Feds name Harford a High Intensity Drug Trafficking Area

Harford County was added Monday to the national list of High Intensity Drug Trafficking Areas in recognition of the county's drug crime problem.

Along with seven other counties across the country, Harford was added to the ranks of High Intensity Drug Trafficking Areas, or HIDTAs, by the Office of National Drug Control Policy, or ONDCP. Harford becomes part of what is known as the Washington/Baltimore HIDTA.

The designation means Harford County is eligible for certain federal resources in the effort to reduce drug trafficking, according to a news release from the ONDCP.

A local law enforcement source said the designation is welcome in terms of the resources that will be available, but it also highlights the county's ongoing problems with drug-related crimes.

Part of that problem has long been tied to the county's location along the I-95 corridor between New York and Baltimore, a major drug transshipment route.

There are now 28 HIDTAs across the nation encompassing about 16 percent of all U.S. counties and 60 percent of the nation's population, according to the ONDCP release.

The designation is also meant to allow further cooperation among federal, state, local and tribal law enforcement agencies with the common goal of reducing drug trafficking and its negative consequences, according to the release.

In addition to Harford County, seven other counties were named HIDTAs this week: Orange County, N.Y.; Mendocino County, Calif.; Porter County, Ind.; Lexington and Richland counties, S.C.; and Putnam and Mercer counties in W. Va.

The Washington/Baltimore HIDTA originally designated in 1994, according to ONDCP's website. Other local jurisdictions included in the designated area are Baltimore City and Anne Arundel, Baltimore, Howard, Charles, Montgomery and Prince George's counties in Maryland, the District Columbia and several northern Virginia counties and theCity ofAlexandria.

According to the ONDCP website, the mission of the Washington/Baltimore HIDTA is "to improve interagency collaboration, promote the sharing of accurate and timely information and intelligence and provide specialized training and other resources to W/B HIDTA participating law enforcement and treatment/ criminal justice agencies that will enhance their ability to provide superior services and meet their operational objectives."

For updates on this story, check back with http://www.exploreharford.com or see Wednesday's print edition of The Aegis.

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