Drug activity between deals and overdoses has become so severe of a problem at the Jersey Shore the NJ DEA has now established a Monmouth-Ocean Task Force to help law enforcement curb this epidemic.

The DEA has recognized the increased heroin and prescription opioid threat to the Monmouth and Ocean County areas which led to the creation of this new DEA Post of Duty office.

The Monmouth-Ocean County Post of Duty Task Force is a designated unit within the DEA New Jersey Division which will increase collaboration with other law enforcement agencies operating in the area.

This collaboration includes enforcement operations, intelligence sharing, community outreach, and prevention initiatives as well as enhancing the partnership between public health and public safety.

At the Task Force Post of Duty there will be a DEA supervisor and special agents and several designated task force officers.

"A task force officer is a local police officer or detective from different police departments or the prosecutor's offices that are assigned to work with the DEA," Special Agent Tim McMahon tells WOBM News. "Although they are a local or county officer or detective, once they get designated and sworn in they get full federal authority and jurisdiction. With the types of investigations we we're involved in, if one of these detectives happens to be the lead investigator on a case and it requires him to hop on a plane and fly down to Columbia, South America to interview an informant, then he's the one who's going to go down there."

The designation also provides them with additional federal resources.

The Task Force will assist local and county law enforcement in a given operation and provide federal resources.

"If they need additional assistance or resources, then they'll contact the Post of Duty and we will provide whatever resources are needed to assist that investigation," McMahon said. "Sometimes that means hopefully being able to step up that local investigation into a federal investigation which would lead to a federal prosecution."

The Task Force will also provide the full force of the federal government on those dealing drugs to scare them away from doing so.

"People that are involved in the drug business from the lowest level person selling on the street corner up to the heads of the different organizations, they're doing what they're doing for one reason only and that's the financial aspect of it because there's so much money involved," McMahon said. "Hopefully having the weight of the federal government behind these investigations will be a deterrent."

McMahon says the ultimate goal is to bring federal charges against these individuals dealing drugs.

No matter how big or small of an investigation it is, the Task Force will be there when called upon.

"The men and women of the Task Force will also be out there (in the field) creating their own investigations within the counties," McMahon said. "It's following up on leads, working with informants, and the utilization of undercover agents and officers to try and infiltrate different organizations."

He says one of the big reasons this Task Force came to be is having Monmouth and Ocean County both designated as HIDTA areas (High Intensity Drug Trafficking Area) by the DEA within the last couple years.

The Monmouth-Ocean office was created by the NJ DEA with the support of Senator Cory Booker, Representative Tom MacArthur, NY/NJ HIDTA Executive Director Chauncey Parker, Monmouth County Prosecutor Chris Gramiccioni, and Ocean County Prosecutor Joe Coronato.

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