Edgewood native Stephen T. Moyer, the Maryland Department of Public Safety and Correctional Services Secretary, has been named to help lead a program aimed at addressing drug trafficking in the Baltimore and Washington region.
Moyer, who served for 24 years as a Maryland State Police trooper and lieutenant colonel, was selected as vice-chairman and eventual chairman of the Washington/Baltimore High Intensity Drug Trafficking Area (HIDTA).
The federal program administered by the White House Office of National Drug Control Policy is designed to provide resources for federal, state, local and tribal entities in combatting drug trafficking in Maryland, Virginia, Washington, D.C., and parts of West Virginia.
"I am honored and thrilled, floored actually," Moyer, 56, who was nominated by District of Columbia Assistant U.S. Attorney John Dominguez, said Thursday. "I wish Mom and Dad were here to see this, because it's a big one for me, having the ability to be part of a great organization that is really aggressive in going after heroin distribution."
His father is former Harford County Sheriff Theodore S. Moyer, who died in 2012. Sheriff Moyer served as Harford County's top law enforcement officer from 1982 to 1986. He also was a retired State Police major.
Moyer will serve one year as vice chair and become chairman next year, he said.
HIDTA has two main goals: To disrupt the market for illegal drugs by dismantling or disrupting drug-trafficking and/or money laundering organizations and to improve the efficiency and effectiveness of the HIDTA initiative, he said.
As vice chair, he will review funding recommendations for every police partner participating in the organization, which includes agencies from Cecil to Washington counties in Maryland, around the cities of Baltimore and Washington, D.C., as well as some counties around Richmond and the Virginia Beach/Norfolk area, he said.
HIDTA goes after huge drug organizations, Moyer said, "ones that are trafficking kilos of drugs into the country and into the Baltimore-Washington region. It disrupts the organizations."
It also tries to identify where the money is coming from to support the organizations, ones like the Black Guerilla Family that was moving thousands of dollars worth of drugs in and out of the Baltimore jail system until it was broken up several years ago.
"That's just one example of the type of criminal organization that you want to try to cripple," he said.
While there's still a lot of cocaine in the region, heroin is the main focus.
"Heroin is huge, it's on the rise and so is fentanyl and carfentanil, which have emerged recently in Anne Arundel County and Harford County," Moyer said. "It's vitally important for law enforcement to break up organizations that are bringing that into communities because it's killing people, number one. And when police officers investigate those cases, they become exposed to drugs and have to be administered Narcan."
"The Executive Board is extremely fortunate to have Steve, with his years of experience in law enforcement and management, step forward to provide leadership," Washington/Baltimore HIDTA Executive Director Thomas H. Carr said.
Moyer's selection comes at a critical time as the region confronts an opioid addiction crisis. In March, Gov. Larry Hogan declared a state of emergency to address the drug scourge, committing $50 million more over the next five years for law enforcement, prevention and treatment services.
As department secretary, Moyer manages an agency with more than 10,000 employees and a $1.4 billion budget that includes the Divisions of Corrections, Parole and Probation and Pre-Trial Release Services. Before becoming head of the state agency, he was a career law enforcement officer and is retired from the Maryland State Police.
"I am proud to be selected to take up this challenge and combat deadly drug trafficking in our region working together with all our law enforcement partners to save the lives of our citizens," Moyer said.