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2 Northland drug and violent crimes task forces merge

DULUTH They do similar work in adjoining regions and already are frequently sharing information between agencies. Now, the Lake Superior Drug and Violent Crimes Task Force and the Boundary Waters Drug and Violent Crimes Task Force have merged and will share the LSDVCTF name. It will be headquartered within the Duluth Police Department, with satellite offices in Virginia and Hibbing.

We know that drug dealers pay no attention to crossing boundaries between cities,counties and states. That s why these task forces were formed in the first place, said Sheriff Ross Litman, whose office previously had deputies working in both task forces. To combine the two task forces now increases the information sharing between departments and the resources we re able to direct to stop the distribution of drugs and criminal elements in our region. The new Lake Superior Drug and Violent Crimes Task Force will include representatives from 13 police departments, three sheriff s offices and four state or federal agencies. The task force covers a region that spans more than 12,000 square miles, making it the largest in the state, geographically.

By working together, the task force will be able to better share intelligence information gathered by their respective members, share investigatory resources and equipment, and increase their eligibility for federal funding sources.

We have found in our experience that many of the crimes our communities are experiencing have a drug correlation, said Jeff Kazel, LSDVCTF commander. Working together, we can better stop the heroin and opioids, methamphetamine and other drugs, and the crimes that accompany their distribution and use, that are hurting our citizens and our communities.

The LSDVCTF now includes representatives from the Duluth, Superior, Cloquet, Hermantown, Virginia, Hibbing, Eveleth, Babbitt, Ely, East Range, Breitung, Chisholm and Gilbert police departments; the St. Louis, Lake and Carlton County Sheriff s Offices, the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives; United States Border Patrol; Department of Homeland Security; and Minnesota National Guard Counter Drug Program.

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