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Sununu: Cutting Off Out-Of-State Supply Crucial First Step in Drug Fight

Paige Sutherland/NHPR
Gov. Chris Sununu joins state and local law enforcement Tuesday in touting bill to hire 15 drug interdiction state troopers in N.H.

Gov. Chris Sununu wants lawmakers to fast-track a bill to hire five new state troopers to focus on cutting off the drug supply from out of state. That's on top of the ten additional troopers Sununu proposed in his state spending plan last month

This measure went before the Senate Finance Committee Tuesday afternoon.

Sununu and  top law enforcement officials  say adding troopers to work New Hampshire’s borders will send the message that New Hampshire is serious about making life more difficult for drug traffickers.

According to Safety Commissioner John Barthelmes the new troopers will work closely with federal and regional law enforcement and will focus on where the drugs are coming in.

“These drugs are not coming by air, they are not coming by sea, they are coming up our roads and highways and let me tell you – the quantities that are coming into New Hampshire from out of state are significant,” Barthelmes said at Tuesday's press conference at the Statehouse.

Barthelmes stressed that targeting the supply before it is distributed into the communities is key, adding that these troopers will be trained to track trends and behaviors on the roadways.

Sununu noted that prevention and treatment are still important parts of the solution, but that cutting off these cross-border channels is a crucial first step in this drug fight.

“This is really a special enforcement operation that is going to target this crisis in a regional way with cross-border support from law enforcement, local officials,” said Sununu, adding that this collaboration has already begun.

This announcement comes just weeks after Sununu claimed that the majority of the state’s drugs were coming from Lawrence, Massachusetts and that local enforcement were “going in" to stop it.

Currently the state has four so-called drug interdiction troopers, which focus on hot spots such as Interstate 95, 93 and the Everett Turnpike. Since Sept. 2015 these troopers have made roughly 200 drug arrests.

The measure also calls for more than $2 million for "Granite Hammer" grants, which is a statewide program where local, federal and state law enforcement agencies team up to make drug busts. 

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