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HIDTA Overview

The Appalachia HIDTA region currently consists of 67 counties in Kentucky, Tennessee, and West Virginia. (See Figure 1.) The Appalachia HIDTA was established in 1998 to combat large-scale cannabis cultivation in designated counties in the tri-state area. Over the past few years, the mission of the Appalachia HIDTA has expanded to combat the threats posed by polydrug trafficking and abuse. As such, the Office of National Drug Control Policy in 2009 added Jefferson County (Louisville, Kentucky) and Roane County (bordering Knoxville, Tennessee) to the Appalachia HIDTA. Many communities in the Appalachia HIDTA region have high rates of poverty that result in high levels of unemployment, adult illiteracy, fragmented families, teenage pregnancy, public corruption, and an established moonshining tradition.c These conditions have led some individuals in the region to an acceptance of illegal drug activities, particularly marijuana and methamphetamine production, which occur at high levels in rural areas. 

Figure 1. Appalachia High Intensity Drug Trafficking Area
Map showing the Appalachia High Intensity Drug Trafficking Area.


c. The percentages of people living below the poverty level in Kentucky (17.3), Tennessee (15.5), and West Virginia (17.4) were greater than the national average (13.2) in 2008 (the latest date for which such data are available).

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