WHEELING, W.Va. — Bill Ihlenfeld, the outgoing U.S. Attorney for West Virginia’s Northern District, has an important message for his successor in regard to the opioid crisis.
“Whoever it is has to stay focused on this issue and continue to look for innovative ways to try to solve the problem,” Ihlenfeld said on Wednesday’s edition of “The Mike Queen Show” on the AJR News Network. “Whether we ever solve it or not, I’m not sure. At least reduce the threat and save more lives, and that takes a comprehensive approach.”
Ihlenfeld said his successor, who has not yet been named, will likely need to spend more time focusing on fentanyl and carfentanil, rather than prescription pills.
“The problems with prescription pills, while they still exist today, they really have leveled off due to changes in state and federal laws and increased law enforcement pressure,” he said.
Ihlenfeld said he isn’t sure who the incoming Trump Administration has in mind to replace him, but believes that person will have what they need to succeed in holding the opioid crisis at bay.
“The threat has gotten more dangerous, but we have more resources to deal with it,” he said.
Ihlenfeld’s resignation date is set for Dec. 31. He served in the role as U.S. Attorney for the Northern District for six years.
“Once I’m gone, that work’s going to continue,” he said. “Everything is going to continue to fire on all cylinders. The office is in good shape, and law enforcement is really strong in this area.”
“It’s been a great run. It’s been the most rewarding experience of my professional career. I’m really going to miss it for a lot of reasons.”
The former state prosecutor is a graduate of Ohio University and the West Virginia University College of Law.
“The time has come for me to step aside and let the new administration put their own U.S. Attorney into this spot, but I’m so blessed to have had the opportunity,” he said.
In the interim, Ihlenfeld is going to assist Governor-elect Jim Justice’s transition team.
He also hopes to continue working to fight the rise of heroin and other opioids in West Virginia as a private citizen.
Ihlenfeld announced his resignation on Monday.