TEWKSBURY – Tewksbury Police Chief Ryan Columbus is pleased to announce the launch of a new regional crime task force consisting of four Merrimack Valley Police Departments and the Middlesex Sheriff’s Office.

The Merrimack Valley Anti-Crime Task Force (MVAC) will focus on drug enforcement and related issues, such as prostitution, serial crime, violent crime, organized crime, human trafficking, and fugitive apprehension.

Currently, the task force consists of two full-time members: the Tewksbury Police Department, and the Middlesex Sheriff’s Office. And three part-time members: the Police Departments of Dracut, Chelmsford, and Tyngsborough.

Chief Columbus welcomed the formation of the task force, stating, “We’re not going to stand by and leave unaddressed the growing problem of illegal and dangerous narcotics in the Merrimack Valley. That’s why we’ve partnered with our neighboring departments and the sheriff, and we’ve launched this task force.”

“Drug dealers don’t care about municipal boundaries. By working together, we can more effectively identify their distribution networks and keep deadly substances such as fentanyl away from the community,” Chief Columbus said.

Dracut Police Department Chief Peter Bartlett also welcomed the formation of the task force, saying that, “With the limited personnel issues in Dracut, this type of multi-agency and cooperative effort allows us to address aspects of investigations that we normally couldn’t. Drug dealers capitalize on limited resources, so that’s why we are so appreciative of this partnership and the hard work by each member.”

Tyngsborough Police Department Chief Richard Howe agreed with Chiefs Bartlett and Columbus, saying that, “I’m proud of the collaboration between our police departments. The pooling of our resources is a force multiplier: which is particularly effective considering the limited resources we have to combat these dangerous drugs, and the damage they do in our communities.”

The task force, headed by a Director, currently Chief Columbus, uses a multi-agency approach and encourages joint investigations, and the sharing of resources, knowledge, and information.

Middlesex Sheriff Peter J. Koutoujian thanked Chief Columbus for his lead role in creating the task force and said that, “Through the creation of the task force, we are enhancing our ability to proactively and collectively address some of the most complex criminal issues facing the Merrimack Valley. By combining this new enforcement effort with the nationally recognized intervention and treatment efforts already in place across Middlesex County, I believe we will make a significant difference in strengthening public safety throughout the region.”

Chief Columbus said that the task force is open to expansion, and encouraged police departments in Northeast Massachusetts to consider their preparedness to address the increase of drug trafficking in the region.

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