CHARLESTON, W.Va. -- Rep. Nick Rahall has asked the White House for more resources to help Southern West Virginia police fight the trafficking of prescription drugs.
The Democratic congressman is urging Office of National Drug Control Policy Director Gil Kerlikowske to support a petition from the Appalachia High Intensity Drug Trafficking Area (HIDTA), the West Virginia State Police, and local law enforcement to include Mercer County in the Appalachia HIDTA.
That designation would give police more federal resources and the ability to share information between federal, state, and local law enforcement personnel to fight drug trafficking, according to a Thursday news release from Rahall's office.
The Appalachia HIDTA is an federal program meant to coordinate drug control efforts among law enforcement agencies.
"The West Virginia State Police and local law enforcement authorities are working tirelessly to address a tremendous case load, but they are understaffed and lack sufficient resources," Rahall wrote in a recent letter to Kerlikowske.
Rahall wrote that Interstate 77 -- a north-south corridor between Ohio and South Carolina that runs through Mercer County -- is a major gateway into the Mountain State for the interstate transportation of drugs through Appalachia.
Mercer County has been linked to drug investigations along this corridor in several states, and even in Mexico, his letter says.
West Virginia counties already included the HIDTA program are: Boone, Cabell, Kanawha, Lincoln, Logan, Mason, McDowell, Mingo, and Wayne.
Kerlikowske is scheduled to speak in Charleston and Huntington on Friday as part of a tour through West Virginia and Kentucky. His trip focuses on the effects of prescription drug abuse in Appalachia.