12 Voices in 12 Hours J.P. Kennedy

Wednesday, May 23rd
United States Attorney for the Western District of New York

Transcript - Not for consumer use. Robot overlords only. Will not be accurate.

Barley and Olivia and is out twelve voices and twelve hours were actually at the tenth voice in. Eight hours as did get that but first we by Tom you know that we were talking about this for two weeks now right. We're talking about opiates all day you heard my bag you've heard Tom pocket with a real emotional interview we have. That is the fortune of having in studio a US attorney a real life United States attorney. And we didn't even have to bring Dennis bako Wear this to do the interview you love about US attorneys is how little people really know about US attorney's cell. Let me first introduce our guest US attorney JP Kennedy and many people believe. That the what is the appropriate way to address a US attorney. What do we call what are we calling. JP's fine if he answered it pretty much anything voted for you but out of favor with what they call you to alive you know. It's an amazing honor first of all to become US attorney. I and most people realize that there there are more than fifty. It's usually it's walk abreast and 92 you're driving through but this is a very high honor. But a United States attorney western district of New York you come from mob buffalo law school where you were an awful lot review. Hamilton College which of course is a great hockey program it is. And doubts about US attorney you are dealing with this many would argue what we're talking about OP or it's I should say what we talk opiates and we're talking about. The the crisis that were in. You know. This is really sort of the tip of the spear I mean we're talking. You know the war on drugs from eighties the federal government. You know you guys are the ones that are kind of dealing with this from the 35000. Foot view and also. Right on main street as well. We certainly Aaron I think. The way I look at it and you'll be always is a threat and is it with any threat I think we sort of have to protection mechanisms in society. When we're confronted with the threat I think back to September 11 2001. How do we feel it today I mean I think you know my first reaction you know when when confronted with death threat was. I wanted vengeance and you know I wanted to make somebody pay for the pain it had been caused it. That the country that I love so much and people and so really I think that that's something it's hard wired into our brain and we have this innate. Desired hold people responsible for the consequences of their action that's accountability. That's what we do with the US attorney's office it's how we protect ourselves it's how we enforce. You know our social cooperation with others and I think the reason they exist because it works but that's only really half the equation because. The other protection we have against threats is empathy. Beckon Savannah at ten pounds 100000 years ago. There was tons of predators. We have to develop relationships and our ancestors had to develop relationships are one or in order to survive. And by sharing stories ideas experiences. That's sort of how we learn to help each other for the collective benefit of all so really. In the US attorney's office what we do. Is focus on the accountability problem if you will. And we've heard today through these conversations with many of the people for the epic the throng on we just heard from mother who rosters and her son to. An overdose and we heard how her reaction in terms of getting involved with the opening task force and army tremendous work they've done so. Inning the Department of Justice we've adapt as sort of a three pronged strategy to approach to attack this opiate problem if you will. Prosecution that's what we do that's our Bailiwick bets as you say David with a tip of the spear. That is accountability but there's other components to it too it's a three legged stool. Prevention. Treatment those are sort of the epic the thought of it and it there prongs of it I think that you know it's important to note that in 2017. In Erie county here we cite actual reduction. In the number of hope overdose deaths 11%. That's unheard of nationwide and I think it's because of you know that were ahead of the curve in terms of both our enforcement law are forward leaning prosecutions that we're taking here combined with the community partners we have. It you know it is as we talk about all the yours and you you represented one area of the federal government be the US attorney's office there is another area of government called the FDA the FDA following clinical trials and accepted scientific protocols. Has declared certain medications to be safe and effective when used as directed. Therefore do you believe it is accurate sense. The government for which you work as a team these medications to be safe and effective when used as directed is it fair to call those same medications voice. I think is so long as used as directed that's the key the key phrase time I think that you know certainly with Sophia writes I mean OP always. Covers of Avaya a very broad range of topics I mean. Fend off for example. Illicit fentanyl and I'm not referring to the finalist used it you know in in treating us severe pain. Incidents but the illicit fentanyl is coming from. China being shipped here through the Postal Service and being also transported through the Mexican cartels that have sort of seen the avoid. Are seen the money making opportunity. A kilogram Arafat not to be purchased in China for between