The High Intensity Drug Trafficking Areas (HIDTA) program, created by Congress with the Anti-Drug Abuse Act of 1988, provides assistance to Federal, state, local, and tribal law enforcement agencies operating in areas determined to be critical drug-trafficking regions of the United States. This grant program is administered by the Office of National Drug Control Policy (ONDCP). There are currently 28 HIDTAs, which include approximately 18 percent of all counties in the United States and 66 percent of the U.S. population. HIDTA-designated counties are located in 49 states, as well as in Puerto Rico, the U.S. Virgin Islands, and the District of Columbia. The DEA plays a very active role and has nearly 600 authorized special agent positions dedicated to the program. At the local level, the HIDTAs are directed and guided by Executive Boards composed of an equal number of regional Federal and non-Federal (state, local, and tribal) law enforcement leaders. The 2016 HIDTA annual budget is $250 million.
The purpose of the HIDTA program is to reduce drug trafficking and production in the United States by:
- Facilitating cooperation among Federal, state, local, and tribal law enforcement agencies to share information and implement coordinated enforcement activities;
- Enhancing law enforcement intelligence sharing among Federal, state, local, and tribal law enforcement agencies;
- Providing reliable law enforcement intelligence to law enforcement agencies to facilitate the design of effective enforcement strategies and operations; and
- Supporting coordinated law enforcement strategies that make the most of available resources to reduce the supply of illegal drugs in designated areas of the United States and in the Nation as a whole.
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To qualify for consideration as a HIDTA, an area must meet the following criteria:
- The area is a significant center of illegal drug production, manufacturing, importation, or distribution;
- State, local, and tribal law enforcement agencies have committed resources to respond to the drug trafficking problem in the area, thereby indicating a determination to respond aggressively to the problem;
- Drug-related activities in the area are having a significant harmful impact in the area and in other areas of the country; and
- A significant increase in allocation of Federal resources is necessary to respond adequately to drug related activities in the area.