The Collier County Sheriff’s Office has a new tool in the fight against illegal drugs. The White House’s Office of National DrugControl Policy recently announced that Collier County would be designated as part of the South Florida’s High Intensity Drug Trafficking Area (HIDTA).
Investigations Captain Thomas Storrar said the Sheriff’s Office applied for the designation, which opens up federal resources for drug investigations and allows for additional federal funds that can be used in drug operations such as for overtime and drug buys.
“Frankly, we’re looking into the future and we suspect there’s a possibility we’ll see an increase in drug trafficking in South Florida,” said Captain Storrar.
Captain Storrar noted that CCSO’s Vice and Narcotics Bureau detectives have been attending monthly South Florida HIDTA task force meetings for years. In April, the agency began partnering with the Washington-Baltimore HIDTA in an electronic mapping program that tracks suspected heroin overdoses in real time.
Southwest Florida Congressman Mario Diaz Balart sent a letter to the White House in support of CCSO’s HIDTA application.
“Designation as part of the South Florida High Intensity Drug Trafficking Area will provide the Collier County Sheriff’s Office with the resources it needs to combat this problem,” Congressman Diaz-Balart said in a news release.
“It will also offer CCSO the opportunity to partner with federal, state and local agencies to address the drug-related issues that our community faces.
Drug trafficking cases can be complex and costly, and no single agency has sufficient resources to adequately address drug crimes. Collaboration with other agencies is vital, and I was proud to support the Sheriff’s Office in this initiative.”
Collier was among 16 counties across the nation to receive the HIDTA designation. The designation will enable those counties to receive federal resources to further the coordination and development of drug control efforts among federal, state and local law enforcement officers. With these extra resources, HIDTA can provide interagency collaboration, promote the sharing of intelligence and information, and provide specialized training and other resources to participating law enforcement and treatment agencies.
“Drug trafficking is a national problem that has to be addressed on the local level, and adding these counties to the HIDTA program is a critical part of this effort,” Richard Baum, acting director of the Office of National Drug Control Policy, said in a news release.
“These new designations and the funding they will bring will help our federal, state and local law enforcement officers work together to disrupt and dismantle the trafficking networks that are bringing drugs into our communities.”
IN ADDITION TO COLLIER, THE NEWLY-DESIGNATED COUNTIES ARE:
- Sullivan County in Tennessee and Wood County in West Virginia as part ofthe Appalachia HIDTA
- Greenville County in South Carolina as part of the Atlanta/Carolinas HIDTA
- DuPage County in Illinois as part of the Chicago HIDTA
- Martin County as part of the South Florida HIDTA
- St. Clair County in Michigan as part of the Michigan HIDTA
- Ocean County in New Jersey and Oneida County in New York as part of theNew York/New Jersey HIDTA
- Bradford and Union Counties in Florida as part of the North Florida HIDTA
- San Benito County in California as part of the Northern California HIDTA
- Bannock County in Idaho as part of the Oregon/Idaho HIDTA
- Montgomery County in Pennsylvania as part of the Philadelphia/CamdenHIDTA
- Taos County in New Mexico as part of the Southwest Border HIDTA – NewMexico Region
- Dorchester County in Maryland as part of the Washington/Baltimore HIDTA
The HIDTA program was created by Congress in 1988 and 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 HIDTA sassess drug-trafficking problems and design specific initiatives to decrease the production, transportation, and distribution of drugs. There are currently 28 HIDTAs located in 49 states, as well as in Puerto Rico, the U.S. Virgin Islands, and the District of Columbia.