Mission Statement: The overall mission of the Appalachia HIDTA is to
measurably reduce the impact of regional marijuana production, trafficking,
and distribution in the Appalachia region and other parts of the United States
through multi-agency collocated and co-mingled initiatives that attack, disrupt,
and dismantle the drug trafficking and money laundering organizations operating
within the Appalachia HIDTA area.
Year of Designation: 1998|
Geographic Area of Responsibility:|
Adair, Bell, Breathitt, Clay, Clinton, Cumberland, Floyd, Harlan, Jackson,
Knott, Knox, Laurel, Lee, Leslie, McCreary, Magoffin, Marion, Monroe,
Owsley, Perry, Pike, Pulaski, Rockcastle, Taylor, Wayne, and Whitley
Bledsoe, Campbell, Claiborne, Clay, Cocke, Cumberland, Fentress,
Franklin, Grainger, Greene, Grundy, Hamblin, Hancock, Hawkins, Jackson,
Jefferson, Macon, Marion, Overton, Pickett, Putnam, Rhea, Scott, Sequatchie,
Sevier, Unicoi, Van Buren, and White counties
Boone, Braxton, Cabell, Gilmer, Lewis, Lincoln, Logan, Mason, McDowell,
Mingo, and Wayne counties
The Appalachia HIDTA was designated in 1998. It is comprised of sixty-five
counties located within the states of Kentucky, Tennessee, and West Virginia.
The designated region is located within easy reach of several large major
population areas of the United States. At the same time, the area consists
of predominately rural and rugged terrain with soil, temperature, and
other climate conditions ideally suited for marijuana production.
Demographic conditions of the Appalachia HIDTA, including relatively
high unemployment and low median family income, create an environment
where illegal activities and corruption can flourish.
According to eradication statistics, marijuana is the number one cash crop in
the three states which comprise the Appalachia HIDTA. Kentucky's eradicated
marijuana crop for 1999 yielded plants valued at $787,088,000. That amount
exceeded the number one legitimate cash crop, tobacco, by nearly $9,000,000.
Tennessee's eradicated marijuana crop for 1999 yielded plants valued at
$628,226,000 which surpassed all other legitimate cash crops individually
with the closest being tobacco at $217,429,000. West Virginia's eradicated
marijuana crop for 1999 yielded plants valued at $70,728,000. The total
value of all other legitimate cash crops grown in West Virginia combined
($57,290,450) does not reach the cash value for eradicated marijuana. A
total of 1.6 million cultivated marijuana plants were eradicated. Within
the past year, a number of drug trafficking organizations have been identified
as operating within the Appalachia HIDTA. The makeup of drug trafficking
organizations within the Appalachia HIDTA generally consist of a loose
confederation of family units and other associates cooperating in marijuana
cultivation and information sharing regarding new growing techniques and law
An Executive Committee comprised of eight federal and eight local/state law
enforcement leaders from the three Appalachia HIDTA states allow a regional
focus and synchronization of efforts to reduce the cultivation and distribution
of marijuana within Kentucky, Tennessee, and West Virginia. The manpower
strength of the Appalachia HIDTA includes 105 full-time, and 595 part-time
personnel utilized during intense concentrated enforcement periods. All
signatories of the Appalachia HIDTA Memorandum of Understanding agree to
mutual cooperation, sharing resources and intelligence information, utilization
of specialized equipment, and regionalized training of personnel.
Appalachia HIDTA initiatives that implement the strategy include the three
enforcement initiatives entitled Eradication, Investigation, and Interdiction.
Eradication utilizes a regionally focused effort with heavy participation by
the National Guard and state enforcement agencies, as well as the DEA.
Investigation/Money Laundering which, because of the rural nature of the
region, relies heavily on existing intelligence sources from State Police
outposts, local agencies, and existing drug task forces. Interdiction focuses on
the transportation of marijuana into and out of the Appalachia HIDTA region by
private and commercial means.
In addition to the enforcement initiatives, the Appalachia HIDTA also includes
Prosecution, Intelligence, Demand Reduction, Administration, and Evaluation
Initiatives. Prosecution includes fulltime state and local prosecutors to
encompass the full range of culpability of violators. Intelligence includes
the Investigative Support Center (ICS) and the Marijuana Signature Lab.
Demand Reduction utilizes their resources to attempt to change the attitudes
towards acceptance of marijuana cultivation and use. Administration and
Evaluation support all other initiatives.
Investigative Support Center:
The Appalachia HIDTA Investigative Support Center (ISC) is the centerpiece of the
HIDTA as it provides the collocation and commingling of vital federal and state
law enforcement personnel, and databases to assist all regional law enforcement
agencies in counterdrug investigations, eradication, and interdiction. The
ISC provides event and subject deconfliction services for officer safety and
enhanced intelligence production; strategic intelligence for refined
targeting and officer resource allocation; and in-service analytical
intelligence training. The ISC provides HIDTA agencies and task forces
with operational analytical support for ongoing "initiative driven" case
activity through access to multiple criminal and commercial databases. The
ISC provides narcotics intelligence analysis, prepares threat assessments,
strategic reports, organizational studies, participates in informant/defendant
debriefings, cultivates new Sources of Information (SOIs), performs post-seizure
and search warrant analysis, supports large arrest operations (or "round-ups"),
prepares and conducts briefings for visitors to the HIDTA, and assists in trial
preparations. Additionally, the ISC conducts self-initiated intelligence
analysis projects to generate leads for HIDTA investigative agencies. The
Appalachia HIDTA Threat Assessment requires quarterly statistical reporting
so that resources and direction can be reevaluated among the HIDTA
Initiatives that were approved to implement the 2000 Appalachia HIDTA Strategy
- Eradicationa multi-agency aerial and ground surveillance effort to
identify and eliminate both outdoor and indoor-cultivated marijuana in attempts
to combat marijuana distribution and consumption in the three states. Within
the Eradication Initiative, agencies conduct operations to identify and
eliminate both outdoor and indoor-cultivated marijuana by providing trained
personnel and equipment to search for marijuana plots and grows and help
eliminate the marijuana cultivation.
