CLARKSBURG — FBI Director Christopher Wray traveled to West Virginia on Tuesday to meet with local, state and federal law enforcement officials to discuss ways to further strengthen partnerships and combat the increased distribution of opioids and violent crime.
Wray toured the FBI’s Criminal Justice Information Services campus in Clarksburg, meeting with William Ihlenfeld, the U.S. Attorney for the Northern District of West Virginia, and local sheriff’s and police department officials.
The purpose of Tuesday’s visit was to discuss threats facing all levels of law enforcement in West Virginia, including the spread of synthetic opioids such as fentanyl and the rise in associated violent crime. to drug trafficking.
“I just completed a meeting, a great meeting really, with several of our law enforcement partners from across the state: chiefs, sheriffs and other law enforcement officials,” Wray said. . “It was a great opportunity to talk about some of the most pressing threats that we are working together to tackle.”
Wray also spoke about how the FBI’s field office in Pittsburgh and CJIS could be a resource for local law enforcement. CJIS, a branch of the FBI’s Science and Technology Division, was created when the FBI moved its fingerprint identification services to Clarksburg in 1995 after building the facility in 1991.
The largest division of the FBI with more than 3,000 employees, CJIS includes the National Crime Information Center, Uniform Crime Reporting, and Fingerprint Identification and the National Incident-Based Reporting System, among other programs.
“It’s an innovation hub that plays a critical role in providing our intelligence and law enforcement partners across the country with the information they need to keep people safe, from biometric identification to law enforcement statistics, to name checks for gun purchases,” Wray said.
“CJIS is one of those divisions of the FBI that has the most impact on the American people, that the American people know the least about, so I never pass up an opportunity to publicize the great work of the nearly 3 000 people who work here at CJIS,” Wray said. “This team represents the best of the FBI. They keep their heads down and work 24/7, without fanfare to keep Americans safe.
Wray said it’s the FBI’s partnerships with local law enforcement that make the difference in the war on opioids and fentanyl, a potent synthetic opioid stronger than heroin, oxycodone and others. opioids. Fentanyl is often cut from other drugs to increase the number of high users, but this often leads to drug overdoses and deaths.
As an example, Wray touted the drug seizure in August by the My Metro Drug Task Force in Morgantown which seized a large batch of rainbow fentanyl, a colored version of opioids stamped to look like opioids on arrangement.
“Through our FBI-led task forces, FBI agents are working hand-in-hand with our state and local partners to tackle the drug problem that affects so many communities,” Wray said. “One team, one fight – that’s what makes a big dent in this threat.”
Wray also cited recent convictions of two people in Huntington who were part of a 19-defendant breakup of a multi-state drug distribution ring. The FBI Field Office in Pittsburgh also worked with the West Virginia Department of Education and the Allegheny Health Network to develop an opioid awareness video that is shown in schools across the state.
“It highlights the far-reaching effects that illegal drug use can have, not only on drug users, but also on their family members and the wider community so that we can reach vulnerable people before they fall prey to addiction,” Wray said.
The increase in the abuse of opioids and fentanyl has resulted in violent crime. Wray said West Virginia had about 4,000 incidents of violent crime in 2021, as well as an increase in violent crimes committed by minors.
“In addition to working on the fight against illegal drugs, we also rely on our partnerships with state and local law enforcement to combat the increase in violent crime,” Wray said. “Obviously we still have a lot of work to do, but I’m encouraged by the kind of concrete results we’ve been able to achieve through close collaboration.”
CJIS sits on 986 acres in Clarksburg and plays a pivotal role in advancing crime-fighting technologies that the FBI and other law enforcement agencies rely on. Wray said the Clarksburg site offers future opportunities to expand the types of services the FBI could offer as technologies improve.
“It’s a service to the law enforcement community across the country,” Wray said. “(CJIS) is a central function not just for the FBI, but for the law enforcement profession nationwide. We constantly see innovations here on how to make this more efficient and effective. I consider CJIS to be a jewel in the FBI’s crown that we protect for the law enforcement profession nationwide.