Chautauqua County has been given the designation as a high-intensity drug trafficking area, a label that could actually be helpful in the fight against drugs.
The President’s Office of National Drug Control Policy made the designation due to an increasing heroin issue in Chautauqua County. Sen. Charles Schumer announced the designation Monday, noting heroin-related arrests have tripled over the past three years in the county. He also pointed a rapid rise in drug overdoses.
District Attorney David Foley says the county is flanked by two major Interstate highways and within hours of major cities with major drug trades. Foley says his office is almost overwhelmed by the case load and decisions are made quickly on prosecution or plea bargaining. He says he is hoping there might be some money in the federal designation for more prosecutors.
"That has to be done very quickly. I have ten assistants, four are part-time, and we are opening up anywhere between 7,100 to 7,5000 cases per year. So, it's a 700 or 800 case per attorney load that we're talking about, which is just huge," Foley tells WBFO News..
Sheriff Joseph Gerace says the heroin problem affects families across the entire spectrum of the county. The sheriff says the problem boomed with Washington cracking down on prescription drug abuse and addicts switching to heroin which is cheaper and readily available.