Stand in the Gap organizers want federal drug task force

By: Angela Sparkman Email
By: Angela Sparkman Email

A federal drug task force could be on the way to the Cumberland Valley region.

The organizers behind the "Stand in the Gap" march and prayer service last year are now pushing for the task force.

Investigators say where Kentucky, Tennessee, and Virginia all meet in the Cumberland Gap is a hot bed for prescription pill trafficking.

"We are certain for the center of the prescription drug epidemic is right here," said Edwin Robertson.

Robertson, who helped organize the "Stand in the Gap" event against drugs, is now working on a new project. He wants to see a federal drug task force in this region.

"There's no doubt that would help us. A lot of our traffickers are getting their drugs from east Tennessee or vice-versa and they're using the state boundary line to avoid detection," said Dan Smoot with Operation UNITE.

UNITE investigators say a three state federal drug task force could eliminate state boundaries and allow investigators to cross state lines to follow drug dealers. Then those arrested would face federal charges and harsher punishment.
"That would mean stricter sentencing guidelines, mandatory sentences, more money to make drug buys, and a lot more effectiveness against the high end drug dealer that we've not been able to reach thus far," said Robertson.

Organizers say they want to do more than put offenders in jail, they also want to offer more treatment options to drug addicts.

"There's folks that have made mistakes and those that want help. We'd certainly like to help them get trained for a job and get them back in as a productive member of society," said Robertson.

Robertson says several lawmakers from the three states are supportive of the idea.

Smoot is also offering Tennessee and Virginia the opportunity to create an Operation UNITE program in those states.

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