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HIDTA Overview

The Atlanta HIDTA, comprising 12 counties in Georgia and 8 counties in North Carolina, is a distribution center for powder cocaine, ice methamphetamine, commercial-grade marijuana, and, increasingly, Mexican black tar and brown powder heroin. (See Figure 1.) Mexican DTOs exploit the region's position as an interstate transportation hub for use as a leading drug distribution and bulk cash consolidation center for drug markets throughout the eastern United States, including Birmingham, Huntsville, Mobile, and Montgomery, Alabama; Miramar, Palm Coast, Panama City, Perry, and Tampa, Florida; Louisville, Kentucky; Jackson, Mississippi; New York; Charlotte and Raleigh, North Carolina; Cincinnati, Ohio; Chester and Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania; Greenville, South Carolina; Chattanooga, Memphis, and Nashville, Tennessee; and Newport News and Richmond, Virginia. The convergence of Interstates 20, 75, and 85 in Atlanta provides Mexican traffickers with easy access from the Southwest Border (Arizona, California, and Texas) to eastern U.S. drug markets. (See Figure 2.) Furthermore, I-40 provides Mexican traffickers with a direct route from drug transit areas in Barstow, California, through Flagstaff, Arizona; Albuquerque, New Mexico; and Memphis, Tennessee, into Greensboro, Durham, and Raleigh, North Carolina. (See Figure 3.)

The region has a large customer base and a sizable Hispanic population that is exploited by Mexican traffickers. More than 6.7 million individuals resided in the Atlanta HIDTA region in 2009. The majority of residents in the region are Caucasian (66%), followed by African American (29%), Hispanic (10%), and Asian (4%). The Hispanic population is the fastest growing ethnic group in the region. Hispanic workers come to the region seeking jobs in the construction, manufacturing, and meat-processing industries. Mexican drug traffickers are exploiting the region's sizable Hispanic community by blending into those communities, enabling them to carry out their drug trafficking operations and to recruit couriers and new members.

Figure 1. Atlanta High Intensity Drug Trafficking Area
Atlanta High Intensity Drug Trafficking Area

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