Federal funds flow to Alaska for fight against illegal drugs
Alaska stands to gain a seven-figure shot in the arm of federal funds to help fight drug crimes, state and federal officials announced Friday.
At an Anchorage news conference, Gov. Bill Walker said the state is the last in the nation to be designated a High Intensity Drug Trafficking Area, qualifying it for federal funds. It wasn’t clear when those funds would arrive, after being drawn from a $250 million nationwide pool, but they are expected to be in the millions of dollars.
Walker spoke with KTVA’s Daybreak earlier Friday to discuss the initiative, as well as the overall results of this year’s legislative session.
“If we were super-charging it before, this is now turbo-charging our efforts,” said Jahna Lindemuth, the state’s attorney general.
Law enforcement officials says opioids and meth have contributed mightily to the state’s increase in crime, as drug overdoses have become the nation’s leading cause of death for people under age 50.
The move joins other partnerships, including a federal focus on violent offenders in Alaska and the state’s appointment of a dedicated drug prosecutor to handle trafficking cases.
Although the federal funds can’t be used for drug treatment, APD Chief Justin Doll said at Friday’s event that the state has allocated money to that task – offering the opportunity for a two-pronged attack on the drug trade.
“Anchorage is a hub for all the stuff that comes to the state and it is for illegal drug trafficking as well,” Doll said. “We are very interested in applying some focus to that and working with our state and federal partners on that, so I think it’s going to be good.”
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