US Attorney Moran: Injection sites ‘unquestionably’ violate law

Apr 9, 2019, 2:00 PM | Updated: 2:01 pm
I-27, heroin, safe injection site...
Supporters of safe injection sites like Insite in Vancouver, BC. Seattle and King County aim to establish similar locations. (KIRO 7)
(KIRO 7)

When it comes to the possibility of supervised injection sites in the Puget Sound region, U.S. Attorney Brian Moran has one clear message: “It unquestionably violates U.S. federal law.”

Moran serves the Western District of Washington. Following the recommendations of the King County Opiate Addiction Task Force, King County and the City of Seattle have plans to establish two supervised consumption sites — one in the city and one elsewhere in the county.

If this happens, Moran said last week, there would be grounds for a federal lawsuit.

RELATED: Why Seattle should wait on CHEL sites

While speaking with KIRO Radio’s Dori Monson Tuesday, Moran said that “the law is pretty clear” that it is “unlawful to maintain, promote, or stand up, or use a drug house.” In his view, a supervised injection site amounts to little more than a drug house.

He added that the federal law contains neither good-faith exceptions on this subject, nor exceptions for the establishment of such a site by a local government.

Both sides of the consumption site debate agree on one point — the opioid epidemic has reached a crisis level in Seattle, in King County, and throughout the nation. More people now die annually from opioid overdoses than car accidents in Washington.

Moran sees a distinct link between prosecution and overdoses. Nationally, there were 64,000 overdose deaths in 2016. At the same time, he pointed out, federal drug prosecutions went down 23 percent between 2011 and 2016, and drug trafficking sentences also decreased by 20 percent in those years.

“This is just something that the federal government can’t just sit idly by and watch, a safe injection site, a safe drug house, go forward,” he said.

After his appointment to the position of U.S. attorney in January, Moran said he had a “valuable conversation” with City of Seattle Attorney Pete Holmes. During this discussion, he told Holmes that he would not under any circumstance support supervised injection sites.

“I advised him that I wouldn’t sit idly by and allow Seattle to stand with them,” Moran said. “He was accepting of it; it was a good conversation. It’s the way I hope most of these conversations go.”

In response to Moran’s statements last week on injection sites, Seattle Mayor Jenny Durkan told KIRO Radio that the city has “to try a whole bunch of tools in order to have a harm-reduction model instead of a punitive model.”

Moran does draws the line at prosecuting marijuana — legal in Washington and a handful of other states, but illegal federally — which he sees as a completely “different issue.”

“I’ve got 60, give or take, criminal prosecutors who just do not have the bandwidth to fight that fight,” he said. “The voters have spoken. I’ve got higher priorities — sex trafficking, overdose deaths. It’s just not a place I want to put this district’s lawyers to work in.”

On a similar note, Moran can understand why Snohomish and King Counties no longer prosecute personal possession amounts of drugs. He pointed out that, just like his office stays away from prosecute marijuana possession, it is a “question of limited prosecution resources.”

Instead, Moran sets his sights on the bigger picture.

“I’m more focused on using my resources to go after major Mexican cartels that are pumping kilo, after kilo, after kilo of fentanyl, methamphetamine, opioids into this district,” he said. “I think that’s where we can be the most useful. If you get rid of supply, you make the problem better.”

Drug traffickers, take heed.

“In this district, if you’re moving large amounts of heroin, methamphetamine, opioids, fentanyl, we’re coming after you,” he said. “We are going to make your life difficult, we will prosecute you vigorously, we will add mandatory minimums, and we will make your life miserable.”


Dori Monson on KIRO Newsradio 97.3 FM
  • listen to dori monsonTune in to KIRO Newsradio weekdays at 12 noon for The Dori Monson Show.

Dori Monson Show

Dori Monson

Dori Monson Show

Dori: Triple killer to be released unless Gov. Inslee overrules parole board

After 42 years behind bars, convicted killer Timothy Pauley, 63, has been approved for release by the Washington Indeterminate Sentencing Review Board.
1 day ago
Marysville School District...
Dori Monson Show

Dori: Parent permission for Marysville school clubs becomes `hot button’ over LGTBQ issue

The intent to the proposed policy change, Atchley said, is to assure that parents “have the ability to know where their children are at all times.”
5 days ago
OlyToys, Don Wolph's toy refurbishing business in Olympia....
Dori Monson Show

Dori: Olympia Toy-Restorer ordered by County to kick disabled friend off his property

Wolph told Dori’s listeners, Thurston County officials have told him he and his wife of 47 years must evict their friend because “she cannot live on my property for more than 30 days.”
6 days ago
Sound Transit employee records video of homeless individuals on light rail. (Jason Rantz/KTTH Radio...
Dori Monson Show

Dori: The Sound Transit rolling drug den

Onboard: a series of apparently homeless drug addicts, riding the train while smoking various drugs or passed out across the seats.
8 days ago
A ferry and a tanker pass through the Puget Sound near Seattle's iconic Pike Place Market on March ...
Dori Monson Show

Dori: Internal ferry system memos show PR image more important than service

The Washington State Ferry System preemptively slashed sailings rather than face ongoing negative publicity for possible service disruptions.
9 days ago
Bus driver Treva White   in Seattle, Washington. (Photo by Karen Ducey/Getty Images)...
Dori Monson Show

Dori: Metro driver worries about bus passengers’ exposure to secondhand drug smoke

How much secondhand smoke from drug users riding Metro Transit buses is too much? It’s something 22-year driver worries about for his passengers.
13 days ago

Sponsored Articles


Anacortes – A Must Visit Summertime Destination

While Anacortes is certainly on the way to the San Juan Islands (SJI), it is not just a destination to get to the ferry… Anacortes is a destination in and of itself!

Ready for your 2022 Alaskan Adventure with Celebrity Cruises?

Celebrity Cruises SPONSORED — A round-trip Alaska cruise from Seattle is an amazing treat for you and a loved one. Not only are you able to see and explore some of the most incredible and visually appealing natural sights on the planet, but you’re also able to relax and re-energize while aboard a luxury cruise […]

Compassion International Is Determined to ‘Fill’ a Unique Type of Football ‘Stadium’

Compassion International SPONSORED — During this fall’s football season—and as the pandemic continues to impact the entire globe—one organization has been urging caring individuals to help it “fill” a unique type of “stadium” in order to make a lasting difference in the lives of many. Compassion International’s distinctive Fill the Stadium (FtS, initiative provides […]

What are the Strongest, Greenest, Best Windows?

Lake Washington Windows & Doors SPONSORED — Fiberglass windows are an excellent choice for window replacement due to their fundamental strength and durability. There is no other type of window that lasts as long as fiberglass; so why go with anything else? Fiberglass windows are 8x stronger than vinyl, lower maintenance than wood, more thermally […]

COVID Vaccine is a Game-Changer for Keeping our Kids Healthy

Snohomish Health District SPONSORED — Cheers to the parents and guardians who keep their kids safe and healthy. The dad who cooks a meal with something green in it, even though he’s tired and drive-thru burgers were tempting. The mom who calms down the little one who loudly and resolutely does NOT want to brush […]
Experience Anacortes

Coastal Christmas Celebration Week in Anacortes

With minimal travel time required and every activity under the sun, Anacortes is the perfect vacation spot for all ages.
US Attorney Moran: Injection sites ‘unquestionably’ violate law