three to 5000 dollars. And once sold on the illicit market can generate revenue of over one and a half billion dollars. That's a lot of that's a lot of money that's a big a big profit margin. Can also. One kilogram offense off and kill up to 500000. People so it's super potent. That the its legality is really unmatched you know it's thirty to fifty times more potent and heroin and then there's derivatives of fend off such as car fentanyl which is even a hundred times more potent. In fact now so it's really what we're seeing locally and nationally is most of these overdose deaths now associated. It you know with the opiates are really coming from fat off. I mean you have. I think that that is an important distinction I mean nobody nobody wants to see people turning in answer to drug addicts I mean even if you know you go with the legal drugs I mean people who were stoned and booze all the time there are no fun to be around people or stoned and we'd all the time enough fun to be around. And I'm said he believes in drug legalization by the way in case you don't know. But JP Kennedy is US attorney for our area of New York State. And I wanna get sued the the overdose. Death statistic you site because there's something that is of concern to me views obviously. You know we got to triage situation. The deaths that we are seen. The overdoses we are seeing. How many of these are more tab and perk cassette and how many of the overdose deaths are spread so quickly. The heroin that is laced with this fentanyl which is bad news and by the way. You know I I I cringe when I hear about bad Irwin because to me. All girl band is bad so what are we talking about in terms of the deaths what is actually doing the killing of people. It is affect really it is and it's it was a game changer when it was introduced here that's sort of when we saw about five years ago. When the illicit fentanyl was introduced into. The marketplace during the congress was placed in heroin its place and it's placed in. We've seen in cocaine we've even seen in marijuana so it's it is totally lethal and it is really what has sort of been. And it resulted in sort of the steep slope upward of of the overdose deaths so you're right I mean in terms of that to traditional Fiore is that you mentioned the Nazis and things like that I mean the problem becomes when people. Either developed. An immunity to them and ABC is stronger drug or more often than not what happens is. If they can no longer get those drugs they turn either because it's cheaper or because they have access to it too. These street drugs and that's that's when you know it becomes. Really deadly. Endeavor JP from from the water. Forced him perspective operating of the US attorney's office. Yeah what what red flags are you guys looking for a little side business to know what what red flags are are you looking for. In terms of what triggers an investigation. At the US attorney's office is it involved from DC AA. Is it see guys with the US attorney's office but it how do people get on the radar and are you focused more on. Illicit doctors operating out of these houses were you pay cash 500 bucks basically no questions that and get your script and Huckabee there dresses if you like is that the debris a list of the way they practice. But to me it. What what exactly sure what role. And in cooperation with the EE NE I mean do you have DEA people on staff but can you can you put us on the inside the US attorney's office when it comes to getting to the root of a there early and fentanyl which is killing people. And peace that people were pop them. Otherwise safe open yours like popcorn which it is safe way. Right well that's I mean is very broad question Tom I think that you know we we. The answer is yes we do all of those things and I mean it's just just to give you an idea. We have within our office I think a third of our office we have sixty lowers between buffalo. And Rochester and and a third of them are devoted essentially to. Drug investigations drugs and violent crime so. We have we work with partnership with the DEA we work with all the local law enforcement as well. I'm obviously with fend off that's sort of we've developed pretty much zero tolerance policy when it comes depend on the were prosecuting all those cases especially since. Many of the derivatives offend on the analog to fentanyl are not so illegal in your states that were the only game in town in terms of being able to prosecute those cases in. Obviously because of the danger involved with. That. And now we we've. Really gone after her and focused on ten so we. Yeah I mean we we've taken we've we've charged in in our office alone seventeen different individuals. With death results under the title when he won in Mexico and insight to what that means is these are the equivalent federal murder charges 120 year mandatory minimum maximum life imprisonment if we can prove. Through but for causation in other words the drugs that I gave you were those that resulted in your death. Which is sometimes not an easy proposition to prove but if we can do that we can you. Would receive a mandatory minimum term prison and twenty years so it's a very powerful tool that we have and it's one that we've. Not been afraid exercise we've charged seventeen individuals. With her seventeen different death results from that. You know it it with that crime and I think that you know it is it was really sort of eye opening to me. When in my duties. I'm on the attorney general advisory committee for controlled substances and recently I was in Philadelphia and edit regional