NEW YORK (Sputnik) — US President Barack Obama’s Administration should not cut federal funding for programs meant to combat heroin in parts of New York given the increasing number of heroin-related deaths, US Senator Chuck Schumer said in a statement.
“Cutting critical drug trafficking funding, as heroin use continues to rise and kill more and more people in the Rochester area, does not make any sense,” Schumer stated on Monday.
Schumer’s statement came in response to a February 2014 proposal by the Obama Administration to cut funding to the High Intensity Drug Trafficking Area (HIDTA) program, which provides resources to areas such as Rochester in an effort to combat heroin trafficking and use.
“There was almost 100 heroin overdose deaths in Rochester last year, an over 300 percent increase from 2012,” Schumer said.
Schumer called on the Administration to reverse its decision, and is asking for an additional $100 million instead.
“We all saw the horrors caused by the crack epidemic when left unchecked by the feds and other law enforcement and that’s why we need to increase HIDTA funding to help prevent areas like Rochester and Update New York from becoming a hotbed for heroin,” Schumer said.
The proposed cuts would affect all 28 HIDTA programs nationwide, which include approximately 16 percent of all counties in the United States and 60 percent of the US population, but would impact the New York-New Jersey area the most.
In New York State, which has a population of almost 20 million, over three percent of the population have tried heroin, according to the US Department of Health and Human Services.
Schumer blamed the recent spike in heroin overdoses on a new strain of heroin laced with fentanyl, a highly addictive opioid, which was found in over half of heroin related deaths in Rochester in 2012.