HUNTINGTON, W.Va. — Violent crimes and drug trafficking are the focus of a new working group made up of law enforcement officers, drug agents and prosecutors from West Virginia, Kentucky and Ohio in what’s commonly called the Huntington Tri-State Area.

“We’re fully committed to making sure that places like Huntington are returned to the safe places that we know them to be,” said Mike Stuart, U.S. attorney for West Virginia’s Southern District.

U.S. Attorney Mike Stuart

Joining Stuart are Benjamin Glassman, U.S. attorney for Ohio’s Southern District, and Robert Duncan, Jr. out of Kentucky’s Eastern District.

The working group, which also includes representatives from the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives, the Federal Bureau of Investigation, the Drug Enforcement Administration along with state and local officials, met for the first time on Feb. 9 in Ashland, Ky.

Going forward, plans call for monthly meetings to coordinate the sharing of information and resources.

Their work will include the creation of a “Top Ten” wanted list of violent criminals, Stuart said.

“This is exactly what we ought to be doing across the country — is not just working within the district that compromises my jurisdiction, but make sure we follow the criminals wherever they happen to be,” Stuart said.

“Criminals don’t pay attention to where state lines and state borders are. Criminals and drug thugs move back and forth with ease.”

In all, the cooperating districts include the cities of Huntington, Ashland, Ironton and Portsmouth.

The collaboration is part of the U.S. Department of Justice’s Project Safe Neighborhoods Program, a crime reduction effort which includes prevention, enforcement and re-entry efforts.

“Wherever these drug thugs and other troublemakers happen to be, we’re going to find them,” Stuart said.

“We’re going to prosecute them to the fullest extent of the law and we’re going to do the best we can to lock them up for a very, very long time.”

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