Hennepin county included in effort to combat drug trafficking


Federal, state and Hennepin County officials, including Hennepin County Attorney Mike Freeman, announced Wednesday that  a White House drug control office has named parts of Minnesota in its effort to combat drug trafficking.

The Office of National Drug Control Policy notified the sheriffs’ of Hennepin, Ramsey, Washington, Anoka and Dakota counties that they will be part of Wisconsin’s High Intensity Drug Traffic Areas, allowing them access to some of the $5 million a year it receives from the federal government.

“This state has, appropriately, lifted some penalties for low-level drug possessors, including those who are addicted, so we can go after high end folks,” Freeman said at Wednesday’s news conference. “We have been aggressive in prosecuting for murder the people who sell dirty heroin and the users wind up killing themselves. But we need to stop those who bring this crap into the state.”

Hennepin County Sheriff Richard Stanek said he has been working for 10 years to convince White House officials to give the Twin Cities Metro area the drug traffic area designation, but they kept saying there was not enough money. So this year, he proposed the merger with the already designated Milwaukee and Madison area. Freeman wrote a letter in support and the White House informed Gov. Mark Dayton three weeks ago that the merger was approved.

Minnesota law enforcement officials should be finalizing the initiatives in the next several months for cutting the flow of heroin and methamphetamine, in particular, into the Twin Cities, Drug Enforcement Administration Assistant Special Agent Ken Solek said.