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August 27, 2013

U.S. Rep. Rothfus speaks on local, national and international issues

— Disrupting the drug trade and making sure law enforcement officers receive adequate funding are two ways the federal government can help cities such as Johnstown handle crime problems, according to U.S. Rep. Keith Rothfus, R-Sewickley.

Last year, the city saw a spike in burglaries and assaults. Cambria County has 12 pending murder cases. In a recent report, the Johnstown Crime and Violence Commission described heroin trafficking as the “common denominator” for many of the area’s crime-related problems with housing, education, law enforcement and rehabilitation.

Rothfus discussed the concerns about drug dealing during a meeting with The Tribune-Democrat on Monday.

“We have got to keep the pressure on the drug trade,” said the 12th district congressman. “Drugs destroy lives, simply put.”

Recently, the Richland Township Police Department, FBI, Drug Enforcement Agency, Cambria County Drug Task Force and state attorney general’s office worked together to make one of the area’s largest drug busts ever, seizing an estimated $250,000 worth of heroin.

Cambria County District Attorney Kelly Callihan warned the raid could lead to an increase in property crime as users compete for a reduced supply of heroin.

“Drugs is a big problem,” said Rothfus. “It was good news on the big drug bust the other day. But, in talking with some of the local officials, they’re breaking into homes and the feeling is that maybe some of these are the result of people looking for resources to fund their drug habit. As the district attorney was warning on Friday that, with the drug bust, people should be vigilant. That means they’re taking part of the supply offline. Supply and demand works in the underground economy as it does in the overground economy. If there’s less supply, the prices are going to go up. People should be vigilant.”

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