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 33 HIDTAs, and HIDTA-designated counties are located in 50 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 more than 1,500 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 2021 HIDTA annual budget is $290 million.
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.