DRUG SUMMIT OPENS IN BILLINGS, MONTANA
BILLINGSToday, Jeffrey D. Sweetin, Special Agent in Charge of the Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) Rocky Mountain Division along with Bill Wolfe, Co-Founder of Students Organized Against Risks (S.O.A.R.); William Mercer, United States Attorney for the District of Montana; Mike McGrath, Attorney General for the State of Montana; Jeff Linkenbach, Director of the Montana Social Norms Project; Ron Tussing, Chief of the Billings Police Department; Chuck Maxwell, Sheriff of Yellowstone County and representatives from Kampgrounds of America (KOA), and the Montana National Guard together opened the Montana Big Sky "Illicit Drug" Conference at the Billings Hotel and Convention Center, 1223 Mullowney Lane, Billings, Montana.
The Big Sky Conference will be a catalyst for Montana in developing support for implementing prevention and intervention strategies that will help the communities of Montana address underlying needs that make them vulnerable to drug abuse and trafficking.
"We are proud to be working with the people of Montana. While law enforcement is an effective method of removing drug trafficking organizations, we hope to help extend the results of these efforts by joining with existing community coalitions to reduce the demand for illicit drugs through prevention and intervention programs," said Special Agent in Charge Sweetin.
DEA launched the pilot plan for the Big Sky Conference with similar summits in Pueblo and Fort Collins, Colorado. Because of the success in these towns, DEA initiated the Big Sky Conference to bring together community professionals from Montana and other western states. One of the highlights of this conference is to announce the launching of the "Meth Free MT" campaign initiated by Attorney General Mike McGrath's office. This important initiative is a grassroots effort to create and engage a network of informed citizens to help rid Montana of methamphetamine through education and community policing."The basis for the Big Sky 'Illicit Drug' Conference is partnering law enforcement with intervention, prevention, medical, treatment, schools, community coalitions and faith-based professionals. To have long-lasting success in eliminating drugs from our neighborhoods, our law enforcement efforts need to be combined with input from those communities affected by drug abuse and crime," said Special Agent in Charge Sweetin.
"S.O.A.R. is excited to be a part of the Montana Big Sky 'Illicit Drug' Conference. The focus on the conference on drug prevention and education tracks with our commitment to the Middle School students in Billings regarding illicit drugs and making positive choices," said Bill Wolfe Co-founder Students Organized Against Risks. "The Drug Enforcement Administration has been an important part of the S.O.A.R. club. We appreciate the commitment that the DEA agents have made through the years to educate our S.O.A.R. club students."
A wide range of government leaders, private citizens and law enforcement personnel are attending the three-day summit. Although the DEA's role as a law enforcement agency is well known, it's role in prevention activities is equally important in ridding our communities of illegal drugs. These activities include education and training for young people, parents, teachers, coaches, employers and community leaders.
For additional information, contact Special Agent Daniel Reuter, Public Information Officer at (406)657-6020.