ShareThis Page
News

Western Pa.'s U.S. Attorney to head national heroin task force

Jason Cato
| Friday, April 17, 2015, 5:24 p.m.

Western Pennsylvania's top federal prosecutor has been tapped by the Department of Justice to help oversee a national Heroin Task Force.

U.S. Attorney David Hickton will co-chair the newly formed group with Mary Lou Leary, deputy director for State, Local and Tribal Affairs at the White House Office of National Drug Control Policy.

“We are in the middle of a heroin epidemic, a public health crisis,” Hickton said Friday, noting the cooperation between federal and local agencies in the Pittsburgh region. “We have taken the lead by trying to develop a full-spectrum answer to the problem.”

As part of his focus on issues surrounding heroin, Hickton established the U.S. Attorney's Working Group on Drug Overdose and Addiction: Prevention, Intervention, Treatment and Recovery. It is important to address the addiction side of the problem as well as the criminal side, “a two-front war,” Hickton said.

He said it is as important to dispel the stigma of addiction and to help addicts recover as it is to aggressively destroy drug trafficking operations.

“This problem is a very comprehensive and very complicated law enforcement and public health challenge,” Hickton said. “We cannot prosecute or incarcerate our way out of this problem. But we are giving no quarter in our prosecution.”

The task force, established by federal Attorney General Eric Holder, will meet April 28 in Washington. Federal agency experts from law enforcement, medicine, public health and educational fields will attend to explore a coordinated response to the national heroin problem.

The task force and its committees will formulate a strategic plan to be submitted by year's end to Congress and President Obama.

Jason Cato is a staff writer for Trib Total Media.

TribLIVE commenting policy

You are solely responsible for your comments and by using TribLive.com you agree to our Terms of Service.

We moderate comments. Our goal is to provide substantive commentary for a general readership. By screening submissions, we provide a space where readers can share intelligent and informed commentary that enhances the quality of our news and information.

While most comments will be posted if they are on-topic and not abusive, moderating decisions are subjective. We will make them as carefully and consistently as we can. Because of the volume of reader comments, we cannot review individual moderation decisions with readers.

We value thoughtful comments representing a range of views that make their point quickly and politely. We make an effort to protect discussions from repeated comments either by the same reader or different readers

We follow the same standards for taste as the daily newspaper. A few things we won't tolerate: personal attacks, obscenity, vulgarity, profanity (including expletives and letters followed by dashes), commercial promotion, impersonations, incoherence, proselytizing and SHOUTING. Don't include URLs to Web sites.

We do not edit comments. They are either approved or deleted. We reserve the right to edit a comment that is quoted or excerpted in an article. In this case, we may fix spelling and punctuation.

We welcome strong opinions and criticism of our work, but we don't want comments to become bogged down with discussions of our policies and we will moderate accordingly.

We appreciate it when readers and people quoted in articles or blog posts point out errors of fact or emphasis and will investigate all assertions. But these suggestions should be sent via e-mail. To avoid distracting other readers, we won't publish comments that suggest a correction. Instead, corrections will be made in a blog post or in an article.

click me