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Press Release

Escambia and Santa Rosa Counties Join Federal Program to Reduce Drug Trafficking

For Immediate Release
U.S. Attorney's Office, Northern District of Florida

PENSACOLA, FLORIDA The Office of National Drug Control Policy (ONDCP) has announced that Escambia and Santa Rosa Counties in Northwest Florida have been added as members of the Gulf Coast High Intensity Drug Trafficking Area (HIDTA) program.  The Gulf Coast HIDTA, which includes counties and parishes in Alabama, Arkansas, Louisiana, Tennessee, and Mississippi, is one of 28 nationwide drug enforcement initiatives aimed at reducing violent crime and drug trafficking.  Both counties border existing Gulf Coast HIDTA designated counties in Alabama and have a direct nexus to multiple Gulf Coast HIDTA initiatives.

In 2014, law enforcement agencies in Northwest Florida began the application process to become a member of the Gulf Coast HIDTA due to drug trafficking routes running through Escambia and Santa Rosa Counties via Interstate 10 and U.S. Highway 98.  A threat assessment conducted as part of this request confirmed that not only do many ongoing investigations in Gulf Coast HIDTA counties have a connection to the Pensacola area, but numerous Escambia and Santa Rosa County investigations also have ties to other agencies that are part of the Gulf Coast HIDTA.  Additionally, Escambia County has experienced drug-related shootings, and arrests in those violent incidents frequently are linked to the local illicit drug market.

The following coalition of federal, state, and local Northwest Florida law enforcement agencies petitioned the Office of National Drug Control Policy to designate Escambia and Santa Rosa County as part of the Gulf Coast HIDTA:

  • United States Attorney’s Office, Northern District of Florida

  • Drug Enforcement Administration

  • Escambia County Sheriff’s Office

  • Santa Rosa County Sheriff’s Office

  • Pensacola Police Department

  • Gulf Breeze Police Department

  • Federal Bureau of Investigation

  • Florida Department of Law Enforcement

  • State Attorney’s Office, First Judicial Circuit

  • Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives

  • Florida Office of the Attorney General

  • Florida Highway Patrol

  • Homeland Security Investigations

  • Internal Revenue Service

“Due to collaboration and hard work of our law enforcement partners, Northwest Florida will receive additional resources and support in addressing drug-related crimes,” said Acting United States Attorney Christopher P. Canova.  “The enhanced communication between the local agencies in our district with the other HIDTA initiatives across the nation will also better enable law enforcement personnel to disrupt and dismantle drug trafficking organizations that serve as the source and supply of dangerous drugs into the community.”

“The DEA Miami Field Division is happy to have Escambia and Santa Rosa Counties join the HIDTA program,” said DEA Special Agent in Charge Adolphus P. Wright.  “Their inclusion will greatly contribute to the HIDTA mission of combatting drug trafficking in the Gulf Coast area.”

“Due to recent changes at the U.S. Attorney's Office and local DEA office, we will be joining the Gulf Coast HIDTA.  We are encouraged that positive changes are on the horizon,” said Sheriff David Morgan of the Escambia County Sheriff’s Office.

“I'm glad we are in this partnership, and I know the community will benefit from it,” said Pensacola Police Chief David Alexander III.

“The Santa Rosa County Sheriff’s Office is proud to now be a member of the HIDTA task force, and we look forward to working with the partner agencies in an effort to disrupt criminal activity in our area,” said Chief Deputy Bob Johnson of the Santa Rosa County Sheriff’s Office.

The High Intensity Drug Trafficking Areas (HIDTA) program, created by Congress with the Anti-Drug Abuse Act of 1988, provides assistance to federal, state, local, and tribal law enforcement agencies operating in areas determined to be critical drug-trafficking regions of the United States.  The purpose of the program is to reduce drug trafficking and production in the United States.  For more information about the HIDTA program, visit the Office of National Drug Control Policy website.  The ONDCP release can be found at:

The United States Attorney's Office for the Northern District of Florida is one of 94 offices that serve as the nation’s principal litigators under the direction of the Attorney General.  The office strives to protect and serve the citizens of the Northern District of Florida through the ethical, vigorous, and impartial enforcement of the laws of the United States, to defend the national security, to improve the safety and quality of life in our communities through the protection of civil rights, and to protect the public funds and financial assets of the United States.  To access available public court documents online, please visit the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Florida website.  For more information about the United States Attorney’s Office, Northern District of Florida, visit

For more information, contact:
Amy Alexander, Public Information Officer
(850) 216-3854,

Updated January 15, 2016

Drug Trafficking