BANGOR — The nation’s drug czar says 19 Maine communities will share $7.5 million over the next five years to fight drug abuse.

Michael Botticelli, acting director of the White House’s Office of National Drug Control Policy, made the announcement as he traveled to Bangor, where he’s leading a town hall forum on opioid abuse Wednesday evening. The event is being hosted by Bangor Mayor Ben Sprague and Bangor Region Chamber of Commerce CEO John Porter.

On Tuesday, the U.S. Department of Justice awarded $905,102 to the Maine Drug Enforcement Agency. The funding will allow MDEA Director Roy McKinney to hire four new drug agents to work exclusively on identifying and investigating complaints of suspected methamphetamine manufacturing.

Botticelli says five extra communities are included in the grant that targets opioid abuse.

On Thursday, he’ll visit a recovery center in Portland.

Botticelli, who battled alcoholism years ago, is the first person in recovery from addiction to hold this position in government. His office says he’s determined to confront the nation’s opioid epidemic.

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