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Southwest Border HIDTA
Arizona Partnership

Mission Statement: The mission of the Southwest Border HIDTA Arizona Partnership is to facilitate federal, state and local multi-agency task forces and other partnerships to increase the safety of Arizona's citizens, by substantially reducing drug trafficking and money laundering, thereby reducing drug-related crime and violence.

General Information:
Year of Designation: 1990
Geographic Area of Responsibility:
Arizona: Cochise, Maricopa, Mohave, Pima, Pinal, Santa Cruz, Yuma counties
Contact: 520-547-8899

Threat Abstract:

The Southwest Border HIDTA Arizona Partnership, comprised of counties designated in 1990 as part of the Southwest Border HIDTA, consists of seven Arizona counties: Cochise, Maricopa, Mohave, Pima, Pinal, Santa Cruz, and Yuma. Arizona's 370-mile border with Mexico consists of sparsely populated areas, vast expanses of rugged mountainous terrain aligned in north-south corridors, and broad valleys and desert. Such geography provides unlimited opportunities for drug-related activities. The region has six U.S. Customs land ports of entry (three major ports), six designated international airports, and an excellent transportation infrastructure exploited by drug traffickers.

The two major metropolitan areas in the region, Tucson and Phoenix, are primary distribution centers and drug transit areas with their close proximity and easy access to the Arizona-Sonora, Mexico border. Multi-ton quantities of cocaine and marijuana and increasingly large quantities of methamphetamine and heroin are smuggled into these cities for eventual transportation and distribution throughout the country. Major drug trafficking and money laundering groups operate in Arizona and Mexico. Drug-related violence, homicides, and property crimes are increasingly perpetrated by drug gangs and abusers. Four major and 19 secondary Mexican drug trafficking organizations impact Arizona. Marijuana continues to be the most abused and trafficked drug in the state. Cocaine is the second most abused drug. Methamphetamine, due to the nature of its manufacture, poses the most significant policing problem statewide. Drug proceeds are smuggled from Arizona to Mexico in bulk form by vehicles, commerce shipments, private and commercial aircraft, and pedestrians. Easy access to illicit drugs has generated local community drug abuse problems throughout the state. Increased interdiction has frustrated alien and narcotic smugglers. The result has been increased acts of violence toward law enforcement agents.

Strategy Abstract:

The Arizona Executive Committee of 13 Arizona law enforcement executives monitors the Director's implementation of the strategy and provides a coordination umbrella over the 21 networked initiatives operating in the seven designated Arizona counties. Each county has a primary investigative or interdiction task force consisting of federal, state, and local agencies working in collocated or collaborative environments targeting the most significant drug trafficking organizations in their geographic area. In the three counties that border Mexico, the "centerpiece" task forces are primarily focused on interdiction responsibilities. Specialized task forces target violent drug gangs, specialized prosecutions, the movement of drug money and money laundering, and include intelligence collection and sharing initiatives. All the Arizona Partnership task forces provide their intelligence databases to the Arizona HIDTA Center in Tucson, Arizona. The center ensures automated and human access to databases for task force personnel and other law enforcement agencies. The Arizona Partnership has five separate, but integrally related priorities: 1) Interdiction of drug smuggling from Mexico and South America; 2) The investigation, prosecution and dismantlement of major drug smuggling, trafficking, and money laundering organizations in Arizona; 3) The immobilization of methamphetamine laboratories and the control of drug lab precursor chemicals in Arizona; 4) The control and reduction of violent crime associated with drug trafficking; and 5) The collection, analysis and dissemination of drug related intelligence to law enforcement agencies. All Arizona Partnership initiatives are committed to sharing intelligence with each other and the Arizona HIDTA Center.

Investigative Support Center:

The Arizona Investigative Support Center (ISC), the linchpin of the Arizona Partnership, is a multi-agency mechanism based on cooperative relationships in intelligence collection planning, intelligence and resource sharing, and mutually-beneficial joint working relationships among the collocated local, state and federal agencies. The purpose of the Center is to facilitate the sharing of limited resources, and to ensure all sources of drug intelligence are available to assist law enforcement agencies in their counterdrug efforts. An interdictive Partnership, the ISC's strategy is to link investigative, prosecutorial and intelligence efforts with interdiction. The Border Interdiction Unit manages event deconfliction (LECC), the border coordination initiative, target information, special operations (COBIJA), the law enforcement coordination center and the all-source analytical cell (tactical/strategic support, pattern, trend and predictive intelligence). The Conspiracy Analytical Unit manages case deconfliction, cross-case analysis, data base research, threat assessment, electronic communication analysis, organizational profiles, targeting and case analysis. This unit is divided into two sections with distinct functions: research and analysis. The research section is the primary research unit for all the collocated federal, state and local agencies assigned to the ISC. The unit facilitates research of information on suspects and the dissemination of pertinent data to other law enforcement agencies and the Partnership task forces. The analysis unit provides law enforcement agencies in Arizona with case management, follow up on case data, analytical assistance to officers, and graphic presentations of case data for the investigator and for court. The ISC also publishes the annual Threat Assessment.

