LOGAN, W.Va. — The key players in the High Intensity Drug Trafficking Area of southern West Virginia believe the concentration is working. Congressman Evan Jenkins (WV 3) on Thursday met with members of the HIDTA Task Force. Representatives included the Director Kenny Burner, U.S. Marshal for southern West Virginia Mike Baylous, Logan County Sheriff Sonya Dingess Porter and others.
“It has several counties, local law enforcement along with state police and federal partners,” said Jenkins. “It is working in southern West Virginia.”
The designation of a HIDA zone means additional federal dollars to battle against drugs is coming to the region. The money is earmarked for equipment, overtime pay, and to provide money for undercover officers to make drug buys and build a case against dealers in the region.
“It helps pay for the buys to bust up the network and it pays for the tools law enforcement needs that may be beyond a city or county’s budget,” said Jenkins.
Jenkins, from his position on the House Appropriations Committee, has been able to successfully steer the money into his district and hopes he can deliver more in the months ahead. The money is vital according to U.S. Marshal Mike Baylous, particularly for local law enforcement.
“They have so many unfunded mandates and so many daily tasks and duties, it makes it difficult for them to run a lengthy and extended type investigation you run into with these drug crimes,” Baylous said.
Jenkins, Baylous, and others agreed while more funding is always helpful, all of the agencies involved seem to be satisfied with the share of money they are receiving both from Washington and from the proceeds of money and equipment forfeitures. All agencies seem to have a close working relationship as well. Baylous said that is imperative to make the HIDA program work.
“There’s an excellent relationship among the federal, state, and local law enforcement,” he said. “We realize if we are going to be successful combating the drug crises in our neighborhoods, we’re going to have to work together.”
“What is great is you don’t have people saying they are not getting their fair share,” said Jenkins. “In fact, they say they are putting the money to work at the local level.”