U.S. Congressman Andy Barr (R-KY) hosted the White House Office of National Drug Policy (ONDCP) Director Jim Carroll --more colloquially known as President Trump's "Drug Czar" -- during a visit to Richmond on Thursday.
The congressman invited Carroll to Madison County to learn about the resources the sixth district has for drug enforcement and how Madison County and the sixth district are working to quell the opioid epidemic.
"The drug epidemic is claiming thousands of lives nationwide each year and has deeply affected the commonwealth. For that reason, I have made allocating resources to drug enforcement and rehabilitation for people in recovery a top priority in Congress," said Barr. "It was a privilege to welcome Director Carroll to the Sixth District to discuss the progress we have made in Kentucky on this issue as well as additional actions we can to further confront this challenge."
Barr and Carroll met with members of the High Intensity Drug Trafficking Area (HIDTA) Task Force, which is comprised of local law enforcement leaders.
HIDTA designations, which are made by the Director of National Drug Control Policy, enhance federal, state and local collaboration to stop drug trafficking and prosecute other drug crimes.
The HIDTA Task Force and Congressman Barr have worked together to secure four HIDTA County designations within the sixth district and include Madison, Montgomery, Powell and, most recently, Clark County, which was designated a HIDTA County in June of this year.
"It was an honor to be welcomed back to Kentucky by Congressman Barr to highlight the Trump Administration's unparalleled support for law enforcement and the HIDTA designations that enhance their work," Director Carroll said. "Under the leadership of President Trump, we have allocated record resources to both address the scourge of drug trafficking in communities across the United States, and to connect those suffering from substance use disorder with needed treatment. President Trump, Congressman Barr, and I share a deep commitment to combating the drug epidemic in the Sixth Congressional District, the Commonwealth of Kentucky, and our country. Working together, we are bringing drug traffickers to justice and saving the lives of those suffering from addiction."
The High Intensity Drug Trafficking Areas (HIDTA) Program, which is funded by ONDCP, coordinates and assists federal, state, local, and tribal law enforcement agencies (LEAs) to address regional drug threats with the purpose of reducing drug trafficking and drug production in the United States.
After meeting with HIDTA in Madison County, Barr and Carroll met with the Sixth District Recovery Working Group to discuss ways they can help individuals in addiction recovery and to highlight how the sixth district has taken a two-prong approach to the opiod epidemic -- focusing not only on drug enforcement and keeping illegal substances out of communities, but also how those who have became addicted are receiving the treatment they need.
Lastly, the pair met with the Univer sity of Kentucky research team, HEALing Communities, to learn about how the team is working to reduce overdose deaths by 40 percent.
UK was awarded an $87 million grant last year for this research.