organized crime drug enforcement task force. Meeting and there are representatives of various US attorney's offices throughout the northeast there and you know a and we were specifically recognized by the director of the high intensity drug trafficking. Unit in New York State in your city. Danny Chauncey Parker called buffalo while for being sort of very proactive and forward leaning in the manner in which returns some of these cases. I can report that another northeast city which was shall remain remain nameless but whom the Buffalo Bills may or may not played twice each year. They've charged zero cases of death results and I think that that's really disservice to our job in the executives to enforce federal law congress enacts a law it's our job to enforce it is written. Yet it is hourly and albeit this is twelve voices in twelve hours JP Kennedy US attorney for our part of the world is in the studio. And we encourage you to attend a free open to the public. Meeting. I'm hoping your eggs tonight 6 until 8 o'clock I want the high school you know. When you look at your career in the early ninety's you were part. Of organized crime task force. Dealing with drugs it was a sexier time that would go to the days we took photos. Of the big table of cocaine. Right and the packets of heroin and it was you know this this what we had a way to sort of see drugs as almost. A foreign invader there there wasn't this idea that everyone in the suburbs knew someone. When you look at the crisis we have today. You have people in. It in 1993. You never would have thought that. When I look at my career in the future as the US attorney and a talk about. Heroin deaths in Clarence New York bred or heroin deaths in areas that never stopped organized crime and you sort of task force here. So. Take away that how would you keep morale up that your office. When the enemy that we're fighting here is is literally it it's it could be Graham is. You know drug cap where were these kids are are getting a gateway into this thing or what's causing an overdose or work that all's involved. It's not the guys in. You know the Cubans from mom Miami at the nightclub anymore it's seventeen year old kids are fifteen year old kids at a party that are trying to for the first time in the gone. Right well I think gets it is so pervasive and so many touches so many lives as we've heard here today I mean to all the conversations that you had and I commend. You're station for you know hit giving voice to all these different perspectives. This whole thing was my idea I thank you you guys ever a solution thank you sir Tim heard exactly. But anyways I think that I mean I. It's if it's not hard to keep morale up because we really feel like we're saving lives and now often say that. I had the privilege of working for the only government. Agency name for virtue and his Department of Justice so the extent that we can help save lives it's it's very motivated I can't tell you. The number of hours that are worked you know by the attorneys in my office old leave you know. Go downstairs to our drug unit 7:8 o'clock o'clock at night. This weekend I mean therein therein Saturdays are working Friday nice in the search warrant for. You know different cases I mean that there's just that it's it's it's a sense of not how might people motivated it's how to write sort of give them a break because they feel so I'm there so. Engrossed in committed to what they do and it's really a credit to I mean that the tremendous people going back to Dennis Rocco that you mention that hired me in. You know that the line of US attorneys and followed have done a tremendous job staffing and office with some of the most. Brilliant dedicated people who can imagine well that. Status is threatening Michael reportable we're not gonna hold that against him. All right stay stay with us in studio this is twelve voices in twelve hours we are talking about all the Lloyds. A little something for our FaceBook page you guys to open themselves up because I'm not. I've always been very clear about the distinction. And by who wagered Eumig kick out of is that. You guys have been such a good job talking about sentinel. That I'm having a heart attack there about to do the Ngo on me and they say we're gonna give you that all right now it's like what you are it's known that and that all. But Annette that's something that my god. That is just a death sentence and I. I think David has brought a great point and look there's there's lots of money to be made in drugs and the organized crime and you can be successful drug dealer unless you are connected and you don't get connected publisher part of a larger networks that we need to talk about. The heroin fentanyl connection in in 28 team. Where the supplies coming from and who's in charge of the business right now so we definitely one unit coming up. Because you're US attorney here in Western New York. We're back to buy hourly and morality of this is twelve voices in twelve hours. Of Hebron with them and this would be boys and JP Kennedy US attorney US attorney. And and so certain you know thank you for giving us your time and you know one of the things we talked about during the break was. The the job that you had in the early ninety's when it came to the war on drugs. There was this mindset that there was an enemy that we kind of put our our you know our our target here's are cross hairs out. Yeah it was organized crime it was coming from Mexico's coming from Central America. As much as we want to point out the Asian market and how things are coming from Seattle Washington or