Mike Hilgers

Nebraska Attorney General

Attorney General Mike Hilgers' April Column: Nebraska Drug Forum and the Fight Against Illicit Drugs

Since being sworn in as Attorney General, I have been traveling around the state meeting with local law enforcement leaders. When we meet, I ask them: what are the top issues you see that impact your communities? While the answers vary from county to county, there is one constant—the problem with illicit drugs. While there is a range of drugs that impact Nebraska communities, the two I hear about most often are fentanyl and meth. 
The devastating impact of these drugs is real. When it comes to fentanyl, truly “one pill can kill.” Just a small amount of the drug, as tiny as a pin drop, can take someone’s life. The stories of unsuspecting users who have been killed by taking pills they did not know were fentanyl-laced are numerous and heartbreaking. These drugs do not play favorites and can kill or devastate the lives of those no matter where they live or how wealthy they may be. Tragically, these drugs do not care.
These drugs are being delivered through ever-sophisticated means. Rarely are these drugs manufactured in Nebraska; instead, both fentanyl and meth are funneled through distribution channels from Mexican cartels who manufacture these drugs outside of the country. Working with other states, Nebraska is raising the alarm. We recently joined with 21 states earlier this year in asking the Biden Administration to declare these cartels terrorist organizations. They are deliberately poisoning our communities, and their drugs kill Nebraskans. We need every tool to fight and prevent the damage of illicit drug use here in Nebraska. Unfortunately, the Biden Administration has not acted on our request.
Law enforcement in Nebraska works tirelessly to defend our communities. In the Attorney General’s Office, we work alongside our federal and state partners to disrupt the drug networks in our state. As part of that effort, our office organized the second annual Nebraska Drug Forum, which is an event designed to further the coordination, collaboration, and communication with our law enforcement partners. 
This year’s forum was a great success. Held in Kearney last month, over 150 law enforcement officials attended. Our federal partners, including the FBI, the Department of Justice, the United States Postal Service, and the Drug Enforcement Agency, were in attendance, as well as our primary state-level law enforcement partner, the Nebraska State Patrol. In addition, many sheriffs, county attorneys, and police chiefs from across Nebraska came to Kearney to connect at the Drug Forum.
Agency leaders expressed their commitment to the fight and visions for success. Presentations were given on overdose death investigations and prosecutions, interdictions, cartels, and we shared information on tools and technologies. Areas for potential future legislation were also identified. Efforts like the Nebraska Drug Forum help strengthen our efforts, leading to ever-better communication and collaboration while enhancing the effectiveness of our efforts. 
The drug threat is rapidly evolving, and we must all work together to fight its devastating reach in Nebraska. Parents, school officials, and administrators play a critical role in educating children about the dangers of drug use. Local law enforcement helps ensure that local use is discouraged and regional distribution rings are identified and prosecuted. The Attorney General's Office, alongside our state and federal partners, with shared access to effective tools and intelligence gathering, helps identify larger networks and assists in major prosecutions to ensure the safety of our citizens and communities.
We will continue to do our part to help protect Nebraskans from this scourge.