WHEELING, W.Va – United States Attorney William Ihlenfeld has been named chairperson of the Appalachia High Intensity Drug Trafficking Area (AHIDTA) Executive Board and will now lead efforts in the region to combat the trafficking of fentanyl and other illicit substances.
The Appalachia HIDTA is comprised of drug task forces from Kentucky, Tennessee, Virginia, and West Virginia, and was responsible for nearly 2,400 drug arrests in 2021, along with the seizure of substantial quantities of heroin, fentanyl, cocaine, and methamphetamine, as well as firearms.
“It’s an honor to be asked to serve in this capacity and I’ll use the opportunity to strengthen the region’s response to the alarming increase in drug overdoses, many of which are being caused by fentanyl,” said U.S. Attorney Ihlenfeld.
Appalachia HIDTA Executive Director Vic Brown met with Ihlenfeld today in Wheeling to discuss strategies to combat the drug epidemic in West Virginia.
“United States Attorney Ihlenfeld is a highly respected law enforcement professional, and his leadership and expertise will be of tremendous benefit to the Appalachia HIDTA Executive Board,” said Director Brown.
Fentanyl is now the leading cause of death in those aged 18-45 in the United States, according to the CDC. The Northern District of West Virginia has seen fentanyl-related overdose deaths more than double, and the amount seized in the district in the last year was enough to kill nearly half its population.
“The financial and intelligence resources provided by the Appalachia HIDTA allow our task forces to dismantle and disrupt organizations that bring illicit substances to West Virginia and surrounding states,” said Ihlenfeld. “We will leverage those resources in 2022 to target fentanyl traffickers operating in the United States and abroad.”
Ihlenfeld previously served as Vice Chairperson and Budget Chair for the AHIDTA Executive Board.