Initiatives that were approved to implement the 2000 Southwest Border HIDTA Arizona Strategy include:

  1. Arizona HIDTA—a collocated group consisting of four law enforcement agencies, a translation cell with Arizona National Guard personnel, and staff; responsible for the planning, coordinating, and implementation of HIDTA program policies and guidance; supports the development of strategies, reports, and initiatives, day-to-day functioning of the Partnership, training, and fiscal and programmatic accountability.
  2. Arizona HIDTA Center—collocation of federal, state, and local law enforcement resources involved in counter-drug investigations. The Law Enforcement Coordination Center provides event/case deconfliction for special interdiction operations. The intelligence division collects, analyzes, coordinates, and disseminates drug trafficking information and investigative intelligence to participating agencies. The post seizure analysis team identifies the connection among seizures of narcotics contraband, narcotic related asset seizures, narcotic related violent crimes, provides research assistance, and maintains a database.
  3. Arizona HIDTA Training Center—an all-purpose, comprehensive drug enforcement training facility consisting of firearms training ranges, classrooms, and other tactical training areas to train law enforcement officers in dealing with the threat from drug trafficking.
  4. Arizona's for a Drug-Free Workplace—collaborates with HIDTA task forces to provide Arizona businesses and employees with drug-free workplace education, technical assistance and training for the detection of drug abuse in the workplace; promotes the safety and health of Arizona citizens by reducing drug-related crime.
  5. Border Anti-Narcotic Network—a cooperative federal, state, and tribal task force targeted on reducing drug trafficking and related crimes; covers approximately 8,000 square miles and 150 miles of international border operating on the lands of the Tohono O'odham Nation Reservation, the Organ Pipe National Park, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Refuges, and all adjacent land between Santa Cruz and Yuma Counties.
  6. Cochise County Border Alliance Group—a multi-agency task force with 85 miles of international border and two major ports of entry; dismantles major smuggling organizations through interdiction; locates transshipment holding points, narcotic production labs and marijuana cultivation sites; and collects, analyzes, and disseminates narcotic intelligence.
  7. HIDTA Enforcement Agencies Task Force—a multi-agency group collocated in Phoenix, Tucson, and Yuma that apprehends fugitives in order to disrupt narcotics smuggling, distribution, money laundering, and street gang activities.
  8. HIDTA Investigative Narcotic Technical Support Center—a multi-agency group in Tucson providing surveillance technology and operational support for all participating agencies conducting counter-narcotic investigations against organizations responsible for importing, transshipping, and distributing narcotics from the southwest border area into the United States.
  9. Joint Drug Intelligence Group—a collocated, multi-agency intelligence group under the direction of the FBI in Phoenix, Arizona that collects, evaluates, analyzes, and disseminates information concerning drug trafficking organizations; provides strategic intelligence support against major criminal conspiracies; and supports historical conspiracy prosecutions on significant enterprises operating in Arizona and the southwest border.
  10. Maricopa County HIDTA Methamphetamine Task Force—a collocated federal, state, and local effort under the direction of the Maricopa County Sheriff's Department, identifies and dismantles clandestine methamphetamine labs; targets individuals/groups selling and distributing methamphetamine and their precursor chemicals; responds to lab seizures throughout the state with chemist and SWAT expertise to insure safety in handling and disposing of hazardous and toxic chemicals used in methamphetamine production; and gathers, compiles, and disseminates methamphetamine intelligence.
  11. Metro Intelligence Support and Technical Investigative Center—a multi-agency group located in Phoenix that forms drug squads to conduct long-term, complex investigations targeting regional, national, and international drug trafficking organizations, supported by a Service Center, with technical capabilities, an intelligence gathering system, and an asset forfeiture unit.
  12. Metropolitan Area Narcotics Trafficking Interdiction Squads—a multi-agency, collocated task force in Tucson that investigates all levels of drug trafficking, with particular emphasis on gang activity, drug-related violence and homicides in Pima County and southern Arizona.
  13. Mohave Area Group Narcotics Enforcement Team—a multi-agency task force responsible for all narcotic investigations in Mohave County, with an emphasis on methamphetamine investigations.
  14. Multi-Agency Surveillance Team—a multi-agency, collocated task force that augments major case development and Title III investigations conducted by HIDTA task forces by adding a specialized and dedicated surveillance team assigned to these cases as directed by the Arizona Executive Committee.
  15. Phoenix Financial Task Force—a collocated, multi-agency task force that conducts long term financial investigations in order to dismantle the most significant drug trafficking and money laundering and transportation organizations operating in the region.
  16. Pima County HIDTA Investigative Task Force—a multi-agency, collocated group that identifies, targets, and investigates drug trafficking and money laundering organizations operating in Pima County.
  17. Pinal County Drug Task Force—a multi-agency, collocated task force that conducts complex investigations targeting major drug trafficking/producing organizations and methamphetamine laboratories in Pinal County.
  18. Santa Cruz County Drug Enforcement Unit—a multi-agency, collocated investigative and interdiction task force in Nogales, Arizona; combats organized crime in Santa Cruz County, targeting secondary core organizations and providers, local distributors, stash houses and organization members; pays particular attention to methods of transportation.
  19. Southern Arizona Border Initiative—six multi-agency task forces in Tucson, Sierra Vista, Nogales, and Yuma target key command and control elements of the major drug trafficking organizations operating in southern Arizona, and integrate efforts of all participating agencies and existing task forces in the area.
  20. Southern Arizona Safe Trails Initiative—targets violent criminal organizations and members on the Tohono O'odham Reservation in order to reduce the incidence of drug and gang related violent crimes on the reservation.
  21. Tucson Financial Task Force—a collocated, multi-agency task force it conducts long-term complex investigations targeting drug money laundering organizations.
  22. Yuma County HIDTA Task Force—a collocated, multi-agency task force (Southwest Border Alliance), interdicts, investigates, disrupts, and dismantles major drug trafficking and money laundering organizations utilizing Yuma as their base of operations.


