White House Drug Czar Adds More Counties to High Intensity Drug Trafficking List
First Tennessee County to be Added to Watch List
WASHINGTON, D.C. – White House drug policy director Michael Botticelli has added Blount County, Tennessee to its list of areas designated as High Intensity Drug Trafficking Areas, or HIDTA.
HIDTA is a drug-prohibition enforcement program run by the United States Office of National Drug Control Policy. It was established in 1990 after the Anti-Drug Abuse Act of 1988 was passed.
The new designation will allow local law enforcement agencies in Blount County to benefit from federal funds and programs for HIDTA’s.
“With the designation of new counties as High Intensity Drug Trafficking Areas, we are enhancing the ability of Federal, state, and local authorities to coordinate drug enforcement operations and improve public health and safety,” Director Botticelli told WATE in a press conference. “The High Intensity Drug Trafficking Areas program is an important part of this Administration’s work to expand community-based efforts to prevent drug use, pursue ‘smart on crime’ approaches to drug enforcement, work to reduce overdose deaths, increase access to treatment, and support millions of Americans in recovery.”
This announcement comes just one month after Director Botticelli formed the White House’s first ever committee on opiate abuse, and days after President Obama called on all political leaders to make addiction its top priority in the first minute of his State of the Union address. Botticelli says he will host community forums across the country focused on best practices and evidence-based initiatives to prevent and treat prescription drug abuse and heroin use.
“The President has made clear that the heroin and prescription opioid epidemic is a priority for this Administration,” says Director Botticelli. “We have tools that we know are effective in reducing drug use and overdose, like evidence-based prevention programs, prescription drug monitoring, medication-assisted treatment and the overdose reversal drug naloxone. The forums will highlight local examples of how states and communities are using these and other tools, so their efforts can serve as models for others. We have lost too many children, parents, friends and neighbors to delay in making these tools available wherever they are needed.”
Prescription opioid-related deaths increased by 16%, or 2658 deaths, between 2013-2014. There were 18,893 overdose deaths involving prescription opioids. The White House says these deaths are increasing in part because deaths involving synthetic opioids, such as fentanyl and tramadol, increased by 79% from 2013-2014. About 5,544 people died from overdosed involving synthetic opioids in 2014.
Heroin-related deaths increased 28% from 2013-2014, totaling 10,574 deaths in 2014.
Currently the HIDTA program funds 737 initiatives across the United States in 22 regions, including:
- Blount County, Tennessee
- Carroll County, Virginia
- Grayson County, Virginia
- Escambia County, Florida
- Santa Rosa County, Florida
- Muskegon County, Michigan
Bristol County, Massachusetts
New York/New Jersey
- Broome County, New York
- Ulster County, New York
- Linn County, Oregon
- McIntosh County, Oklahoma
- Pittsburg County, Oklahoma
- Carroll County, Maryland
- Jefferson County, West Virginia