- Associated Press - Thursday, January 8, 2015

WILMINGTON, Del. (AP) - Federal, state and local law enforcement officials have pledged to work together in a new collaborative effort to tackle drug crime in Wilmington and New Castle County.

The federal Office of National Drug Control Policy announced this week that the county has been designated as High Intensity Drug Trafficking Area, a label that could bring additional federal resources to help crack down on the illegal drug trade in Delaware.

“We’re all working together in a commonality of purpose,” U.S. Attorney Charles Oberly III said Thursday, adding that the cooperation envisioned in the new initiative is unprecedented.

With the designation, New Castle joins Chester, Delaware, and Philadelphia counties in Pennsylvania and Camden County, New Jersey, which already are part of the existing Philadelphia/Camden high-intensity area.

David Weiss, First Assistant U.S. Attorney for Delaware, said the designation features three independent but collaborative components: a “safe streets” task force led by the FBI that will focus on street gangs and violent crime; a drug trafficking initiative led by the Drug Enforcement Administration; and a fugitive task force overseen by the U.S. Marshal’s Service.

“We’ve never had this kind of joint, sustained, focused undertaking to deal with violent crime and drug crime in New Castle County and the city of Wilmington, Weiss said.

While previous task forces have come and gone, Weiss said the vision for the designated area is long-term collaboration that relies on information sharing.

“The idea is to do it on an ongoing, sustained basis, day in and day out,” Weiss said.

The high intensity designation includes reporting requirements on arrests, convictions, forfeitures and seizures to help officials gauge the success of their efforts. Jeremiah Daley, director of the Philadelphia/Camden HIDTA said, the various agencies will be accountable to one another.

“It’s a strategic approach rather than just a tactical approach,” Daley said, adding that with Interstate 95 and the Port of Wilmington, Wilmington is an important geographic junction for drug-related activity in Northeastern and Mid-Atlantic states.

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