NORTH HAVERHILL – U.S. Senator Maggie Hassan yesterday toured the Grafton County Digital Forensic Lab, where she heard about their work to investigate illegal drug sales, including those targeted at young people.
Drug dealers have become more sophisticated in their use of digital technology to sell fentanyl, methamphetamine, and other deadly drugs, and they are constantly evolving their efforts to avoid detection – for instance, using emojis on apps like Snapchat to sell drugs to young people without parents knowing. The forensic lab investigates these types of crimes, and the evidence that they find is critical to stopping and prosecuting drug dealers. Senator Hassan also heard about their work to pursue internet crimes against children.
“Protecting public safety is government’s most important task, and I am grateful for Grafton County Digital Forensic Lab’s efforts to keep New Hampshire communities safe,” said Senator Hassan. “As criminals target drug sales to young people through their phones and social media, the digital lab is doing crucial work to investigate and prosecute these and other crimes. I appreciated hearing an update on their efforts, and I will keep working to ensure that law enforcement have the tools and resources that they need to do high-tech crime solving.”
"It was great to have Senator Hassan here to discuss the latest in our efforts to prevent deadly drugs from reaching young people and families across our state,” said Jeff Stiegler, Sheriff of Grafton County. “Senator Hassan is a critical partner in our efforts, and we look forward to continuing our work together as we increasingly see deadly overdoses devastating families here in New Hampshire."
Law enforcement officials shared with Senator Hassan the need for more personnel and ongoing training, as they need to continue to evolve their investigations as criminals change their tactics and technology progresses. They also discussed the need for additional and flexible federal funding in order to carry out their work. One critical training program is through the National Computer Forensics Institute, which has trained law enforcement in New Hampshire and across the country on how to investigate and prosecute criminals that exploit computers, phones, and the internet. Senator Hassan and colleagues reauthorized this program at the end of last year.
Senator Hassan also continues to work on additional ways to stop illegal drug trafficking and combat substance misuse. Since 2017, Senator Hassan has successfully worked to secure a nine-fold increase in funding to New Hampshire to address the substance use disorder epidemic. The year-end government funding package that President Biden recently signed into law includes Senator Hassan’s bipartisan Mainstreaming Addiction Treatment (MAT) Act, which eliminates an outdated requirement, the ‘x-waiver,’ that limits the number of medical practitioners who can prescribe life-saving medication-assisted treatment for opioid use disorder. In addition, the year-end funding bill included a measure backed by Senator Hassan to extend fentanyl analogue scheduling, in order to keep criminals from using loopholes to traffic deadly opioids. Senator Hassan also worked with her colleagues to pass into law the bipartisan INTERDICT Act, which has provided critical tools to Customs and Border Protection to help detect and intercept fentanyl and other illegal synthetic opioids.