U.S. Attorney Announces Hardin County, Kentucky Designated A High Intenstity Drug Trafficking Area (HIDTA)
– Federal designation provides assistance to the Greater Hardin County Narcotics Task Force
LOUISVILLE, Ky. – David J. Hale, United States Attorney for the Western District of Kentucky, today announced the designation of Hardin County, Kentucky, as a High Intensity Drug Trafficking Area (HIDTA), by R. Gil Kerlikowske, Director of the Office of National Drug Control Policy. The designation will provide additional funds, support and coordination to the Greater Hardin County Narcotics Task Force.
“We are pleased that Director Kerlikowske has approved Hardin County. With the additional resources and coordination that come with being a HIDTA county, the collaborative effort can more effectively fight the growing supply of methamphetamine, illegal prescription drugs and marijuana in Hardin County communities,” stated U.S. Attorney Hale. “Major interstate corridors cross within this large and fast-growing county, forming one of the nation’s most heavily travelled drug crossroads.”
U.S. Attorney Hale is a member of the Appalachia HIDTA executive board and began the process of seeking HIDTA designation of Hardin County based upon input from local law enforcement leaders, including Elizabethtown Police Department Chief Tracy Schiller.
“The additional funding will assist in our ability to effectively share information and coordinate with our federal, state and local anti-drug law enforcement partners,” stated Tracy Schiller, Elizabethtown Police Department Chief, “We welcome the resources, and the partnership with Appalachia HIDTA.”
Mr. Hale recognized the contributions of those who assisted in the designation process. “Obtaining this important designation resulted from a team approach that included broad support from the Appalachia HIDTA board and staff, law enforcement and community leaders in Hardin County, and elected representatives in Washington, DC. We are grateful for their effective support,” Mr. Hale concluded.
The HIDTA designation is in response to escalating methamphetamine production, marijuana cultivation and trafficking in illegal prescription pain pills in Hardin County. Kentucky’s sixth largest population center began to experience a dramatic rise in methamphetamine production beginning in 2009 and by 2011, a total of 68 methamphetamine labs were discovered and dismantled. Hardin ranks 5th out of 120 Kentucky counties with respect to methamphetamine production, and 18th for outdoor marijuana cultivation. The problem of prescription drug abuse has reached epidemic levels in Kentucky and in Hardin County the number of people enrolled in diversion programs has nearly doubled from 2010 to 2011.
The High Intensity Drug Trafficking Areas (HIDTA) program was created by Congress in 1988. It provides assistance to federal, state and local law enforcement agencies operating in areas determined to be critical drug-trafficking regions of the United States. Counties designated for inclusion in HIDTA benefit from intense cooperation and intelligence sharing among federal, state and local law enforcement, and assistance with the design and implementation of effective enforcement strategies. There are currently 28 HIDTAs, which are directed and guided by local boards composed of federal and local law enforcement leaders. Appalachia HIDTA began in 1998, and includes counties in Kentucky, Tennessee, West Virginia and Virginia. In Kentucky, these include Bell, Breathitt, Clay, Floyd, Harlan, Jackson, Knott, Knox, Laurel, Lee, Leslie, McCreary, Magoffin, Owsley, Perry, Pike, Pulaski, Rockcastle, Wayne and Whitley counties in the Eastern District of Kentucky; and Adair, Clinton, Cumberland, Jefferson, Marion, Monroe, Taylor, Warren counties in the Western District of Kentucky.