In tandem with President Trump’s signing of H.R. 6, (now former) US Attorney General Jeff Sessions announced new Department of Justice (DOJ) funding awards aimed at curbing drug trafficking and supporting youth impacted by America’s opioid epidemic.
At DOJ’s first-ever National Opioid Summit, Sessions and Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein highlighted sustained federal law enforcement efforts to combat opioid abuse and related substance issues. DOJ’s nearly US$70 million investment, which closely follows the recent announcement of nearly US$320 million in grant funding by its Office of Justice Programs, is expected to bolster a variety of department divisions and initiatives. Specific disbursements include:
- US$34.6 million for the Office of Victims of Crime and Bureau of Justice Assistance, which funded 41 victim service sites and a technical assistance provider for the purpose of expanding services to children affected by the opioid crisis
- US$27.8 million for the Community Oriented Policing Services (COPS) Office’s Anti-Heroin Task Force Program, which funded 17 state law enforcement agencies to better probe the illicit distribution of heroin and prescription opioids
- US$7.2 million for the COPS Anti-Methamphetamine Program (CAMP), which funded nine state law enforcement agencies seeking to more effectively seize methamphetamine and shutter unlawful drug laboratories
DOJ officials also announced the formation of the Appalachian Regional Prescription Opioid Strike Force, which involves US Attorney’s Offices for nine federal districts in five states and DOJ’s Health Care Fraud Unit, as well as other divisions within the Federal Bureau of Investigation, US Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) and US Drug Enforcement Administration. The joint DOJ and HHS initiative will seek to improve the identification, investigation and prosecution of illegal prescription schemes in Appalachia and surrounding areas. The strike force will also rely on expertise from the US Postal Inspection Service, Internal Revenue Service Criminal Investigation Division and state Medicaid Fraud Control Units.