Cuts worry drug enforcement leaders

Loss of funds could hamper war on meth

? A plan to cut money now provided for local drug enforcement efforts has officials in Missouri and Kansas worried it could hamstring their efforts to corral methamphetamine use.

The Bush Administration wants to eliminate $634 million now provided through the Byrne Grant program for drug task forces, and cut funding for the High Intensity Drug Trafficking Areas program, which targets the most drug-infested areas, from $227 million to $100 million.

The president’s Office of National Drug Control Policy said the two programs have drifted from their original intent of focusing on the worst problems. Now, officials said, money from the programs go to a wide range of law enforcement efforts.

“We are trying to put our resources into programs that are focused and accountable, and there has been a concern for a number of years about focus in a program like that,” said Tom Riley, a spokesman for the office.

Members of Congress don’t appear to agree. A Senate committee has agreed to put back almost all the money for the Byrne grants while the House wants to restore about two-thirds of the money. Both chambers are on track to restore the HIDTA program.

But law enforcement in Missouri and Kansas are still wary and say that money can’t be replaced, especially for task forces rooting out meth labs in rural and urban areas.