things are coming from the southern border. Border walls and everything else you still have people right now that have addiction issues. They're going to find. You know whatever is is gonna meet that the cravings that they're having right now. But the bad guy that the person that we want to prosecute for selling it or moving it. Often times it could be a doctor with 7000. Patients and half of which are really. In need of this drug for for cancer but unfortunately. There's another group that that aren't. We could be looking at people that are seventeen year old kids that are moving this stuff four or now we have you know addicts and are in the seventies. With patches and whatnot. And you you can't do the press coverage in the old days. Where you can you know string out the cartel guys and everyone Ra Ras as we celebrate the death of MS thirteen this this. The bad guys here could be our neighbors and our friends here that's June. It is in some ways I guess the enemy is us and mean and I think that a lot of you know Tom do you think you're pretty much a libertarian it's a not a conservative area right and so I mean it. People I think we need to look at the root cause of wire people using drugs and I think a lot of a lot of parents for example I think assume that kids use drugs because they're fine. Well there's been study after study show that drugs you know our fifteenth on the list of sixteen of reasons why kids use drugs. It's to forget their troubles it's to deal with problems at home is cope with school pressure there's there's root causes of which you know result in people. Using drugs in that it. Again that's not anything necessarily we can address in my office but that's why I began Rory didn't terms of needing to sort of have the accountability from the tip of the spear that's what we do that's what we're geared to do. But we can't do it all. There's clearly there's clearly demand. And I mean gonna George Carlin used to talk about for whatever reason people like to get messed up from time to time. The problem is of course that for persons with a family history of addiction or people who work prone to addiction. Just trying it once or doing it every now and again. Doesn't work because some of the substances like heroin it is so easy. To get hooked out of after one shot and you're always chasing this dragon that neuro chemical you're never gonna get again because the first is always going to be your best now. And in terms of western new York power area. We hear it in terms of the distribution. Networks are their competing. Organized crime groups. Do we have MS thirteen competing with cause and those drug competing with whatever is left of the polish and Irish sayings. The motorcycle gangs I mean who who are the big players me without obviously getting us and we'll litigation situation but. Who were the big players involved and as one gang all the Western New York territory. No and we don't have MS thirteen and questionnaire which is a key I mean. Somewhat everyone's surprise that they can and must you know we're very happy about it too but what we see a lot more that the traditional neighborhoods sort of street gangs that are you know not necessarily affiliated with national gangs that are sort of posse if you will and and we we use our Rico statute which is enacted for. Via you know. Organized crime and then that the mafia and basically use that statute to prosecute these gains in fact be dispensed prosecution last week involving. Not necessarily. Although the word drug dealing was certainly part of the racketeering activities alleged involving kings and motorcycle club that we diet I'm. Nice job by the way that things that was not easy on Joseph Trippi who is actually the head of our strategic operations in prosecutions unit. Tried that case along with for any cause and and it DOJ attorney but. Time that it Dixie mentioning that reminds me of I've gone back to point you made earlier. One of the things they did ranking is turning his. Begin a strategic operations of prosecution section which was basically to use analytics to start prosecuting cases to look at. Who are the worst of the worst the alpha criminals if you will not just the gang members but where the shooters in the game or where the people that are handling the fat at all in the gang. And we've been targeting them rather than relying upon whoever the informant has the hopper he oftentimes his sister competition. But you know whoever it may be that they they bring us so we've been using crime analysis crime analysis senator and Erie county the sort of look at the overdose deaths Cheektowaga. Thanks to Earl B task forces has. Made available to. And every overdose in Cheektowaga. Dave Mason the police offer that they use available to members of the task force so that they when there is. Overdose or narc and recovery they can respond that is the task force voters to respond to get information on treatment to these people so I mean. We're trying to use created new strategies to deal with some of these things. Is it. Is it frustrating in a way and enlisted call me old school I don't really want my US attorney to beast on meet up with these types of cases to meet. This is a tremendous waste. And I and I mean this out and you're the federal government I mean at RO I think we failed. At the community level because. You don't you should be holding press count which is about terrorism and about gangs and about protecting American consumers from being exploited from. And now what we're talking about are things like wait a minute. If we're truly this outraged. In