In order to combat a epidemic of heroin use on the East End, a trio of state lawmakers has formed a new task force of elected officials and law enforcement.
Dubbed Heroin Addiction Legislative Task Force, or H.A.L.T., the group’s mission is to marshal East End municipalities’ resources to be their most effective in fighting heroin sales and heroin addiction and identify additional resources that are needed.
In February, Suffolk County District Attorney Thomas Spota announced his East End Drug Task Force busted a Harlem-to-Long Island heroin ring that was dealing heroin stamped “Hollywood.” Then in April, a heroin ring that spanned from Brooklyn to Suffolk County was busted dealing “High Octane” heroin.
The task force will assemble for the first time in May, led by state Senator Kenneth P. LaValle, or Port Jefferson, Assemblyman Fred W. Thiele Jr, of Sag Harbor, and Assemblyman Anthony Palumbo, of New Suffolk.
The lawmakers note the unique nature of the East End, where there are many towns and village with their own police agencies and courts.
“The increase in heroin use has reached alarming levels and we need to take action to address this critical situation,” LaValle said in a statement. “A broad-based East End approach will help us to identify areas where we can be productive in combating the scourge of heroin and other opiates. The initial meeting will be the first in a series that will assist us in determining the types of resources that are needed on the East End.”
Thiele added, “The widespread use of, and addiction to heroin and other narcotics and opioids on the East End is extremely alarming. Individuals, families and entire communities have been turned upside-down. We must stand up and start to do more to address this crisis.”
Palumbo is a former a former narcotics prosecutor in the DA’s office. “I have seen first hand the devastation that drug abuse reaps upon the lives of those affected,” he said. “Drug addiction is often a catalyst for the commission of violent crimes, up to and including murder. This is an issue that ripples into the greater community, and it is critical for us to meaningfully address it in the form of real solutions that will be proffered by this task force.”