One of the significant contributions of the Arizona Partnership to creating effective and efficient law enforcement partnerships, is the success of Operation COBIJA ('blanket'). This operation had its inception when the Analysis Unit of the Arizona Partnership developed a master intelligence collection plan for a border-wide reciprocal intelligence sharing and interdiction project. The LECC, the Research unit and the Analysis unit analyze and disseminate the intelligence collected. COBIJA 6, planned for November 2000, is the product of Arizona Partnership's vision of a synchronized anti-smuggling effort along the entire southwest border. This unique vehicle has increased the coordination and cooperation of an increasing number of participants collecting and sharing intelligence along the entire southwest border. Under Arizona Partnership's leadership, local, state and federal investigative, intelligence and prosecutorial agencies in both HIDTA and non-HIDTA task force initiatives, have greatly enhanced law enforcement's efforts to combat smuggling of aliens, currency and illegal narcotics in this coordinated border-wide endeavor. Arizona Partnership, by establishing partnerships, collocating agencies and their electronic resources, and formulating a border-wide collection plan, has fostered an environment exchange intelligence. In addition, the Arizona Partnership has established an automated deconfliction system to increase officer safety; has integrated a GIS system to track aircraft fades and seizures, a first for Arizona; published an annual statewide threat assessment, also a first for Arizona; and provides an environment for training.

Participating Agencies:

Federal: Drug Enforcement Administration, Federal Bureau of Investigation, Immigration and Naturalization Service, Internal Revenue Service, United States Attorney's Office, United States Border Patrol, United States Customs Service, United States Fish and Wildlife Service, United States Forest Service, United States Marshal Service, United States National Park Service, Department of Defense Joint Task Force Six, Department of Interior Bureau of Land Management, Financial Crimes Enforcement Network

State: Arizona Attorney General's Office, Arizona Department of Public Safety, the Joint Counter Narcotics Task Force, University of Arizona Police Department Local: Arizona Western College Police Department, Bullhead City Police Department, Casa Grande Police Department, Cochise County Attorney's Office, Cochise County Sheriff's Department, Benson Police Department, Bisbee Police Department, Douglas Police Department, Glendale Police Department, Internal Revenue Service, Kearney Police Department, Kingman Police Department, Lake Havasu City Police Department, Marana Police Department, Maricopa County Sheriff's Office, Mohave County Sheriff's Department, Nogales Police Department, Oro Valley Police Department, Patagonia Marshal's Office, Phoenix Police Department, Pima Community College Police Department, Pima County Attorney's Office, Pima County Attorney's Office, Pima County Sheriff's Department, Pinal County Sheriff's Office, San Luis Police Department, Santa Cruz County Sheriff's Department, Somerton Police Department, South Tucson Police Department, Tucson Airport Authority Police Department, Tucson Police Department, University of Arizona Police Department, Wellton Police Department, Willcox Police Department, Yuma Police Department, Yuma County Sheriff's Office

Other: The Tohono O'odham Nation Police Department

Information is provided by the Southwest Border HIDTA Arizona Partnership.