this crisis as listeners as people listen to this program hearing from addicts and everyone else. That would put up local cop shoots a guy with fifty bags of heroin out of maybe we don't have a black lives matter rally at that moment if if heroin is such a crisis and we're so outraged. Maybe we don't look toward US attorney and say hey JP save us. How about we show a little bit of consistency. And and realize that if we're going to be tough on these things we have to be topped the state level we have to be tough at the village and town level we make these arrests. It back to work very JP talked about in terms of the the analytics and maybe a real world example of this domain. You know armchair detectives. When we hear about a whole bunch of overdoses taking place around the same area around the same time. When you say analytics are you talking about look let's go through everybody's cell phones and let's see the nexus let's see what the common phone numbers are all the these people who over deed and then that you try it although it's probably going to be a burner you try to go after the person who owns that cell phone is that what you mean when you say analytics. Yes I mean that that it that would be one technique where we see a cluster of overdoses in that particular location. Polls cell site information south tower formation trying develop a pattern look for. You know look through if especially if there's a death oftentimes I mean. One of the things that we don't with the task forces to get every overdose. Seen treated as a homicide scene go through the phone have law enforcement go through the phone see who who who this person was in contact with C with a tactic. At that point there is no expectation of privacy the person at the persons deceased because. That they're not around anymore to you know express their fourth and he's an interest that. Proper venue legally can you legally explain to people the significance. Of what you just said treating an overdose death. Like a crime scene because I don't think a lot of people quite fathom exactly the ramifications of that. Right and at. Typically historically you know when there was a overdose death that was obviously if you know family of fine. The person often Kaiser family may be clean up sort of cover up if you well not not and I don't mean that nefarious sense but just you know before calling. On please respond obviously be very sad situation they would sort of do whatever they. Needed to do in terms of you know pouncing cause of death at that point is getting the person out of there. We've now. I'm working with our partners on the task force with law enforcement. Really pushed out working with us this EPS. Commissioner here and in in buffalo. To. Get law enforcement and first responders if there's an overdose death collect evidence. Because a lot of the evidence as I said earlier and returned to death results we need to pharmacological evidence to show that the tax that fact ecology report to show that the drug suit there were and at little self same day he that was recovered at the scene. As the same chemical constituency that were found inside the body that this deceased person. We collect their phone look at the phone. Fine yeah it's amazing how many cases we've been able to build just upon text messages you know where person the dealer warns the person. Hey be careful this stuffs fire I mean you know basically acknowledging their own. Recognition of the fact that they're they're peddling poison attempt and and we learned that some addicts actually want that dose objective of these elements actually more desirable right that's I mean I'd I am I will never you'll never hear me at a press conference say you know that this is a bad bad because that's. It almost a catch phrase forward for the attic like. You know this is stuff by more than half so she actually worried about causing more of a demand for something if you talk about how opponent exactly why wow that's incredible. I'm typically speaking. I mean. How much I mean without obviously giving way to tips of the trade. Or. And the radar of the US attorney here in Western New York. Somebody's gotta be moving all. A lot of heroin fentanyl correct well not necessarily mean it certainly refocus on that I mean generally the people that we prosecute we don't prosecute users typically it's its dealers. But because of the policy a fan all I mean it's as I said earlier we have zero tolerance policy it's it's it is so it's like. Giving as somebody in armed gun error or as loaded gun in in saying here. And so I mean we have zero talents that so they don't necessarily have to be the biggest dealers but we we are after the people. Who are in it for money whether they're drug dealers whether there is he's. Described earlier sort of the thirty doctors and there's very few of them and I mean I'd I don't wanna portray. 