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Indianapolis now designated a High Intensity Drug Trafficking Area

Designation means more money to fight drugs, crime
Posted at 4:08 PM, Oct 18, 2016

INDIANAPOLIS -- Marion County has joined Lake and LaPorte counties as part of a High Intensity Drug Trafficking Area – giving local law enforcement access to new funds and tools in their fight against drugs.

The High Intensity Drug Trafficking Area (HIDTA) program was created in 1988 to allow federal, state and local law enforcement officials to work together in areas determined to be "critical drug trafficking regions of the United States."

What does it mean to be a HIDTA? To qualify, an area must meet the following criteria:

  • It must be a significant center of illegal drug production, manufacturing, importation or distribution
  • State, local, and tribal law enforcement agencies must have committed resources to respond to the drug trafficking problem
  • Drug-related activities in the area must be having a significant harmful impact
  • A significant increase in allocation of federal resources must be needed to respond adequately to drug-related activities.

Law enforcement officials say because of the convergence of four interstates in the city – I-65, I-69, I-70 and I-74 – Indianapolis has become a major thoroughfare for drugs moving into and out of Indiana

"We are experiencing a crisis in Marion County of drug dealing and drug distribution. Perhaps a crisis of unprecedented proportions," said Marion County Prosecutor Terry Curry. "Heroin, methamphetamine, cocaine, marijuana, synthetic drugs – they're all here, and in unacceptable levels."

The Lake County HIDTA, which Marion County is joining, receives around $3.3 million annually as part of the program.

Sen. Joe Donnelly (D-IN) who championed the program in Washington says that's money Marion County will now have access to as it steps up efforts to stop drugs like heroin and fentanyl from claiming the lives of more Hoosiers.

"It's hit all ages, but so many of them are young people who have a whole life ahead of them," Donnelly said. "The talent, the ability, the lives that are lost, not only from the people who are taking these drugs but also the people who are wasting their lives selling them, has to stop."

Part of the program will include a "multijurisdictional approach" to the prosecution of known drug traffickers and repeat drug offenders. It will reportedly also allow better intelligence sharing between law enforcement agencies.

Curry was quick to point out that HIDTA is not a "magic bullet," and IMPD Chief Troy Riggs said it is only one part of a continuing conversation about drugs.

"We also have to have a conversation in our community about the voracious appetites for drugs that American citizens have," Riggs said.

The prosecutor's office plans to use the new HIDTA funds in part to fund programs like the IMPD Long-Term Narcotic Investigations Squad, the FBI Safe Streets Task Force, the Achilles Unit (made up of anti-drug IMPD, ATF and MCSO officers) and the Metro Drug Task Force.

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