In a recent press release the Office of the National Drug Control Policy announced the expansion of a program designed to promote collaboration between federal state and local law enforcement. The White House oversees the Office, whose mission is to combat drug trafficking and production in areas that have been identified as hot spots throughout the country. These hot spots have been labeled as high intensity drug trafficking areas or HIDTA, and have been areas of law enforcement focus since Congress created the program back in 1988. As of November 14th of this year the White House has officially added two Maryland counties to the HIDTA list. Frederick County and Cecil County will now receive the same support as the other 28 HIDTA areas in 46 states throughout the country. The support will allow Frederick and Cecil to receive federal resources including manpower, money, and intelligence. As much as $660,000 has already been earmarked for the newly designated areas, and local law enforcement in these counties should begin to see the influx of resources over the next few months.
The Obama White House has been particularly outspoken on combating drug abuse on a local level over the last few years. In April the administration released an innovative science-based drug policy, which treats drug abuse as a public heath issue rather than simply a criminal justice issue. The science-based policy aims to stop drug abuse before it starts, and continuing to expand the HIDTA program serves to achieve this goal by combating drug production and trafficking. The HIDTA program has four main points of emphasis, which include facilitating cooperation among state, local, and federal law enforcement to pool resources and coordinate drug busts. The program also promotes intelligence sharing, developing enhanced intelligence gathering techniques, and developing more advanced strategies. Each of these four points of emphasis seems to sound similar, so to break it down in layman’s terms, the HIDTA program is basically the feds getting more involved in local drug operations. Federal government law enforcement agencies such as the DEA already involve themselves in local operations, but if this is a way for numerous local police departments to obtain more resources then they will no doubt welcome it with open arms.
It does seem odd to the casual reader than more rural areas such as Frederick and Cecil counties would be the beneficiaries of a White House drug enforcement program. After all, one would think there are much higher drug crime areas such as Baltimore and Prince George’s County. But in reality many large scale drug operations run out of more rural areas, where law enforcement resources are already stretched thin and are less sophisticated. In addition Cecil and Frederick are two areas that have major U.S. highways running right through them. Interstates 270 and 95 are major thoroughfares for all types of commerce including drug trafficking. It will be interesting to see if the HIDTA money and resources actually results in an increased number of large-scale drug busts as state, county, and local police in Cecil and Frederick will now be able to flex the muscle of the federal government. The blog will post an article as soon as we come across a drug bust in one of these areas so keep following.
Benjamin Herbst is a Maryland drug trafficking lawyer, who handles cases involving all types of controlled dangerous substances. If you case involving marijuana, cocaine, heroin, or any other CDS contact Benjamin for a free consultation.