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Philadelphia/Camden HIDTA

Mission Statement: The Philadelphia/Camden HIDTA will use a multi-faceted program to reduce the cultivation, production, trafficking, distribution, and use of illegal drugs. The Philadelphia/Camden HIDTA will increase the safety and quality of life of the citizens in the Philadelphia/Camden region by measurably reducing drug-related crime and violence.

General Information:
Year of Designation: 1995
Geographic Area of Responsibility:
Pennsylvania: Philadelphia County
New Jersey: City of Camden New Jersey within Camden County
Contact: (215) 560-1661

Threat Abstract:

The Philadelphia/Camden HIDTA was designated in 1995. Philadelphia remains a center of activity for the importation, wholesale distribution, and street level sales of illegal drugs on the East Coast. Camden, New Jersey, separated from Philadelphia by the Delaware River, is a focal point for drug trafficking from Philadelphia and the New York area. The location of Philadelphia and Camden on the eastern seaboard, particularly their proximity to New York, places the city on one of the busiest illegal drug transit routes. Major interstate rail and highway systems; a major international airport, one of the fastest growing in the world; and key shipping terminals on the 100 miles of waterfront along the Delaware River facilitate drug trafficking into and through the region. The Port of Philadelphia/Camden is a major international seaport and the second largest seaport in the nation. Multi-kilogram shipments of cocaine are trafficked through this port. Major New York drug trafficking organizations use Philadelphia as a transshipment point for their drugs, drug-proceeds, and illegal guns. New York gangs have expanded their territory to the outskirts of the area.

Cocaine is the drug most used in the region; heroin is considered the fastest growing drug and greatest health threat in the region, and locally produced methamphetamine remains readily available. The HIDTA is located in a significant consumer region for imported marijuana. Money transmittal businesses have become an emerging industry, contributing to the already existent money-laundering problem. Violent crime is heavily concentrated in a patchwork of neighborhoods where crime rates are among the nation's highest. Open-air cocaine, crack, and heroin transactions on street corners are an overpowering threat in both cities. Both cities have measurably reduced the open air drug trafficking and the associated violent crime through "Quality of Life" investigations by two HIDTA Initiatives.

Strategy Abstract:

The Philadelphia/Camden HIDTA Executive Committee is comprised of fifteen local, state, and Federal law enforcement leaders in the states of Pennsylvania and New Jersey. Specifically, this HIDTA's area of responsibility includes the cities of Philadelphia and Camden respectively. A unified effort among law enforcement and prosecution agencies ensures a coordinated effort to reduce the impact of cocaine and heroin distribution within the region. Coordinated activities extend throughout the State of Pennsylvania and Southern New Jersey. A total of twenty-three agencies participate in eleven HIDTA Initiatives. The administrative component, Regional Investigative Support Center, along with three enforcement Initiatives are located in the US Customs House in Center City Philadelphia. Three interdiction units along with the IRS Narco-Dollar Task Force are co-located at the Philadelphia International Airport. All locations are connected through a secured wide area network to communicate interactively with the Regional Investigative Support Center (RISC). The RISC includes a Watch Center that provides real-time deconfliction on enforcement events, along with intelligence, analytical support to all Initiatives.

Investigative Support Center:

Central to the Philadelphia/Camden HIDTA success is the establishment of the Regional Investigative Support Center (RISC), which coordinates the collection, analyses, and dissemination of all drug related intelligence for the Philadelphia/Camden area. The HIDTA RISC receives collects, organizes, and interprets intelligence information concerning drug trafficking in the area. Coordination of enforcement activity (deconfliction) to prevent duplication of investigative efforts and encourage officer safety is a primary function of the RISC's Watch Center. As important are the intelligence fusion, case support, and strategic intelligence components of the RISC's Intelligence Center. The RISC continues to develop within the HIDTA headquarters serving as the hub for the collection and analysis of information from Philadelphia and Camden. Communication between the two locations and the HIDTA headquarters is by way of a secure wide area network, providing a secure Intranet as well as external access to the Internet. The source information is incident-report based; stripping pertinent data relating to drug trafficking and the violent crime which supports it and entering such in a complex set of hardware and software for use by the investigating detectives/special agents. The network includes a matrix of agency indices and software and accompanying hardware to fulfill the mission.

