High Intensity Drug Trafficking Area Designation

"The Director of ONDCP has the authority to designate areas within the United States that are centers of illegal drug production, manufacturing, importation, or distribution as HIDTAs. The director must first consult with the Attorney General, Secretary of the Treasury, Secretary of Homeland Security, heads of the relevant National Drug Control Program Agencies, and the governor of the applicable state.8 Four main criteria are considered when designating an area as a HIDTA:

"the extent to which [1] the area is a significant center of illegal drug production, manufacturing, importation, or distribution; [2] State, local, and tribal law enforcement agencies have committed resources to respond to the drug trafficking problem in the area, thereby indicating a determination to respond aggressively to the problem; [3] drug-related activities in the area are having a significant harmful impact in the area, and in other areas of the country; and [4] a significant increase in allocation of Federal resources is necessary to respond adequately to drug related activities in the area.9

"The HIDTA program is designed with the county as its geographic unit of inclusion. As such, if an entire state were to be included in a HIDTA, this would be because each county within the state had been separately designated as a critical drug trafficking area. To begin the designation process, a coalition of law enforcement agencies may petition the Director of ONDCP for a county to be included in a HIDTA.10 There are 29 designated HIDTAs in the United States and its territories, as outlined in Table 1. The most recent HIDTA to be established was the Alaska HIDTA, which was announced on May 1, 2018.11"


Kristin Finklea. High Intensity Drug Trafficking Areas (HIDTA) Program. Congressional Research Service, CRS R45188. Updated May 3, 2018.