Sullivan County Designated as Newest Member of Appalachia High Intensity Drug Trafficking Area
BLOUNTVILLE, Tenn. – Sullivan County was recognized today as the newest county in east Tennessee to become a member of the Appalachia High Intensity Drug Trafficking Area (HIDTA). U.S. Attorney Nancy Stallard Harr, along with Second Judicial District Attorney Barry Staubus and Appalachia HIDTA Tennessee State Coordinator Joel Reece, made this announcement at a press conference in Blountville.
The HIDTA Program began in 1988 when Congress authorized the Director of the Office of National Drug Control Policy (ONDCP) to designate areas within the United States which exhibited serious drug trafficking problems and harmfully impacted other areas of the country as HIDTAs. The HIDTA Program provides additional federal resources to those areas to help eliminate or reduce drug trafficking and its harmful consequences. Appalachia HIDTA, which consists of counties in Kentucky, Tennessee, Virginia and West Virginia, was created in 1998.
In the Eastern District of Tennessee, HIDTA funds DEA and FBI led drug task forces in Johnson City, Knoxville, and Chattanooga, as well other initiatives to reduce drug crime in the HIDTA. Most recently, to battle the overdose epidemic, the Knoxville Police Department teamed up with the Knox County District Attorney’s Office, Knox County Medical Examiner's Office, Sheriff's Office and Tennessee Bureau of Investigation to form the Overdose Death Investigation Task Force, which is funded by Appalachia HIDTA.
The Appalachia HIDTA mission is to use a multi-disciplinary approach to deal with the ongoing threats to public health and safety, particularly as it regards prescription drug diversion, the emerging threat of heroin, as well as the continued threats of marijuana, cocaine, methamphetamine and synthetic drugs. The Appalachia region is arguably the epicenter of this crisis, and requires unprecedented multi-disciplined cooperation to effectively address the many faceted health and public safety problems that result from this daunting threat. The Appalachia HIDTA will serve as the conduit for this cooperation.
In addition to Sullivan County, other previously designated Appalachia HIDTA counties in east Tennessee include Bledsoe, Blount, Bradley, Campbell, Claiborne, Cocke, Franklin, Grainger, Greene, Grundy, Hamblen, Hamilton, Hawkins, Jefferson, Knox, Marion, Rhea, Roane, Scott, Sequatchie, Sevier, Unicoi and Washington. An additional eight Tennessee counties in the middle district, including Cumberland, Fentress, Jackson, Macon, Overton, Pickett, Putnam, and White, are also designated as members.
U.S. Attorney Nancy Stallard Harr said, “Sullivan County’s designation as an Appalachia HIDTA county will allow resources for the critical fight against opioids, including heroin and fentanyl, as well as other illegal substances that drug dealers are bringing into our communities every day. Appalachia HIDTA and the Rocky Top Task Force are national award winning programs that are making an impact against the spread of illegal drugs in eastern Tennessee. The District Attorney’s Office and Sullivan County law enforcement agencies have shown the initiative and ability to use these HIDTA resources to stop the ravaging effects of opioid addiction in our Appalachian area. We salute their past efforts and look forward to their success in the future.”
“Having Sullivan County designated as a member of HIDTA has been an important goal of this office since my becoming the District Attorney General in 2011. HIDTA can assist my office, and local law enforcement agencies, in investigating and prosecuting serious drug trafficking by providing much needed federal resources to combat our methamphetamine and opioid epidemic as well as the sale and distribution of cocaine and marijuana,” said Barry P. Staubus, District Attorney General, Second Judicial District
“We are very excited to receive this designation. This will go a long way, in our fight against illegal drugs in Sullivan County!” said Wayne Anderson, Sullivan County Sheriff.
Please visit http://ahidta.org for more information about the Appalachian HIDTA.