|National Drug Intelligence
Atlanta High Intensity Drug Trafficking Area Drug Market Analysis
Strategic Drug Threat Developments
The Atlanta HIDTA, located in northwestern Georgia, expanded its area of responsibility in November 2006 to include Cobb and Gwinnett Counties along with DeKalb and Fulton Counties, the original HIDTA counties. These four counties have a combined population of nearly 2.7 million; the city of Atlanta accounts for over 400,000. With the addition of Cobb and Gwinnett Counties, the Atlanta HIDTA region now encompasses the four most populous counties in the Atlanta Metropolitan Statistical Area (MSA) and comprises over 60 percent of the population in the Atlanta MSA.1 Although the HIDTA region encompasses only four counties, this report discusses the additional Atlanta MSA counties surrounding the HIDTA region. Drug trafficking and abuse in these counties are inextricably linked to the HIDTA region.
The Atlanta HIDTA region is a major drug distribution center for Mexican DTOs. These DTOs distribute powder cocaine and marijuana from Atlanta to cities throughout the eastern United States, including New York, New York; Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania; and Trenton, New Jersey; they also distribute ice methamphetamine to southeastern markets. Additionally, Mexican DTOs are increasingly transporting powder cocaine, ice methamphetamine, and marijuana from and through Atlanta to Charlotte, Greensboro, and Raleigh, North Carolina for further distribution to eastern drug markets. Law enforcement officials report that these cities are emerging as secondary distribution centers for the Atlanta area. Mexican DTOs also use Atlanta as a distribution center for cities in the Midwest, including Chicago, Illinois; Cincinnati, Ohio; and St. Louis and Jefferson City, Missouri. They use the Atlanta area as a distribution center because of its central location in the Southeast as well as its well-established transportation infrastructure. Interstates 20, 75, and 85; public and private airports; and rail and bus services provide traffickers with ready access from the Southwest Border area to Atlanta and to cities throughout the eastern United States and the Midwest. In addition, the large population of the Atlanta MSA provides an extensive customer base and a degree of anonymity for Mexican drug traffickers because of the increasing Hispanic (primarily Mexican) population. Law enforcement reporting reveals that as the Mexican immigrant community has grown in the Atlanta area, so too has the presence of Mexican drug traffickers.
1. The Atlanta Metropolitan Statistical Area (MSA) includes the following 28 counties: Barrow, Bartow, Butts, Carroll, Cherokee, Clayton, Cobb, Coweta, Dawson, DeKalb, Douglas, Fayette, Forsyth, Fulton, Gwinnett, Haralson, Heard, Henry, Jasper, Lamar, Meriwether, Newton, Paulding, Pickens, Pike, Rockdale, Spalding, and Walton.