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Nov 15, 2016 8:10 PM

Manchester takes part in federal program to combat drug crisis by engaging youth


MANCHESTER — The Queen City is selected to take part in a new federal pilot program to address the drug crisis and related crime problem.

The program is called DEA 360 Strategy, because it brings together a wide range of agencies and organizations together to operate.

"We are coming together today to protect the children of New Hampshire who are under attack by the ruthless and immoral drug dealers who are preying on their futures," says Jon Delena, DEA Assistant Special Agent in Charge.

The DEA-led initiative includes partners in law enforcement, education, healthcare, treatment and recovery.

"The epidemic, as I always say, is not only our biggest public safety issue, it's also our biggest health problem," says New Hampshire Attorney General Joseph Foster.

The three primary goals of the 360 strategy are dismantling drug trafficking organizations and gangs, engaging the medical community to educate patients about opioid prescriptions and community outreach.

The community outreach includes the DEA Youth Dance Program that recently launched in two Manchester schools: Parker Varney Elementary and Green Acres Elementary.

"This I think is probably the most important part of it. We're reaching the kids, the kids who need it the most," says DeLena. He adds," It keeps them busy and we're going to keep them engaged. They're going to be part of my team. It's to teach these kids to stay away from drugs, to find some healthy alternatives, find things that are good for them that they can have fun doing."

"I'm just getting warmed up. I like to get involved with the kids, and I'm certainly by no means a dancer--especially a hip hop dancer-- but I am going to do my best to join in on the fun and lead by example."

As for the kids? So far so good. You may be wondering why we're here at the Boys and Girls Club. It's one tactic of the overall DEA strategy — agents building relationships with the kids who call this their second home.

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