New York's, Washington's and Atlanta's federally designated drug-trafficking zones just got a little bigger.
They're called High Intensity Drug Trafficking Areas, to be exact, and they're designed to regionally coordinate law enforcement efforts to tackle issues such as drug production, distribution, chronic use and money laundering. Local, state and federal agencies operating in HIDTAs receive extra equipment, technology and other resources to combat drug trafficking.
Approximately 16% of the nation's counties - encompassing a whopping 60% of the population - fall within one of the 28 HIDTAs, according to the White House Office of National Drug Control Policy.
You can now add the following to the list: Orange County, New York; Mendocino County, California; Porter County, Indiana; Harford County, Maryland; Lexington and Richland counties, South Carolina; and Putnam and Mercer counties, West Virginia.
Border and port cities compose the majority of the HIDTAs, and some areas may cover multiple states. New York and New Jersey are in the same HIDTA, for instance, and Atlanta's HIDTA extends to North Carolina.
"Close collaboration with our federal, state, local, and tribal partners is a critical component of our efforts to reduce both the demand and supply of drugs," ONDCP Director Gil Kerlikowske said in a statement. "By designating these counties as HIDTAs, we will create a powerful catalyst for cooperation among federal, state, local and tribal agencies working to make our communities healthier and safer.â€ť
Comprehensive efforts to address drug-related issues over the last three decades have resulted in an American drug use rate that is about half of what it was in the late 1970s, according to the statement. The Obama administration, it said, has committed more than $10 billion to drug-education programs and treatment for addicts, and more than $9 billion to law enforcement efforts.