High Intensity Drug Trafficking Areas (HIDTA) Program

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.

The purpose of the 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 needed to design effective enforcement strategies and operations; and
  • Supporting coordinated law enforcement strategies which maximize use of available resources to reduce the supply of illegal drugs in designated areas and in the United States as a whole.

There are currently 28 HIDTA’s, which include approximately 17.6 percent of all counties in the United States and a little over 63.5 percent of the U.S. population.  HIDTA-designated counties are located in 48 states, as well as in Puerto Rico, the U.S. Virgin Islands, and the District of Columbia. View a map of the HIDTAs here.

Each HIDTA assesses the drug trafficking threat in its defined area for the upcoming year, develops a strategy to address that threat, designs initiatives to implement the strategy, proposes funding needed to carry out the initiatives, and prepares an annual report describing its performance the previous year.  A central feature of the HIDTA program is the discretion granted to the Executive Boards to design and implement initiatives that confront drug trafficking threats in each HIDTA.  The program’s 59 Intelligence and Investigative Support Centers help HIDTA’s identify new targets and trends, develop threat assessments, de-conflict targets and events, and manage cases.

HIDTA Activities

The HIDTA program funds 737 initiatives throughout the country, including:

  • Enforcement initiatives comprising multi-agency investigative, interdiction, and  prosecution activities;
  • Intelligence and information-sharing initiatives;
  • Support for programs that provide assistance beyond the core enforcement and intelligence and information-sharing initiatives; and
  • Drug use prevention and drug treatment initiatives.

Today, prevention and treatment initiatives are an integral part of the HIDTA program.  Currently, all 28 regional HIDTA programs support prevention initiatives across the country, including the 5 SWB HIDTA regions.  The HIDTA members work with community-based coalitions and adhere to evidence-based prevention practices, such as community mobilization and organizational change.  For example;

  • SCOPE (Safe and Competent Opioid Prescribing Education) of Pain initiative, sponsored by the New England HIDTA in partnership with the Boston University School of Medicine, provides continuing education opportunities to Physicians.
  • A program funded by the Northwest HIDTA in Skagit County, Washington, is a multidisciplinary partnership of community coalitions, law enforcement, tribal, medical health providers and other agencies that provides prevention programs to the Hispanic student population in several schools.
  • In 2014, the latest year for which we have complete information, the Washington/Baltimore HIDTA funded 10 state and local agencies that provided successful drug treatment services to 462 individuals with the goal of reducing their rate of recidivism.  The declines in individuals arrested, the number of arrests, and the number of charges, were substantially lower than among the group that was unsuccessful.  These programs are seeing more clients with a primary diagnosis of heroin addiction and require more resources such as medication assisted treatment  as well as a full continuum of services from outpatient didactic treatment to long-term residential services.

The HIDTA program also supports several key domestic projects.  These national level initiatives are administered by the National HIDTA Assistance Center (NHAC) and overseen by the HIDTA Directors Committee.  These programs are the Domestic Highway Enforcement (DHE) program; the National Emerging Threat Initiative (NETI); and the National Marijuana Initiative (NMI).

Drug trafficking is a significant problem in Indian Country, and ONDCP has made it a priority to collaborate with tribal leadership to enhance law enforcement and prevention responses.  HIDTAs are uniquely positioned to work with local and tribal communities to promote and participate in community-based drug prevention programs.  Currently, 10 HIDTA programs are collaborating in enforcement operations and training with Tribal Nations: Atlanta-Carolinas, Nevada, New York/New Jersey, Northern California, Northwest, Oregon, SWB Arizona Region, SWB New Mexico Region, Texoma, and Wisconsin.  

HIDTA Resources