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Gulf Coast HIDTA

General Information:
  Year of Designation:  1996
  Geographic Area of Responsibility:

Baldwin, Jefferson, Madison, Mobile, Montgomery and Morgan Counties


Bossier, Caddo, East Baton Rouge, Jefferson, Lafayette, Orleans and Ouachita Parishes


Hancock, Harrison, Hinds, Jackson, Lafayette, Madison and Rankin Counties

    Contact: (504) 840-1400 and www.gchidta.org

Mission Statement:

The mission of the Gulf Coast HIDTA is to reduce illicit drug availability and its harmful consequences within its designated areas by standing intelligence-driven task forces and supporting infrastructure designed to target, disrupt and eliminate drug trafficking organizations impacting our region and beyond.

Threat Abstract:

The Gulf Coast HIDTA is comprised of 20 counties/parishes in Alabama, Louisiana and Mississippi. The three states are largely rural, agricultural and impoverished. The Gulf Coast HIDTA's geographic location between the southwest border and the eastern seaboard serves as a strategic corridor for drug traffickers transshipping drugs and money to and from eastern and northern parts of the country. Its combination of waterways, deep-water ports, railways, highway systems and airports are used extensively by drug trafficking and smuggling organizations. The casino gaming industry in Louisiana and Mississippi is also particularly attractive to drug trafficking organizations as an alternative for money laundering activities.

There are approximately 299 identified international, national and regional drug trafficking organizations operating within the Gulf Coast HIDTA. The drug of choice for consumers remains marijuana, although cocaine and its base derivative crack, cause the greatest impact on violent crime, the economy and society. Methamphetamine lab activity has dramatically increased in the last few years particularly in the northern portions of the three states. Much of this increase has been small manufacturing operations and is due to the ready availability of precursor chemicals such as ephederine/pseudo-ephederine and anhydrous ammonia. Heroin use has shown marked increases in some urban areas particularly the New Orleans metropolitan area. The popularity of “club drugs” such as MDMA, LSD and GHB is on the rise throughout the Gulf Coast HIDTA. The prescription drug OxyContin has emerged as a significant abuse problem across the three states. Many areas within the three-state HIDTA rank among the top in the nation for occurrences of violent crimes. This trend is attributed directly to drug trafficking and use.

Strategy Abstract:

The Gulf Coast HIDTA strategy is to address our drug problem through a multi- faceted, threat driven approach balancing drug enforcement efforts targeting local, regional and international drug trafficking/money laundering organizations operating within our area. This is accomplished through a coordinated effort among federal, state, and local law enforcement agencies. The result of this strategy brings unprecedented synergism and synchronization among law enforcement agencies within the Gulf Coast HIDTA.

Training is another important component of our approach. The ever-changing drug trafficking environment requires continual training opportunities to provide area drug enforcement officers with the latest and most successful investigative techniques available. HIDTA training is free to all agencies and is coordinated with other training organizations in the three-state area to provide a balanced venue to officers. Gulf Coast HIDTA training is coordinated by a designated training officer collocated with the Gulf Coast HIDTA Mississippi Operations Center.

The Gulf Coast HIDTA strives to maintain and improve a systematic approach to facilitate cooperative, collaborative law enforcement efforts, balancing direct support to enforcement operations with robust systems designed to enhance law enforcement efforts. The Gulf Coast HIDTA strategy is continually fine-tuned to ensure it addresses the ever-changing drug threat. To accurately measure present drug activity and predict future trends, the Gulf Coast HIDTA coordinates among federal, state, and local law enforcement agencies the production and publication of a yearly threat assessment. The yearly threat assessment is used to develop the strategy and align resources. The strategy is implemented through the funding of specific initiatives that target aspects of the threat in a multi-agency collocated environment.

In 2004, the Gulf Coast HIDTA funded Operation Centers in each state and thirteen (13) other enforcement initiatives targeting various aspects of the drug threat throughout our three-state HIDTA. The Management and Coordination initiative provides programmatic and administrative oversight and is collocated with the Louisiana Operations Center in Metairie, LA.

Investigative Support Center:

The Gulf Coast HIDTA Intelligence Coordination Network (ICN) serves as the intelligence coordination mechanism for all funded initiatives. Due to the locations of our initiatives, which are dispersed across a three-state area, an innovative method of collecting, analyzing and disseminating actionable intelligence had to be devised; hence the ICN. The core of the network is the Network Coordination Group (NCG) located in Metairie, Louisiana, collocated with the Louisiana Operations Center, another HIDTA funded enforcement initiative. The supervisor of the NCG is a Drug Enforcement Administration Supervisory Intelligence Research Specialist who oversees analysts who are responsible for the collection and distribution of strategic intelligence among initiatives. The group also coordinates the production of our annual threat assessment.

Collocated with the NCG is the Gulf Coast HIDTA Intelligence Coordinator. The Intelligence Coordinator ensures intelligence assets (analysts and intelligence initiatives) dispersed throughout the Gulf Coast HIDTA are fully integrated and sharing information. He is also responsible for implementation of the General Counterdrug Intelligence Plan (GCIP) in accordance with ONDCP and participating agency guidelines.

