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New FBI, DEA, ATF office opens in Paducah

Derek Operle
FBI assistant special agent Brian Jones, U.S. Senator Mitch McConnell, DEA special agent J. Todd Scott, and ATF assistant special agent A.J. Gibes cut the ribbon on a new Paducah facility that will host agents from the three federal law enforcement agencies on Thursday, Jan. 12, 2023.

A new Paducah office will serve as a western Kentucky facility for three different federal law enforcement agencies.

The ribbon cutting Thursday was attended by U.S. Senator Mitch McConnell and several federal and local law enforcement officials.

This office will host agents from the Federal Bureau of Investigation, the Drug Enforcement Administration, and the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms, and Explosives.

McConnell spoke briefly at the ceremony, saying the office’s opening signified progress.

“Having this new building is a symbol – a symbol of recommitment to fighting crime in this part of Kentucky,” McConnell said.

The U.S. senator said local officials – most notably former U.S. Attorney for the Western District of Kentucky Russell Coleman – had been pushing for a new FBI office since the agency closed its Paducah field office in 2007. McConnell credited Coleman with keeping the pressure on at the federal level to bring the agency back to western Kentucky.

Plans for an expanded FBI presence in Paducah were initially announced by McConnell in 2018, the same year the DEA announced a planned facility.

DEA agents started working out of a small space in the McCracken County Regional Jail in 2018 and the FBI shared space with the ATF when they came back to Paducah in 2020. Now, DEA special agent J. Todd Scott is excited about what they’ll be able to do with this shared workspace.

“Being co-located with our law enforcement counterparts in this beautiful new facility will allow us to better serve the people of western Kentucky,” said Scott, a Paducah native. “At the end of the day. That's what this is really about. It's about keeping our communities safe. That is our mission.”

Scott said DEA operations in Paducah since 2018 have resulted in over 150 arrests, over 70 criminal investigations, the confiscation of more than 50 firearms, and the seizure of more than $1 million in cash and other assets.

ATF assistant special agent A.J. Gibes also spoke, emphasizing the collaborative efforts that the new space will enable.

“ATF has no higher priority than the safety of the American people. And we will continue to use every resource available to us to protect our communities from violent individuals,” Gibes said. “This new facility will allow ATF, DEA, FBI and also HSI (Homeland Security Investigations) to come under one roof, working shoulder to shoulder along with our local and law enforcement partners to more efficiently share intelligence and coordinate resources for investigations for those responsible for violent crime here in Paducah, and throughout western Kentucky.”

The new, nearly 10,000 square-foot facility currently has two FBI agents assigned with room to expand as needed. The federal government signed a 15-year lease for the Commerce Park building in 2020.

A native of western Kentucky, Operle earned his bachelor's degree in integrated strategic communications from the University of Kentucky in 2014. Operle spent five years working for Paxton Media/The Paducah Sun as a reporter and editor. In addition to his work in the news industry, Operle is a passionate movie lover and concertgoer.
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