The latest salvo from law enforcement in the ongoing battle against the heroin trade in the Shore are will include the creation of a new duty post for federal Drug Enforcement Administration agents in the area.
Officials on Tuesday announced the federal agency would be creating an official “post of duty” for Ocean and Monmouth counties, a result of the declaration of the area as a high intensity drug trafficking area (HIDTA) last year.
“With the establishment of the Post of Duty, additional resources will be dedicated to address the ongoing drug threat plaguing the region,” Al Della Fave, spokesman for the Ocean County Prosecutor’s Office, said in a statement announcing the new office.
The Monmouth/Ocean County Post of Duty Task Force is a designated unit within the DEA New Jersey Division which will increase collaboration with other law enforcement agencies operating in the area, officials said. This collaboration includes enforcement operations, intelligence sharing, community outreach, and prevention initiatives as well as enhancing the partnership between public health and public safety.
U.S. Sen. Cory Booker and U.S. Rep. Tom MacArthur both pushed for the creation of the duty post, officials said.
“The creation of this new office means the permanent assignment of DEA special agents and task force officers,” said Nancy Nickerson, Special Agent in Charge in charge of the New Jersey division. “The office will aim to disrupt the trafficking of narcotics throughout Monmouth and Ocean County. It will also allow for the increased use of federal resources to combat the current heroin, fentanyl and prescription painkiller epidemic that has taken a toll on the area resulting in an unprecedented number of drug overdose fatalities.”
Joseph Coronato, the Ocean County prosecutor, welcomed the news, especially after existing partnerships with federal, state, county and local agencies from Ocean County to North Jersey and New York resulted in the county largest drug bust in history earlier this year.
“That was just the beginning to a tremendous partnership that will send a resounding warning to those who choose to transport narcotics into Ocean County,” he said. “The official office will not only bring more manpower to the Shore area but also more federal funding. This will give us access to more tools to really do our jobs. It’s beyond significant!”
The Ocean-Monmouth corridor was declared part of the HIDTA program in September 2017.