Today, Congressman Bill Owens announced that Jefferson County has received a designation as a High Intensity Drug Trafficking Area (HIDTA). This federal designation will further the development of the North Country's joint drug control efforts by Federal, State, local and tribal law enforcement officers in the region and allow Jefferson County to benefit from ongoing HIDTA initiatives. Congressman Owens pressed the White House's Office of National Drug Control Policy (ONDCP) in March to include Jefferson County in this designation.
"Jefferson County presents a significant threat for cross-border importation of illegal drugs and that the County satisfies the requirements for the HIDTA expansion," Owens wrote in a letter to ONDCP Director Gil Kerlikowske. "Smugglers take advantage of the terrain, interconnecting roadways and inadequate law enforcement resources to facilitate the transportation of illegal goods through Jefferson County. The designation of the County as part of the New York/New Jersey HIDTA can only further efforts to combat drug trafficking in our nation and enhance our national security."
The move was praised by local Jefferson County leaders, including District Attorney Cindy Intschert. "Despite the best efforts of various law enforcement agencies, drug trafficking along the United States-Canadian Border, including Jefferson County, has been significant in recent years. The inclusion of Jefferson County in the New York-New Jersey High Intensity Drug Trafficking Area (HIDTA) recognizes the seriousness of that activity, and will aid local, state and federal authorities in working together to stem the flow. The designation will assist us in obtaining federal resources that will provide equipment, manpower and an enhanced information sharing network to combat cross-border drug trafficking and its effects on not only the citizens of Jefferson County but surrounding areas, as well," said Intschert.
Consistent with the National Drug Control Strategy, the HIDTA program aims 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 to facilitate the design of effective enforcement strategies and operations; and
* Supporting coordinated law enforcement strategies that make the most of available resources to reduce the supply of illegal drugs in designated areas of the United States and in the Nation as a whole.
The High Intensity Drug Trafficking Areas 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.
"In a difficult budget environment, now more than ever it is important for Federal, State and local partners to collaborate in order to maximize resources," said Kerlikowske. "Designating these counties as HIDTAs will promote the kind of intergovernmental and interagency cooperation required to stem drug trafficking across this Nation."