Office of National Drug Control Policy

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 HIDTAs, which include approximately 18.3 percent of all counties in the United States and a little over 65.5 percent of the U.S. population.  HIDTA-designated counties are located in 49 states as well as Puerto Rico, the U.S. Virgin Islands, the District of Columbia, and the Warm Springs Indian Reservation in Oregon.  View a map of the HIDTAs here.

In August 2015, the Office of National Drug Control Policy announced an unprecedented partnership among regional HIDTA programs to address the heroin threat facing those communities through public health-public safety partnerships. The HIDTA Heroin Response Strategy now covers 20 States in eight HIDTAs: Appalachia, Atlanta/Carolinas, Michigan, Ohio, New England, New York/New Jersey, Philadelphia/Camden, and Washington/Baltimore. This HIDTA Heroin Response Strategy is fostering a collaborative network of public health-public safety partnerships to address the heroin and opioid epidemic from multiple perspectives.

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 currently funds 752 initiatives throughout the nation, 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;

  • The Safe and Sound Initiative of the Wisconsin HIDTA, which grew out of the weed and seed program of the 1980s, is an integral part of Milwaukee strategy to reduce drug related violent crime through targeted law enforcement, community building and proactive engagement of youth and activities, which increase prosocial skills and behaviors, and teach drug, gang, gun and crime resistance.  Safe and sound uses a three-pronged strategy to unite residents, youth, law enforcement and community resources to build safe and empowered neighborhoods.
  • The Rio Arriba County Empowerment (RACE) Project of the Southwest Border HIDTA – New Mexico region, is a community-based prevention initiative that focuses on drug prevention activities in the Espanola Valley which has been plagued with multigenerational heroine abuse.  The RACE Project employs a balanced approach between both supply reduction and demand reduction supporting ONDCP's three-pronged approach of enforcement, prevention and treatment to create the necessary balance to effectively impact drug abuse the most serious threat to this region's public health and safety.  Programs and services built prevention capacity and prepare communities to provide effective prevention services.
  • The Houston HIDTA Drug Prevention and Awareness Initiative presents a concerted and collaborative drug prevention and awareness effort.  This initiative involves a partnership with the Houston Mayor's office Crackdown Coalition.  This coalition offers a good mix of law enforcement and treatment/prevention health professionals, working in partnership to increase awareness of drug trafficking, substance abuse, and community drug use trends, while also working toward breaking the cycle of addiction and incarceration.  The Houston HIDTA's partnership with the Houston Mayor's office Crackdown Coalition has opened up opportunities for the HIDTA to participate in additional community outreach events.  One such partnership, was with the Bay Area Youth Alliance Coalition which serves the greater Galveston area.  The Houston HIDTA has also partnered with the Success through Addiction Recovery (STAR) Court, which bridges the gap between criminal justice and therapeutic approaches to defendants with drug dependencies.

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