Northampton County pulled in nearly twice as much in the past year in its drug forfeiture program than it did in the previous fiscal year, District Attorney Terry Houck said Tuesday morning in a news release.
Crediting the “dedicated work of our local police departments”, Houck said the program that seizes assets from suspected drug dealers took in $245,585.16 as of June 30, as well as two firearms and six vehicles. That is an increase of more than $113,428 from the previous fiscal year, he added.
“Pursuant to the Controlled Substance Act, the Office of the District Attorney is authorized to seize money, automobiles, and real estate from individuals dealing drugs, in addition to various other property used to facilitate drug trades or which represents profits from illegal drug sales, Houck said. “This statute allows us to work to remove drug dealers’ resources, put an end to their illegal operations that plague our Northampton County community, and ultimately save lives.”
While the money will continue to aid in specialized police training and help fund community groups, it will also help pay for the now full-time Northampton County Drug Task Force, Houck said.
“In June, we instituted our first countywide full-time drug task force in response to the nationwide spike in fentanyl-related drug overdose deaths infiltrating our communities,” Houck said. “The task force will increase our abilities to execute more comprehensive investigations as our officers are now able to go beyond the boundaries of their local jurisdiction, utilizing the monies confiscated from drug dealers and turning their illegal profits against them. Rest assured there will be consequences for those involved in the selling and attempted profit of the illegal drug trade.”
While the money helps with enforcement efforts, it also assists in “educating our youth on the dangers of drugs,” Houck said.
As for the bigger number in the most recent fiscal year, Houck told lehighvalleylive.com, “Part of it was the backup from the pandemic. Also, we had a few larger scale drug investigations which translated into money forfeiture. And we’re hoping with the full-time task force this continues.”
The district attorney praised county Detective Andre Stevens, the task force leader, and Assistant District Attorney Adrianne Doll, the forfeiture coordinator, for their efforts. He also saluted “our local detectives for their assistance with our countywide drug enforcement.”
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Tony Rhodin can be reached at email@example.com.