U.S. Department of Justice announced this week it’s deploying over 300 federal prosecutors to “priority” areas to fight violent crime and the opioid epidemic, as well as help enforce immigration laws.
Delaware is receiving two of these Assistant U.S. Attorneys. One will focus on affirmative civil enforcement and the other on violent crime.
US Attorney for the District of Delaware David Weiss says his office applied for these positions because of high violent crime statistics in New Castle County, and local effects of the opioid epidemic.
“We will look in part for these attorneys to take on cases in which we feel doctors are overprescribing certain pills. Oxycodone, or other forms of opioids,” he said.
According to Weiss, having federal prosecutors to attack the issue from a civil rather than criminal angle means faster results.
“We could shut down a practice on the front end of what we perceive as a dangerous situation rather than waiting for perhaps a protracted investigation,” he said.
Weiss, who was confirmed in February, says the District of Delaware is looking to fill several other vacancies and hopes to go from its current 16 attorneys to 22 by the fall.
He says one of the new positions, as well as some existing vacancies he’s working to fill, will be dedicated solely to violent crime, particularly in Wilmington.
“Last year’s numbers … were record highs: 197 federal shootings and 32 homicides. These are numbers we have to address. It’s just unacceptable,” Weiss said.
Attorney General Jeff Sessions said in a statement the addition of the new Assistant US Attorney positions is the largest increase in decades.