DEA Partners With Manchester Law Enforcement, Schools

Nov 15, 2016

Elementary school participants in DEA's dance program
Credit Emily Corwin / NHPR

In Manchester, the U.S. Drug Enforcement Agency is partnering with state and local agencies in a new effort to curtail both the supply of illicit opioids and the demand for them.

On the demand side, the DEA program is starting young. Tuesday, students from Parker-Varney and Green Acres Elementary Schools danced to Rihanna’s “We Found Love.” Cristine Dhimos is the regional manager of the after school dance program. 

“I think one of the best things is the kids have an opportunity to be in a safe place for one hour,” she says.

DEA Youth Dance teachers are paid by a nonprofit associated with the Drug Enforcement Agency, called the DEA Educational Foundation. They get training from the DEA in drug prevention messaging, and bring that back to their dance classes.

But that’s just onr side of the program. On the supply side of the drug epidemic, DEA Special Agent Michael J. Ferguson explains, DEA activities are “directed at violent drug trafficking organizations and gangs in the Manchester area.”

In addition to combating drug trafficking, the DEA says it is also working with state and local partners to reduce the over-prescription and diversion of addictive painkillers. 

Manchester will be the first city in the Northeast to implement what the DEA is calling its “360 degree strategy.”  DEA Assistant Special Agent Jon DeLena said he keeps getting asked – why Manchester?

“The bad news is we have a problem here,” he says. “But the good news is the real reason Manchester was selected was there’s tremendous infrastructure here, there’s a coalition of the willing.”

DEA’s “360 degree strategy” is already underway in cities elsewhere in the nation.