- Investigation/Money Launderinga collocated joint operation
within each of the three-state areas focused on identifying and arresting
persons involved in marijuana cultivation and trafficking and/or persons
or businesses that are laundering drug trafficking proceeds. It conducts
follow-up investigations resulting from significant seizures from
- Interdictiona multi-agency effort to investigate, identify,
and immobilize inbound/ outbound major domestic/international marijuana
smuggling and trafficking by focusing on highway interdiction, as well as
commercial carrier and package interdiction. This includes three-state
combined resource efforts on specific locations at specific times of the year.
This focused interdiction effort is designed to compliment seasonal eradication
- Prosecutiona joint federal and state prosecution effort to
aggressively prosecute all marijuana and other illegal drug-related and
money laundering investigations. It concentrates on working with the
other initiatives to prosecute marijuana traffickers, cultivators and
violent felons to target their equipment, property, and currency assets
for seizure and forfeiture.
- Intelligencean operation consisting of the collocated HIDTA
Investigative Support Center (ISC) and the Marijuana Signature Lab located
in Frankfort, Kentucky. Together they provide strategic, operational, and
tactical intelligence to law enforcement officers and agencies. The
Signature Lab researches domestically produced marijuana in an effort
to determine areas of origin and trace the trafficking routes within the
United States. The ISC is charged with three primary functions, case
support, event deconfliction, and threat assessment development.
- Demand Reductionan effort to reduce marijuana use among
youth and alter the public consciousness that marijuana is a benign drug.
It is connected through regional prevention centers in the three states
and charged with stimulating the development of a comprehensive prevention
program for all Appalachia HIDTA-designated counties. This is being
accomplished by leveraging existing prevention resource programs and family
service organizations and integrating multi-media advertisement campaigns.
- Administrationa collocated group comprised of officials who are
responsible for both administration of the HIDTA funds and support of the
funded activities. It carries out the policies of the Executive Committee,
ensures that initiatives are established and executed in an effective
manner, provides program oversight, measures program effectiveness, and
revises initiatives where needed. It assists in the development of new
initiatives and reports periodically to ONDCP through the Executive Committee.
- Evaluationa unit located on the University of Louisville
campus that serves as a resource center for the Appalachia HIDTA Executive
Committee, Director, and Sub-committees for the Operations Initiative.
It develops baseline data and measures the effectiveness of the HIDTA
objectives as well as assists the Executive Committee and Director in
data collection and analysis related to fiscal and budgetary issues.
The Appalachia HIDTA has been instrumental in allowing the law enforcement
agencies within the three states to focus and concentrate on the tremendous
marijuana problem. Because of severe manpower and budgetary constraints, as
well as the proliferation of other drugs into the area, and the growing
cultural acceptance of marijuana, the participating agencies were previously
unable to dedicate the necessary resources to adequately address the marijuana
cultivation problem. This situation was exacerbated by a general judicial
sentiment within some of the state judicial circuits that trafficking
marijuana was a less serious offense than trafficking other substances.
The Appalachia HIDTA has refocused the spotlight on marijuana as a serious
threat to national health and well being, and allowed the participating
agencies to dedicate manpower to address the threat.
Additionally, the HIDTA Executive Committee conceptualized and implemented
the Marijuana Signature Lab that is the only effort of its kind in the United
States. This lab mirrors DEA's efforts in their signature programs of cocaine,
methamphetamine, and heroin in conducting its research to determine origin
and track the flow of domestically cultivated marijuana to its marketplaces
within the United States and even foreign lands.
Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, and Firearms, Drug Enforcement Administration,
Federal Bureau of Investigation, Internal Revenue ServiceCriminal
Investigation, Tennessee Valley Authority Police, United States Forest
Service, United States Marshal Service, United States National Park Service,
United States Attorney's OfficeEastern District of Kentucky, United
States Attorney's OfficeEastern District of Tennessee, United States
Attorney's OfficeMiddle District of Tennessee, United States Attorney's
OfficeNorthern District of West Virginia, United States Attorney's
OfficeSouthern District of West Virginia, United States Attorney's
OfficeWestern District of Kentucky, Department of Defense Joint
Task Force Six|
Kentucky State Police, Kentucky Vehicle Enforcement, Tennessee Alcohol
Beverage Commission, Tennessee Bureau of Investigation, Tennessee Department
of Public Safety, West Virginia Public Service Commission, West Virginia
Association of Chiefs of Police (KY, TN, WV), Sheriffs Association
(KY, TN, WV)
Champions for a Drug Free Kentucky, Civil Air Patrol, Kentucky Army National
Guard, Kentucky Commonwealth Attorney's Association, Laurel County Fiscal
Court, Tennessee District Attorney's Conference, Tennessee National
Guard, University of Louisville Justice Administration Department,
West Virginia Air National Guard, West Virginia Army National Guard, West
Virginia Prevention Resource Center, West Virginia Prosecuting Attorney's
Information is provided by the Appalachia HIDTA.