Syringes used for the Cincinnati Exchange Project (Photo: Jane Andreasik)
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COVINGTON, Ky. – After a year in operation, law enforcement officials are calling an initiative to crack down on crimes related to heroin use in Northern Kentucky a success.
But they’re quick to point out that that more needs to be done to both eliminate heroin pushers and battle drug use in the region.
The Northern Kentucky Heroin Initiative was formed in March 2013 in order to identify, investigate and prosecute drug trafficking organizations and individuals trafficking heroin, which over the past few years has plagued the 67 counties in the Eastern District of Kentucky.
Investigations were conducted by both federal and local law enforcement agencies, including the DEA, the FBI, ATF and the Northern Kentucky Drug Strike Force. Police departments in Covington, Newport and Florence also took part.
“The Initiative stands as a model of cooperation between local, state, and federal authorities as we marshal our resources to combat this terrible and growing problem,” Kerry B. Harvey, United States Attorney for the Eastern District of Kentucky.
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Part of that has involved the U.S. Attorney’s Office dedicating additional resources to the prosecution of heroin cases and help local law enforcement address the explosion of heroin throughout Northern Kentucky.
Out of the 55 individuals charged federally in 2013 in Northern Kentucky with heroin trafficking, 35 were heroin Initiative cases. Harvey said 14 cases have concluded and they've all resulted in convictions.
“The Northern Kentucky Heroin Initiative has succeeded in targeting many of the most serious offenders who profit from the misery of heroin addiction,” he said.
In addition to putting criminals behind bars, Harvey said the Initiative has resulted in longer sentences for repeat offenders engaged in heroin trafficking.
This is due in part to the fact federal law generally results in significant prison terms, Harvey said. There is also no parole in the federal system.
Prison sentences in the previously mentioned cases have ranged from 24 months to 252 months.
While the efforts of law enforcement in combating this problem have been fruitful, but many pill seekers have turned to the use of heroin, Harvey said.
“Much more remains to be done as the Initiative enters its second year and we look forward to continued collaboration with our law enforcement partners.”