For Immediate Release - October 08, 2014

AG Coakley Joins Multistate Task Force to Combat Northeast Heroin Crisis

Coalition Formed to Enhance Collaboration and Information-Sharing, Maximize Resources Among States to Address Heroin Crisis

BOSTON – In an effort to enhance coordination between law enforcement and utilize interstate resources, Attorney General Martha Coakley has joined a multistate task force whose mission is to combat the heroin crisis in the Northeast.

“We know all too well how heroin is devastating communities and families,” said Attorney General Martha Coakley. “We must find innovative ways to stop illegal drug trafficking and prevent these sophisticated networks from moving across state lines. This partnership strengthens our commitment to sharing information and resources.”

The mission of the Northeast and Mid-Atlantic Heroin Task Force (NEMA-HTF) is to provide a framework in which state attorneys general can work collaboratively and share information to combat the growing problem of heroin trafficking across state lines. This coordination will help target large scale distribution operations that often span state lines.

NEMA-HTF will be co-chaired by New York Attorney General Eric T. Schneiderman and Pennsylvania Attorney General Kathleen G. Kane. Joining AG Coakley on the task force is New Jersey Acting Attorney General John J. Hoffman and additional states are expected to be announced in the coming weeks.

“For too long, drug organizations have tried to outmaneuver law-enforcement agencies by crossing state lines. This task force will ensure that our borders do not become our boundaries,” said Attorney General Eric Schneiderman. “By joining together, we can prevent defendants from using state borders as a shield from law-enforcement and allow us to shut down the pipelines and cut off the heroin supply.”

“The drug dealers don’t stop at the state border, and with this partnership, neither will law-enforcement,” said Attorney General Kathleen Kane. “By sharing intelligence and other resources, we are taking this war to them, not waiting for them to infiltrate our communities. Today we are putting them on notice – we’re here and we are working together. You can’t hide by crossing the state line.”

“New Jersey is in the midst of an opiate crisis affecting countless numbers of our young citizens who are falling victim to addiction. In addition to our prevention, treatment and recovery efforts, we are executing major drug busts, in which a constant theme is that the dealers we are arresting are suppliers of heroin to other dealers in New York and Philadelphia, or they are getting their heroin from those cities,” said New Jersey Acting Attorney General John J. Hoffman. “In New Jersey, all levels of law-enforcement already are collaborating to target those trafficking this poison. The NEMA Heroin Task Force will maximize this collaboration across state borders.”

Heroin abuse is one of the most significant national public safety concerns facing law enforcement and public health officials today. States across New England and the Mid-Atlantic are struggling to cope with the drastic influx of the drug into their communities. The New York AG’s Office reports that, in the last two years, over 98% of the large-scale heroin trafficking cases they prosecuted have involved heroin flowing between New York and either Pennsylvania, Massachusetts or New Jersey.

In Massachusetts, heroin use and addiction has been on the rise and in March, Governor Deval Patrick declared a public health emergency in response to heroin overdoses and opioid addiction. The Governor’s Office reported at the time that the number of unintentional opiate overdoses increased by 90 percent between 2000 and 2012. Furthermore, state police report at least 200 deaths from suspected heroin overdoses in the last year.

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