ARKANSAS LAWMAKERS ANNOUCE COUNTIES DESIGNATED AS HIGH INTENSITY DRUG TRAFFICKING AREAS
Today, John P. Walters, Director of National Drug Control Policy (ONDCP), along with U.S. Senators Blanche Lincoln and Mark Pryor and Representatives Vic Snyder (AR-02), John Boozman (AR-03), and Mike Ross (AR-04), announced the designation of Benton, Jefferson, Pulaski, and Washington Counties as part of ONDCP's High Intensity Drug Trafficking Area (HIDTA) program. The designation will bring additional Federal resources to help coordinate Federal, State, and local law enforcement activities against drug trafficking throughout the Gulf Coast HIDTA, including the newly designated Benton, Jefferson, Pulaski, and Washington Counties.
"The designation of Benton, Jefferson, Pulaski, and Washington Counties into the Gulf Coast HIDTA will support the important work already being done at the State and local levels in Arkansas," said Director Walters. "Working in collaboration with law enforcement professionals on the frontlines of our streets, the HIDTA program enhances operational capabilities, and its expansion will help disrupt and dismantle drug trafficking organizations in Arkansas, and across the Nation."
Law enforcement officials in Benton, Jefferson, Pulaski, and Washington Counties will use the new Federal resources to coordinate investigations, and interdiction efforts against Mexican methamphetamine trafficking in Arkansas, as well as the abundance of clandestine methamphetamine laboratories.
"While our local and state law enforcement have done an exemplary job keeping our families and communities safe, the fact is that Arkansas's geographic location makes it a battleground in our nation's fight against illegal drugs," said Lincoln. "We have been working for a long time for this HIDTA designation, and I'm pleased that our state will receive the critical federal resources, technology, and manpower needed to fight the drug problem in Arkansas more effectively."
"I'm pleased our persistence to receive this designation has paid off," said Pryor. "As a result, these counties will receive much-needed fire-power to combat drug activities, including more manpower, coordination and federal dollars to keep our communities safe."
"This additional funding is an invaluable resource for Central Arkansas law enforcement agencies," said Congressman Snyder. "This support will improve the important and sometimes dangerous coordinated efforts of those who dedicate their lives to eradicating drug trafficking in our state."
"I want to thank Director John Walters for this decision," said Boozman. "Today's announcement is the result of many years of hard work by our local and state officials, and the Arkansas delegation in Washington. This designation will give our law enforcement additional tools through intelligence sharing, multi-agency cooperation, and tangible resources to fight this epidemic in our region. I am proud of their efforts to face this problem and I will continue to do all I can to support their work."
"I am proud to announce these critical federal funds to assist our local law enforcement agencies in cracking down on drug trafficking within Arkansas," Ross said. "Our local law enforcement officers are critical in combating illegal drugs and are often strapped of the resources they need to fight interstate drug trafficking. I will continue working to ensure that they have the best tools and resources available to keep our neighborhoods and our communities safe."
The HIDTA program designates regions which exhibit serious drug trafficking problems that harmfully impact other areas of the country. The HIDTA program provides additional Federal resources to those areas to help eliminate or reduce drug trafficking and its deadly consequences. Law enforcement organizations within HIDTAs assess drug trafficking problems and design specific initiatives to reduce or eliminate the production, manufacture, transportation, distribution and chronic use of illegal drugs and money laundering.
There are 28 regions throughout the country designated as HIDTAs. HIDTA counties compromise approximately 14 percent of U.S counties and are present in 45 states, Puerto Rico, the U.S. Virgin Islands, and the District of Columbia.
ONDCP announced the designation of a total of 26 new HIDTA counties, located in Arkansas, California, Georgia, Illinois, Kentucky, North Carolina, Pennsylvania, Tennessee, and Texas. The newly designated HIDTA counties have demonstrated that their specific location is a significant center of illegal drug production, manufacturing, importation, or distribution; that law enforcement agencies have committed resources to respond to the drug trafficking problem; that drug-related activities in the area are having a significant harmful impact in the area and other locations; and that a significant increase in allocation of Federal resources is necessary to respond adequately to drug-related activities in the area. As participants in the HIDTA program, the counties will be eligible to receive additional financial resources as well as equipment and technology.