Hoeven calls for more DEA agents
Sen. John Hoeven pressed the Drug Enforcement Agency to step up its support and presence in North Dakota Tuesday after a crime report revealed a spike in drug crimes across the state.
In a letter to Michele Leonhart, administrator of the DEA, Hoeven wrote that the agency “needs to do all it can to work with local, state and other federal officials to counter the increase in drug cases,” which were up 19.5 percent in 2013 over the previous year, according to a report released by state Attorney General Wayne Stenehjem.
“DEA has the expertise to help our local sheriffs and state agencies investigate drug crimes but unfortunately local officials believe they are not receiving adequate assistance from your organization,” wrote Hoeven, a Republican.In an interview Tuesday, Hoeven said he has been working with local law enforcement officials “for some time” to address the issue, though it’s only recently that talk has turned to DEA agents. “We want to be responsive to what they need,” he said, “and what they’re telling us they need is more DEA agents on the ground.”Hoeven didn’t have a specific number in mind, but said he would keep working with Stenehjem and local officers — particularly those in oil-impacted communities from Dickinson north to Williston and Minot.“Each law enforcement agency might have a different need,” said Ryan Bernstein, Hoeven’s chief of staff.Hoeven’s letter also comes a week after the release of the White House’s National Drug Control Strategy report, which highlighted the growing problem of drug crimes in western North Dakota.“New economic developments in areas with limited resources like those occurring in the Bakken oilfields of Montana and North Dakota are resulting in an increase in drug-related criminal activity that requires a multi-agency approach,” the report read.Hoeven said he is looking to hold a meeting soon with Leonhart to work out what number of DEA agents the state should have and where they should be located.