The announcement last week that Worcester County has been designated a High Intensity Drug Trafficking Area by the federal government is one of those good news-bad news things. Make that bad news-good news-good news.
The bad news is that the county apparently has gone over the threshold the federal government established to differentiate between areas with bad drug trafficking problems and those with extremely bad problems. In other words, High Intensity Drug Trafficking Areas are the worst of the bad.
Being placed in that category is hardly the kind of thing anyone would rejoice, except — and here’s one part of the good-news equation — it gives Worcester County access to federal help to combat the distribution of opioids and other highly dangerous drugs.
The other good news is that Worcester County’s drug problem, while terrible enough to warrant federal support, is not nearly as severe as it was a few years ago.
Sgt. Nate Passwaters of the sheriff’s office reported this week that this county’s drug trafficking situation seemed to peak around 2011-12. That suggests that demand for these substances is either in decline or has leveled off, which, in either case, means the fight to eradicate the scourge might be somewhat easier now than it would have been back then.
Add that circumstance to the federally supported law enforcement effort, and the result could be much better than anyone would have believed possible as recently as a couple of weeks ago.
Although no one knows what kind of federal assistance will be made available, Passwaters believes local agencies will be happy with anything that enhances their ability to address the siutation.
That would include the ability of local law enforcement to work with agencies in Delaware, where the flow of drugs into Worcester originates, and to conduct joint operations or investigations with them.
It’s a shame the path to this good news had to be lined with bad crime statistics. Yet, it could be we have turned the corner, and will gain more momentum in this battle with whatever additional tools the federal government supplies.