Governor LePage announces $900,000 for MDEA to Combat Drug Epidemic
October 7, 2014
For Immediate Release: Tuesday, October 07, 2014
Contact: Adrienne Bennett, Press Secretary, 207-287-2531
AUGUSTA – Governor Paul R. LePage announced Tuesday the Maine Drug Enforcement Agency (MDEA) has been awarded $905,102 to combat the state’s widespread drug problem. The grant is from the U.S. Department of Justice and will be used to assist MDEA in investigating the sale and manufacturing of methamphetamine in Maine.
Nationwide, $6 million was awarded to 10 separate state drug enforcement agencies, with Maine receiving the third largest grant. West Virginia and California received the largest amounts of money. This year, MDEA has responded to 20 meth labs, the same number as for all of last year.
“I have warned the legislature repeatedly that drug trafficking by ruthless, out-of-state street gangs is on the rise, but liberal politicians have failed to take action to fight violent drug crime,” said Governor LePage. “Organized drug gangs are flooding the state with cheap heroin, and leadership in the Legislature has refused to provide the manpower law enforcement agencies need to prevent these criminals from addicting Mainers with this killer drug. This federal money will fund a minimal number of drug agents for two years, but we must address this issue on a state level with both the funding and resources I outlined in my drug bill.”
In June, Governor LePage highlighted Maine’s drug problem and identified funding for additional MDEA agents, judges and prosecutors to combat drug crimes.
In Maine, four new drug agents will be hired with the funds, according to MDEA Director Roy McKinney, and will purchase specialized equipment for the agents who respond to meth lab sites. The agents will exclusively work on identifying and investigating complaints of suspected methamphetamine manufacturing. There were 32 methamphetamine arrests in Maine in 2012, and last year that number reached 51.
McKinney said making methamphetamine, which is a highly addictive drug, is dangerous because the household components used to create it can be explosive when mixed together. MDEA has a specially trained lab team that responds to suspected meth labs, and the new drug agents will become part of that team.
“Methamphetamine is a serious drug problem in Maine,” McKinney said. “The numbers of labs and arrests have increased in recent years, which are the reasons Maine applied for the federal funding earlier in the year. This added federal funding will allow MDEA to pursue this dangerous drug threat that affects the health and safety of Maine residents.”
The federal grant, which was crafted by Department of Public Safety Commissioner John Morris and McKinney, requires no matching funding from the state and will fund the agents and equipment for a two-year period. The money comes from the federal Office of Community Oriented Policing Services.