- The Washington Times - Wednesday, November 29, 2017

The Justice Department and Drug Enforcement Administration will realign resources to get a better handle on the opioid epidemic — establishing a new DEA field division that will oversee areas of the Appalachian region that have struggled with drug abuse issues in recent years.

The new division, based in Louisville, Kentucky, will be led by Special Agent in Charge D. Christopher Evans and oversee Kentucky, Tennessee and West Virginia.

Acting DEA Administrator Robert Patterson said the change, which establishes the agency’s 22nd field division, would help authorities better leverage their resources.

“By creating a new division in the region, this restructuring places DEA in lockstep with our partners in the area to do just that,” he said “This change will produce more effective investigations on heroin, fentanyl and prescription opioid trafficking, all of which have a significant impact on the region.”

The field division will officially open in January.

Mr. Patterson joined Attorney General Jeff Sessions at the Justice Department for the announcement of several new efforts to crack down on drug trafficking and opioid abuse.

The Justice Department also announced it will provide $12 million in funding for state and local law enforcement that will be used for drug investigations involving of heroin, opioid or methamphetamine.

Mr. Sessions also announced a new directive sent to federal prosecutors across the country, which will require each U.S. Attorney’s Office to appoint an opioid coordinator who will oversee the intake of all cases involving opioids, heroin and fentanyl. The coordinator will also be tasked with overseeing task forces that will identify relevant cases, organizing training for prosecutors on opioid issues, and tracking statistics on prosecutions in their district.

“These steps will make our law enforcement efforts smarter and more effective — and ultimately they will save American lives,” Mr. Sessions said.

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