COUNTY POLICE MAKE PROGRESS IN CONTROLLING FENTANYL DISTRIBUTION IN WESTCHESTER

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Narcotics Reduction Program targeted large-scale fentanyl suppliers, sought to address rising overdose deaths in Westchester

WPCNR POLICE GAZETTE. From the Westchester County Department of Communications. May 19, 2022:

Beginning in June 2020, in response to the opioid epidemic and a rising number of overdose deaths, Westchester County Police launched a Narcotics Reduction Program that targeted large-scale suppliers of fentanyl and other illegal narcotics.

By leveraging the resources of the multi-agency Real Time Crime Center, collaborating with federal law enforcement partners, and utilizing precision policing strategies, the Narcotics Reduction Program has led to the seizure of significant quantities of fentanyl and fentanyl-laced pills and cocaine. Several dozen suspects have been charged by federal prosecutors with significant drug-trafficking crimes.

“Fentanyl is deadly, even in the smallest amounts. Its presence in a variety of illegal narcotics is a leading contributor to the overdose deaths we have seen in Westchester,” County Executive George Latimer said. “Reducing the flow of fentanyl into our County is literally a way we can save lives.”

Latimer said the County is focused on getting drug treatment to low-level drug offenders while targeting criminal investigations toward those who manufacture and distribute fentanyl and other narcotics in large quantities.  

“Instead of investing time and effort arresting low-level users, most of whom would benefit more from treatment than incarceration, we have been able to leverage law enforcement intelligence and shared resources to directly target so-called ‘bigger fish,’ ” Latimer said.

Commissioner Thomas A. Gleason of the Westchester County Police said that the Narcotics Reduction Program utilizes investigators assigned to the Real Time Crime Center; detectives assigned to the County Police Narcotics Unit; federal agents from multiple agencies; and Patrol officers from the County Police Conditions Unit.

He said since June of 2020, investigators from the Real Time Crime Center have initiated narcotics cases that led to the seizure of:

·         453,422 bags of fentanyl packaged for individual sale;

·         94 kilograms of fentanyl packaged in bulk;

·         863 fentanyl pressed pills disguised as real prescription medication;

·         66 kilograms of cocaine;

·         41 vehicles equipped with aftermarket hidden compartments, and

·         27 firearms.

“Using cutting edge, precision-policing tactics that RTC has developed, as well as establishing a deliberate focus on inter-agency collaboration and intelligence sharing, the Narcotics Reduction Program has resulted in record breaking success,” Gleason said. “We would not be seeing these results without the invaluable assistance of our federal partners.”

Gleason thanked the Federal Bureau of Investigation, Drug Enforcement Administration, Department of Homeland Security and the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Southern District of New York for its partnership in the Narcotics Reduction Program.

“Because Narcotics Reduction Program arrests are predominantly prosecuted at the federal level, and because one investigation is often connected to another, the County Police are not able to share the fruits of this program on a day-to-day basis,” Gleason said. “We wanted to provide this update to the public to ensure them that we are hard at work, and very successfully at work, in the effort to keep fentanyl out of our communities.”

Gleason noted that the County Police also continue to work collaboratively with local law enforcement and the Westchester County District Attorney’s Office on narcotics investigations.

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