drugs Resulting in Death
U.S. Attorneys' Statewide Prescription Drug Abuse Summit
Kentucky’s two U.S. Attorneys, Kerry B. Harvey and David J. Hale, in conjunction with the University of Kentucky, hosted Kentucky’s first Statewide Prescription Drug Abuse Summit, in February 2012. The one-day event was attended by more than 300 health care professionals, educators, public officials, high school students, and law enforcement leaders from across the state. The Summit focused on increasing collaboration across a wide array of disciplines to combat prescription drug abuse, one of the Commonwealth’s most urgent, destructive, and widespread challenges.
To learn more about USA HEAT, click here.
To learn more about Prescription Drug Abuse contact DEA Diversion Website. www.deadiversion.usdoj.gov