An attempt to provide upstate New York's fight against illegal drugs with millions of dollars in federal funds is stalled in the White House, says the Rochester Democrat and Chronicle. Drug czar John Walters is resisting an effort to have the region that includes Rochester, Buffalo, Syracuse, and Albany designated a High Intensity Drug Trafficking Area, which could bring $1 million to $3 million a year to help local law enforcement. Senator Charles Schumer, a Democrat, said that, “The drug czar, without even batting an eye, should understand our needs in upstate New York.”
Joseph Keefe, Walters' deputy for state and local affairs, said the upstate region does not fit the criteria for the federal drug-trafficking designation, called a HIDTA. Keefe said a “threat assessment” with an upstate proposal indicated the majority of drugs moving through the region from Canada go to New York City, where there is already a HIDTA.
Upstate wants to join 19 other U.S. regions to be awarded the designation. The program sends about $225 million a year to the designated areas. Since Walters took office in December 2001, no new HIDTAs have been designated.