Drug Investigation Division Special Agents assigned to the Appalachia High-Intensity Drug Trafficking area focus their efforts on drug trafficking in a range of counties throughout East and Upper East Tennessee.
In April 1998, the U.S. Office of National Drug Control Policy (ONDCP) officially designated areas within Tennessee, Kentucky and West Virginia as the Appalachia High Intensity Drug Trafficking Area (HIDTA). This designation was the result of a threat assessment by ONDCP that identified this tri-state area as one particularly vulnerable to certain types of illegal drug activity. The federally funded HIDTA program enhances and coordinates drug control efforts among local, state, and federal law enforcement agencies.
The Appalachia HIDTA is comprised of sixty-five counties located within the states of Kentucky, Tennessee, and West Virginia; twenty-nine of these counties are in Tennessee. 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 that comprise the Appalachia HIDTA.