Initiatives the following initiatives were implemented as part of the 2000 Philadelphia/Camden HIDTA Strategy:

  1. Criminal Conspiracy Squad—pursues, disrupts and dismantles firearms trafficking and violent crime organizations through this federally led co-located multi-agency task force.
  2. Hotel Interdiction Project—interdict drugs and money entering and leaving the Philadelphia area through various hotels in and around Philadelphia.
  3. Joint Camden HIDTA Task Force—a co-located, multi-agency task force which investigates and interdicts drug trafficking activity, firearms and violence in the city of Camden. The team will curtail activity in open-air drug markets and the importation of drugs through the Port of Camden.
  4. Narco-Dollar Task Force—a co-located, multi-agency task force that investigates large-scale money laundering organizations within the region. The task force also targets money remitters, car dealerships and realtors involved in laundering drug proceeds.
  5. Operation Sunrise—a large co-located, multi-agency task force which targets open air drug sales markets in the most dangerous and downtrodden areas of the city and major drug trafficking organizations for dismantlement.
  6. Parcel Squad Initiative—a co-located, multi-agency task force that investigates the use of all parcel delivery systems to smuggle drugs and drug proceeds for interdiction.
  7. Philadelphia District Attorney and Police Department HIDTA Centerpiece Task Force—supports all Philadelphia HIDTA Initiatives with surveillance, warrant executions, undercover work, wire taps, and intelligence in order to dismantle and disrupt drug trafficking, money laundering, and violent drug trafficking organizations.
  8. Philadelphia Mass Transportation Interdiction Unit—a co-located, multi-agency task force that targets domestic drug transportation organizations utilizing the Philadelphia area transportation routes and systems to smuggle drugs into and transport drug proceeds out of the region.
  9. Philadelphia/Camden Seaport Task Force—a collocated, multi-agency task force that targets inbound cargo shipments and vessels from narcotics source and transshipment countries.
  10. Violent Crimes/Fugitive Task Force—pursues OCDETF and other violent drug-related fugitives through the efforts of a Federally led co-located multi- agency task force.
  11. Regional Investigative Support Center (RISC)—provides real time criminal intelligence, investigative and prosecutorial support to all law enforcement entities participating in the HIDTA program through the collection of data, organizational information, and intelligence. RISC also operates an event safety based deconfliction program and global positioning assistance for surveillance. Federal, state and local intelligence databases are online in the RISC.

Outcomes:

The Regional Investigative Support Center was made operational with the assignment of full-time Philadelphia Police Department officers and supervisors manning the Watch Center, 8:00 AM- 10:00 PM, Monday-Friday. The Watch Center monitors the Deconfliction Event Program to ensure agency cooperation and officer safety. There were 7,105 events deconflicted with 2,385 events that were found to be in conflict during 1999. The Center has provided information on 7,534 data entries and inquiry requests from agencies and has provided 220 intelligence case reports. The co-location of three interdiction Initiatives at an off-site office near the Philadelphia International Airport for better coordination and cooperation were created.

A money laundering Initiative hosted by the Internal Revenue Service who provides financial analysis support to HIDTA Initiatives and is co-located at the airport off-site was established.

The Hidden Traffickers Program wherein arrest information of persons residing outside the Philadelphia/Camden HIDTA is shared with county prosecutors and the New York/New Jersey and Washington/Baltimore HIDTAs was implemented.

Also, field drug identification training is currently offered to the newly assigned Philadelphia Police Officers in the District Drug Teams.

Participating Agencies:

Federal: Bureau of Alcohol Tobacco, and Firearms, Drug Enforcement Administration, Federal Bureau of Investigation, Immigration and Naturalization Service, Internal Revenue Service, United States Customs Service, United States Marshal Service, United States Postal Inspection Service

State: New Jersey State Police, Pennsylvania Office of Attorney General, Pennsylvania State Police

Local: Camden County Prosecutor's Office, Camden County Sheriff's Office, Camden Police Department, Philadelphia District Attorney's Office, Philadelphia Housing Authority, Philadelphia Police Department

Other: New Jersey National Guard, Pennsylvania National Guard, United States Attorney's Offices (Eastern District of Pennsylvania, District of New Jersey), United States Health and Human Services

Information is provided by the Philadelphia/Camden HIDTA.

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