MANCHESTER, NH – The United States Drug Enforcement Administration announced on Tuesday that Manchester will be the fifth city in the Nation to initiate a comprehensive Diversion Control, Law Enforcement and Prevention “360 Degree Strategy” to help cities dealing with the fentanyl, heroin, and prescription drug abuse epidemic, and the associated violent crime.
DEA Special Agent in Charge Michael J. Ferguson announced this strategy to the during a public meeting at the Manchester Boys & Girls Club, along with Manchester Political and Community leaders, local, state and federal law enforcement, and medical professionals, substance abuse prevention and treatment experts.
“We must continue to find new and innovative ways to address the growing abuse of heroin and prescription drugs, and the violence that stems from the illicit drug trade,” Ferguson said.
U.S. Attorney Emily Gray Rice echoed Ferguson’s call to action.
“The 360 strategy brings together many agencies that have dealt with this problem separately, into a unifying, comprehensive and sustained effort to go after the drug distribution networks but also to make the communities resilient to their return,” he said. “We are proud to join with the DEA and our other community partners in announcing the 360 Degree Strategy,” Rice said.
She said the U.S. Attorney’s Office will continue to focus attention on identifying and prosecuting large scale drug trafficking organizations responsible for putting dangerous drugs on the streets of Manchester and other local communities.
“However, we know that law enforcement is only part of the solution. Efforts to limit drug diversion, educate the community, and improve access to treatment are all important parts of the overall solution to our state’s opiate crisis. We salute the DEA’s efforts to address this crisis in a comprehensive manner,” Rice said.
The DEA 360 Strategy is comprised of a three-fold approach to fighting drug trafficking and stemming abuse:
- Enforcement actions targeting all levels of drug trafficking organizations and violent gangs, supplying drugs in our neighborhoods.
- Diversion Control by engaging drug manufacturers, wholesalers, practitioners and pharmacists to increase awareness of the prescription drug and related heroin problem, and to push for responsible prescribing and use of these medications.
- Community Outreach by partnering with medical professionals, governmental and community service organizations to proactively educate the public about the dangers of prescription drug misuse and heroin abuse, and to guide individuals to treatment services when needed.
“The community outreach aspect may be the most important and critical to its long-term success,” Ferguson said. “We have to diligently continue to work on the most effective ways to talk about these programs in ways we’ve never done before in order to stop abuse, addiction and to save lives.”
The 360 Degree Strategy brings together many experts in substance abuse and prevention to address four key groups by engaging in dialogue, providing information and resources to educate young people about the consequences of drug abuse and trafficking:
- Parents/caregivers in the home
- Educators and the classroom
- After school organizations such as the boy and girl clubs and athletic associations
- The workplace
In the short term, the goal of the 360 strategy is to provide as much information as possible in many different forms to reach young people. Officials will work to form a “Community Alliance” that will comprise key leaders from law enforcement, prevention, treatment, the judicial system, education, business, government, civic organizations, faith communities, media, social services and others, to form the core of a long-term group that will cross disciplines to help carry the prevention and treatment messages to the local population during the critical post-operation timeframe.
In the future, DEA and its partners also plan to host multi-day summits to bring community leaders together to look for sustainable ways to address drug misuse and abuse, addiction, trafficking and the violence that accompanies it.
Partners will include the U.S. Attorney’s Office District of New Hampshire, New Hampshire Attorney General Office, Manchester Police Department, Makin It Happen Coalition, Manchester Boys & Girls Club, Partnership for Drug Free New Hampshire and many others.
“There is no neighborhood that is safe from the opioid epidemic-this is a threat to our Nation’s public health and public safety,” Ferguson said. “We all have seen what this insidious disease of heroin and fentanyl substance use disorder has done to many of our neighbors, friends, and co-workers. DEA’s 360 strategy will utilize every community resource possible to reach our young people so we can prevent that first time use and lifelong battle of addiction.”