Nicholas Trutanich has been U.S. attorney for Nevada since January, after being unanimously confirmed by the Senate.
In his 10 months supervising the 61 assistant U.S. attorneys in his office, Trutanich has made combatting gangs and opioid abuse his top priorities.
He told State of Nevada that he thinks Department of Justice crime-abatement programs such as Project Safe Neighborhoods have contributed to an ongoing decline in the state’s violent crime rate.
He said the murder rate had dropped significantly since last year. At this time last year, 103 people had been murdered. So far this year, it stands at 69 victims.
"That’s a program that encompasses enforcement, prevention, treatment, leadership by the U.S. Attorney’s Office, prioritization of targets and staying nimble and being accountable to the crime rates, and making sure that we’re adjusting if we’re off the mark,” he said.
He said one of the pillars of Project Safe Neighborhoods is partnerships and the other is prevention. To that end, the DOJ and their partners are working to get grant money to help set up programs for kids to have options for after school and to have resources to stay out gangs.
On the opioid crisis side, Trutanich said the U.S. Attorney's office was given extra resources in 2017 after Nevada was identified as one of the 12 hotspots for the crisis around the country.
“Since we got those extra resources, we’ve really been a shining star in the country in our enforcement and prevention efforts,” he said.
Trutanich said 20 health care professionals, including doctors, have been indicted in connection with the opioid crisis. He said talking with the families of victims of the crisis is what keeps his office focused.
However, when it comes to another drug, Trutanich is not focused entirely on enforcement.
Marijuana is still illegal under federal law but the voters of the state of Nevada legalized the drug in 2016. Trutanich could go after legalized grow operations in the state but he said he is focused on the priorities of the office, which are preventing violent crime and addressing the opioid crisis.
“I personally have said that I don’t think that Nevada is safer with drugs available on every street corner and that includes marijuana. It is illegal under federal law for a reason. My job is to enforce that and that’s what I’m going to do,” he said.
Trutanich came to Nevada in 2014 to serve as chief of staff for then-state Attorney General Adam Laxalt.
Nicholas Trutanich, U.S. Attorney, Nevada District