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Strategic Drug Threat Developments

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HIDTA Overview

The Atlanta HIDTA region comprises Barrow, Bartow, Cherokee, Clayton, Cobb, DeKalb, Douglas, Fayette, Forsyth, Fulton, Gwinnett and Henry Counties, which compose a large portion of the Atlanta, Georgia, metropolitan area, and Durham, Johnston, Wake, Wayne, and Wilson Counties, which encompass most of the Raleigh metropolitan area in North Carolina. (See Figure 1.) Moreover, many HIDTA initiatives and investigations extend into counties within the Atlanta Metropolitan Statistical Area (MSA) that are adjacent to the HIDTA region.1 (See Figure 2.)

Figure 2. Atlanta Metropolitan Area Transportation Infrastructure

Map showing the Atlanta metropolitan area transportation infrastructure.

The Atlanta area is the leading drug distribution and bulk cash consolidation center for Mexican DTOs that supply illicit drugs, particularly powder cocaine, to drug markets in the eastern United States and transport illicit drug proceeds from those markets to the Southwest Border area and Mexico.2 The drug flow from the Atlanta HIDTA region has positioned it as a national-level drug distribution center for many eastern U.S. drug markets. Mexican DTOs distribute illicit drugs from the Atlanta HIDTA region to cities throughout the eastern United States, including Baltimore, Maryland; Cincinnati and Dayton, Ohio; Columbia, South Carolina; Gainesville, Jacksonville, Miami, and Tampa, Florida; Memphis and Nashville, Tennessee; Birmingham and Montgomery, Alabama; Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania; and Roanoke, Virginia. Moreover, these DTOs distribute ice methamphetamine from Atlanta to southeastern drug markets. The illicit drugs distributed from the Atlanta HIDTA region are generally smuggled across the U.S.-Mexico border by Mexican traffickers and then through California and Texas en route to the HIDTA region. Moreover, Mexican DTOs use the Atlanta area as a bulk cash consolidation center, storing millions of dollars in suburban Atlanta stash houses before transporting the cash to the Southwest Border area and Mexico.

The Atlanta HIDTA region has a highly accessible transportation system, including major roadways that link it to the Southwest Border and major eastern U.S. drug markets. (See Figure 2 and Figure 3.) Mexican DTOs exploit the Atlanta HIDTA region's geographic location between these areas to transport illicit drugs to Atlanta and then on to eastern drug markets; these DTOs also transport illicit drugs directly to distribution points in North Carolina for further distribution to eastern drug markets. Mexican DTOs frequently transport illicit drugs into North Carolina counties of the Atlanta HIDTA region from Atlanta using Interstate 85 or from California using I-40.

Figure 3. North Carolina Counties in the Atlanta HIDTA Region Transportation Infrastructure

Map showing the North Carolina counties in the Atlanta HIDTA region transportation infrastructure.


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.
2. According to the Rand McNally Road Atlas and Travel Guide 2008, the eastern United States consists of Alabama, Connecticut, Delaware, Florida, Georgia, Indiana, Kentucky, Maine, Maryland, Massachusetts, Michigan, New Hampshire, New Jersey, New York, North Carolina, Ohio, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, South Carolina, Tennessee, Vermont, Virginia, and West Virginia.

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