Thursday, March 14, 2019

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Dutchess County Drug Task Force made over 200 arrests in 2018

POUGHKEEPSIE – Dutchess County District Attorney William Grady released the 2018 statistics for the county's Drug Task Force which shows that heroin and prescription painkillers are still a major problem in the county.

The task force made 212 arrests in 2018, 163 of which were charged with felonies. The multi-agency unit seized over nine pounds of heroin, more than seven pounds of cocaine, over 5,000 Oxycontin pills and more than 650 pounds of marijuana. 

In addition to the drugs, officers took possession of 11 vehicles, 60 handguns, assault weapons, rifles, and shotguns, the DA said.

Some $136,000 in cash was seized and, according to Grady, "under the Assets Forfeiture Law, monies made through illegal drug sales can be obtained by the county for crime prevention and enhancement of law enforcement efforts in the county by purchasing equipment that would otherwise be unaffordable by individual police agencies."  Grady also noted that since he started the task force 1987, over $1 million has been seized and forfeited by convicted offenders.

The highly trained narcotics investigative unit consists of officers from several different police agencies in the county. 

Prior to its inception, the "drug enforcement was handled by various agencies with varying degrees of success, depending on the training of the officers involved.  Almost always, narcotics dealing and use extended beyond each agency's town, village and city boundaries.  It was clear to me that there had to be a better way to address what was clearly a countywide problem" said Grady. 

The DA met with local law enforcement from several municipalities and developed the task force, for which the county provided funding for the administrative aspects while the participating police departments paid the salaries, including overtime for the officers assigned to the unit. 

In the past few years, Dutchess County Executive Marcus Molinaro developed a "shared services" funding program that helps offset costs that individual municipalities were paying.  Through the program, the towns are reimbursed for their department's participation. "Our shared Drug Task Force leverages the very best from multiple police departments to crack down on drug trafficking.  This shared service, funded, in part, by county government has enhanced public safety while local taxpayers significantly,” said Molinaro.

DA Grady said that "in the 1970s the narcotic of choice was heroin; in the 1980s it was cocaine and crack.  Over the past several years it has been predominately prescription opioids with a reintroduction of heroin mixed with Fentanyl."  The unit has also investigated 100 fatal heroin overdoses, seven of which resulted in federal arrests through an ongoing partnership with state and federal law enforcement, according to Grady.  The District Attorney said that the task force also interviewed 230 non-fatal overdose cases as a proactive approach to identifying the drug suppliers before the problem spreads.


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