99.9. Percent of the physicians that we deal with fire you know obviously very attuned to this issue and increasingly so and are being very. Careful on the manor which they prescribed we have charged 78 doctors in the course my tenure in the office and the only way that we can charge doctors are. By being able to prove. That the prescriptions that they dealt with in these typically are not the fatal overdose that's what they can lead to it by a sort of creating the that the monster if you will of the addict and then. If that person gets cut off then you need to that. Turning to heroin fentanyl but generally the only way we can prosecute doctors are if the prescriptions of Iran are outside the usual course of medical practice not for legitimate medical purpose. So that that would include things like priest any scripts without. Conducting no examination of a patient. You know having undercover we have undercover patients will go into a doctor. And ask for drugs and get them without any examination. BJ case where person was trading scripts for. Toilet paper gas grill a box of toilet paper gas going to get drugs. You know so that there were really really looking at the Al liars here so I mean I don't wanna give the sense that that we're after doctors rise after doctors they're part of the solution. Much more so in the air part of the problem. I your body your predecessor was very heavily involved. In the case. Dealing with somebody I know social period as well as medically and I'm not gonna I think after refused myself for many questions about that particular matter and in that it is yet to be adjudicated and you can't talk about that specific case serves up and they don't want an answer hormonal problems mean ethically ethically I just can't vote at JP can either because it's a pending yeah matter. Hey you. Why and where again where a twelve voices twelve hours talking OP noise that we have your security IGP Kennedy hourly and Olivia. In studio with US attorney JP Kennedy twelve voices in twelve hours tonight open to the public free Ottawa school six until you. It is a forum on all you believe that JP caddie US attorney in the western district you know we talk about we focus all the time on here. We focus all the time on. It almost seems like the only way the final kill these kids it's a needle. And here but we're seeing that it's sometimes Ecstasy that's laced sometimes it's cocaine. It's not a junkie. That is I mean if if it was only affecting what we call people that would you know junkies status or people come you know addicted have lost a lot this Libyan crisis. This is hitting a kid for the first time that decides. To try something just graduate high school let's celebrate. They're dying. Because of exposure to fat now. And it's if any time don't do drugs just saying no would be to catch phrase that would really be now more than 1982. That really is a prevention I know seems somewhat like an anachronism but it really is I mean you don't know what you're getting and you don't know. Whether it's you know cocaine. May even marijuana were seen it and one particularly insidious case he had down the southern tier. We've we arrested some people with fentanyl they had a co press so they're they were just sort of eyeballing it from these. You know making pills to make them look like act CC so that they thought there was some. You know. Pharmaceutical quality control on nine and oh there was not a dollars and number older overdose deaths down there it was really. Mean that it's so dangerous and it's it really is scary when you know he used to think even it even if you're taking me thinking at least being somewhat clear had to do think. And and at least moderate right dosage by taking something that at least is you know pharmaceuticals manufactured in effect it's not that's I mean that's particularly heinous. But it's almost like you can go through Western New York ydstie cities or our towns that are really struggling. And link it right through this epidemic Jimmy Jamestown, New York. You know people like we'll Jamestown had better days we'll look at the amount of people that have succumbed with fentanyl overdoses in that area it's like this is the cloud. That comes to a town and ruins the town it sure isn't it very unwelcome circus comes to town it's really it's it's. It's scary and it's. You know I hate I don't know. We haven't seen here but even even and other areas we're staying at the the other drugs that we're seeing that are sort of and again I know we're focusing I don't know the only stable we're seeing a lot now with resurgence of meth and meth being sort of it's just a slower death. But it basically these are the same since the stay in place and it's been. A problem Al elsewhere that we had sort of fortunately. In the historically. Avoided greatly but is not not anymore and it's it's it's coming back with a vengeance and again it's just that as I said earlier this Florida. No we were rapidly are running out of time but the US attorney's office that and David brought up the point about fentanyl that ship it's not just with heroin anymore how many cases in the last year to have you seen where unscrupulous dealers have mixed in fentanyl with pot were mixed in fentanyl with Coke. Well. Not a tonne fortunately I mean I'm being honest I mean we've seen we've seen more than a dozen or so where it's it's happened but I think it's increasingly. It's just so cheap and it's it's easy to sort of created demand instantly. To an unwitting user and it's really and they they have marked and for life. JP cavity which it worked so that your it's important and we'll talk about this and a lot of other stuff as well. But to do and thanks for Evian thank you to WB and for doing it's it's a tremendous depth for the community that this program today. Why it likewise we got so many at tech rescue is when you have the king's men press conference at just how am really strong language. Appropriate. The way you were sort of addressing who what type of people were talking about here. We heard that from president trump talk with MS thirteen gang members with these are animals and we got to hear so good work. Thank you thank JP Kennedy US attorney for western new York and we'll get back in studio it was shipment regularly personally but that's just me.