Casey: Drug Crime Report Shows Need for Federal Help

Report requested by Senator Casey released today; Casey Calls for Help from Department of Justice

WASHINGTON, DC— After a threat assessment was released on drug and gang crime in Eastern Pennsylvania, U.S. Senator Bob Casey (D-PA) called on the Department of Justice to provide additional assistance to local law enforcement to fight this growing threat.  The report was prepared at Senator Casey’s request by the National Drug Intelligence Center (NDIC).  

“The Eastern Pennsylvania Drug and Gang Threat Assessment 2011 has highlighted a regional crisis that cannot be ignored,” wrote Senator Casey in a letter to U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder.  “As this crime comes to Pennsylvania from across the borders of New York, New Jersey and Mexico, it is imperative that the federal government provide assistance to local law enforcement to target this imported crime that threatens our communities.”  

The NDIC Eastern Pennsylvania Drug and Gang Threat Assessment 2011 can be viewed here:

Senator Casey continued: “I urge you to provide any and all available federal resources to combat drug and gang-related crime in Eastern Pennsylvania.  In addition, I will work closely with the Department of Justice and law enforcement in Eastern Pennsylvania to support the coordination at the federal, state, and local level that will be necessary to combat this problem.”

Among the emerging trends outlined in NDIC’s report:

•    New York area drug trafficking organizations (DTOs) and gangs operate in nearly every drug market in Eastern Pennsylvania.  There are at least twenty nationally recognized gangs in the region, and each one is active in drug distribution.

•    In Philadelphia and Reading, Mexican DTOs dominate the wholesale cocaine market through a direct supply of cocaine from the Southwest border.  

•    Dominican DTOs and gangs are centralizing operations in Hazleton, where they have access to both drugs from the New York area as well as a wide distribution market in neighboring communities.

•    Cocaine and heroin trafficking are now the primary drug-related law enforcement challenges in Eastern Pennsylvania.  Heroin trafficking and abuse have increased sharply in recent years, with many youth in particular transitioning from abuse of prescription opiates to heroin because it is significantly cheaper and easy to find.

NDIC also makes several predictions about the future of the drug and gang threat:

•    Violence against law enforcement officers is likely to increase as gangs in Eastern Pennsylvania are using more firearms to carry out criminal activities.
•    New York area gangs are likely to move farther into the central and western parts of Pennsylvania.
•    The influence of Mexican DTOs and gangs is likely to increase in Harrisburg, Lancaster, and York.

The mission of NDIC is to provide strategic drug-related intelligence, document and computer exploitation support and training assistance to the drug control, public health, law enforcement and intelligence communities of the United States in order to reduce the adverse effects of drug trafficking, drug abuse and other drug-related criminal activity.

In January, Senator Casey also sent a letter to U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder calling for additional federal help to combat drug crime in Pennsylvania.  The letter highlighted recent reports of drug dealers from the New York City area targeting Northeastern Pennsylvania.  He also called for the reestablishment of the Route 222 Corridor Anti-Gang Initiative that targeted gang-related violence in Allentown, Bethlehem, Easton, Reading, Lancaster, York and Harrisburg.

Senator Casey secured $400,000 for the Lehigh Regional Crime Center in the Senate version of the fiscal 2011 Commerce-Justice-Science.  Unfortunately, appropriations bills were blocked at the end of last year in part because of earmarks and this funding did not go through.
The full letter to Attorney General Holder is below:


Dear Attorney General Holder:

On January 14th, 2011, I formally requested an expedited threat assessment of drug and gang activity in Eastern Pennsylvania by the National Drug Intelligence Center (NDIC).  I would like to thank you and NDIC for your attention to this matter and the timely completion of this important study.  As the Eastern Pennsylvania Drug and Gang Threat Assessment 2011 makes clear, drug trafficking and gang violence in the eastern portion of my home state present a serious danger.

NDIC’s report, compiled through interviews with local law enforcement agencies and the National Drug Threat Survey, reveals several alarming trends.   Most striking, the report confirms that Eastern Pennsylvania is currently experiencing an increase in drug and gang-related violence, even as overall violent crime rates in the region are decreasing.  While many law enforcement officials have noticed this violence in their local communities, never before has the extent and scope of drug and gang-related crime in Eastern Pennsylvania been so well documented.

Among the emerging trends outlined in NDIC’s report:

•    New York area drug trafficking organizations (DTOs) and gangs operate in nearly every drug market in Eastern Pennsylvania.  There are at least twenty nationally recognized gangs in the region, and each one is active in drug distribution.
•    In Philadelphia and Reading, Mexican DTOs dominate the wholesale cocaine market through a direct supply of cocaine from the Southwest border.  
•    Dominican DTOs and gangs are centralizing operations in Hazleton, where they have access to both drugs from the New York area as well as a wide distribution market in neighboring communities.
•    Cocaine and heroin trafficking are now the primary drug-related law enforcement challenges in Eastern Pennsylvania.  Heroin trafficking and abuse have increased sharply in recent years, with many youth in particular transitioning from abuse of prescription opiates to heroin because it is significantly cheaper and easy to find.

NDIC also makes several predictions about the future of the drug and gang threat:

•    Violence against law enforcement officers is likely to increase as gangs in Eastern Pennsylvania are using more firearms to carry out criminal activities.
•    New York area gangs are likely to move farther into the central and western parts of Pennsylvania.
•    The influence of Mexican DTOs and gangs is likely to increase in Harrisburg, Lancaster, and York.

The Eastern Pennsylvania Drug and Gang Threat Assessment 2011 has highlighted a regional crisis that cannot be ignored.  As this crime comes to Pennsylvania from across the borders of New York, New Jersey and Mexico, it is imperative that the federal government provide assistance to local law enforcement to target this imported crime that threatens our communities.  

I urge you to provide any and all available federal resources to combat drug and gang-related crime in Eastern Pennsylvania.  In addition, I will work closely with the Department of Justice and law enforcement in Eastern Pennsylvania to support the coordination at the federal, state, and local level that will be necessary to combat this problem. Thank you for your consideration, and I look forward to working with you further on this matter.


Sincerely,


                                                            Robert P. Casey, Jr.
                                                            United States Senator

cc: Mr. Michael F. Walther, Director of the National Drug Intelligence Center (NDIC)

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