This week Michael Botticelli, Director of the Office of National Drug Control Policy, announced $13.4 million in funding for High Intensity Drug Trafficking Areas (HIDTA). Of that, $5 million will be directed to a broad range of efforts that will reduce the trafficking, distribution, and use of heroin – a drug that has emerged as a serious threat to multiple regions of the United States.
$2.5 million will fund the Heroin Response Strategy, an unprecedented partnership among five regional HIDTA programs — Appalachia, New England, Philadelphia/Camden, New York/New Jersey, and Washington/Baltimore — to address the severe heroin threat facing those communities through public health-public safety partnerships across 15 states.
“The High Intensity Drug Trafficking Areas program helps Federal, state, and local authorities to coordinate drug enforcement operations, support prevention efforts and improve public health and safety,” Botticelli said in a news release. “The new Heroin Response Strategy demonstrates a strong commitment to address the heroin and prescription opioid epidemic as both a public health and a public safety issue. This Administration will continue to expand community-based efforts to prevent drug use, pursue ‘smart on crime’ approaches to drug enforcement, increase access to treatment, work to reduce overdose deaths, and support the millions of Americans in recovery.”
Nearly $4 million in HIDTA funds will support prevention efforts in 18 regional HIDTA programs, many of which draw upon key partnerships between law enforcement agencies and their counterparts in public health and education.
In recognition of the unique drug challenges faced by law enforcement agencies in the region along the U.S.–Mexico border, $1.3 million in HIDTA funds will be directed to the five regional HIDTA programs along the Southwest border. These funds will be used to enhance investigative efforts against large-scale transnational criminal organizations, reduce the flow of dangerous drugs (including heroin and methamphetamine) across the border, and prevent drug use in border communities.
Nearly $500,000 will be directed toward addressing drug threats on tribal lands. Regional HIDTA programs in six states will receive funding to investigate and dismantle the organizations that exploit tribal communities to traffic and distribute dangerous drugs.
Created by Congress in 1988, the HIDTA program serves as a catalyst for coordination among Federal, state, local, and tribal law enforcement agencies operating in areas determined to be critical drug trafficking regions of the United States. Law enforcement organizations working within HIDTAs assess drug-trafficking issues and design specific initiatives to decrease the production, transportation, distribution, and chronic use of drugs and money laundering. There are currently 28 HIDTAs located in 48 states, as well as in Puerto Rico, the U.S. Virgin Islands, and the District of Columbia.
The Heroin Response Strategy will foster a collaborative network of public health-public safety partnerships to address the heroin/opioid epidemic from multiple perspectives. The Strategy will enhance the efficacy and efficiency of the criminal intelligence process in support of cooperative law enforcement operations. The five HIDTAs will create a 15-state network of experienced, connected law enforcement contacts and leverage these connections and information-gathering capabilities with a strong, complementary, analytical capacity.