The BLOC/HIDTA Watch Center is a United States Customs initiative, located in Gulfport, Mississippi. It is a 24 hour/7 day intelligence support center. Analysts provide real-time law enforcement intelligence to all HIDTA initiative and to over 2,548 customs cross-designated state and local law enforcement officers across a six state area. They also house a post seizure analysis team that conducts analysis of seizures reported to the center. The center also distributes a daily intelligence summary to law enforcement agencies throughout the country summarizing previous day's seizures.

Intelligence exchange is accomplished through the Gulf Coast HIDTA wide-area- network (WAN) which allows for instantaneous, secure transmission of sensitive intelligence data among initiatives along with secure e-mail and other cost saving advantages.

The WAN also serves as the communications backbone for the Gulf Coast HIDTA digital wire intercept facility located in Metairie, Louisiana. The wire intercept facility provides both HIDTA and non-HIDTA entities the ability to monitor court ordered wiretaps utilizing state-of-the- art digital technology.

Further, the GC HIDTA is a node on the national RISS.NET system allowing our intelligence databases to be hosted and accessed in a secure environment by other law enforcement and analytical personnel across the country.

The GC HIDTA Intelligence Sub-System also includes the Technical Support Team.

Participating Agencies:

ATF, DEA, Joint Task Force Six, FBI, IRS, USCG, USCS, NPS

Alabama -
Alabama Attorney General's Office, Alabama Bureau of Investigation, Alabama Department of Public Safety, Alabama Highway Patrol, Baldwin County Sheriff's Office, Bayou La Batre Police Department, Bessemer Police Department, Birmingham Police Department, Daphne Police Department, Decatur Police Department, Fairfield Police Department, Fairhope Police Department, Foley Police Department, Gulfshore Police Department, Huntsville Police Department, Jefferson County Sheriff's Office, Madison County District Attorney's Office, Madison County Sheriff's Department, Madison Police Department, Mobile Police Department, Mobile County Sheriff's Office, Montgomery County Sheriff's Office, Montgomery Police Department, Morgan County Sheriff's Department, Orange Beach Police Department, Saraland Police Department, University of Southern Alabama Police Department
Louisiana - Acadia Parish Sheriff's Department, Ascension District Attorney's Office, Ascension Parish Sheriff's Office, Baton Rouge Police Department, Bossier Parish Sheriff's Office, Caddo Parish Canine, Caddo Sheriff's Office, Crowley Police Department, East Baton Rouge Parish Sheriff's Office, Gonzales Police Department, Jefferson Parish Sheriff's Office, Lafayette Police Department, Louisiana Air National Guard, Louisiana Army National Guard, Louisiana Office of Alcohol and Tobacco Control, Louisiana State Police, Monroe Police Department, New Orleans Police Department, Ouachita Parish Sheriff's Office, Port Allen Police Department, Shreveport Canine, Shreveport Police Department, St. Landry Sheriff's Office, St. Martin Sheriff's Office, St. Mary Parish Sheriff's Department, West Baton Rouge Parish Sheriff's Office, West Monroe Police Department, Westwego Police Department
Mississippi - Bay St. Louis Police Department, Biloxi Police Department, Flowood Police Department, Gautier Police Department, Gulfport Police Department, Harrison County Sheriff's Office, Hinds County Sheriff's Department, Jackson County Sheriff's Office, Jackson Municipal Airport Authority, Jackson Police Department, Mississippi Bureau of Narcotics, Mississippi Department of Public Safety, Mississippi Highway Patrol, Moss Point Police Department, Ocean Springs Police Department, Oxford Police Department, Panola County Sheriff's Office, Pascagoula Police Department, Pearl Police Department, Rankin County Sheriff's Department, Southaven Police Department, Tupelo Police Department

Significant Achievements:

The Gulf Coast HIDTA has been uniquely successful in marshalling a singular attack aimed at drug trafficking elements operating within our three-state area. By coordinating federal, state and local law enforcement's response to identified drug threats through the funding of initiatives, the Gulf Coast HIDTA ensures drug enforcement assets remain focused on drug trafficking organizations impacting the drug problem in our area and beyond. The Gulf Coast HIDTA continues to develop innovative ways to provide area task forces with secure communications to share intelligence. Through the use of the Gulf Coast HIDTA wide-area-network, the refinement of a web- based event/target deconfliction solution (SAFETNet), and our Intelligence Coordination Network, drug law enforcement units in our area have achieved unprecedented levels of collaboration and sharing of precious resources.

In 2004, HIDTA-supported highway interdiction efforts have led to major drug seizures and the confiscation of millions of dollars of illicit drug proceeds. The Gulf Coast HIDTA supports these efforts by providing real-time indices checks to highway interdiction officers of federal, state and local databases through queries made by the HIDTA/BLOC Watch Center located in Gulfport, MS. The Watch Center has expanded its services to include support to Atlanta HIDTA highway interdiction officers as well. HIDTA-assigned investigators assist interdiction officers providing on-scene intelligence collection, evidence processing and the coordination of controlled deliveries. Through these efforts, routine drug interdiction seizures oftentimes result in expanding investigations implicating other elements of sophisticated drug trafficking organizations.

The Gulf Coast HIDTA developed event deconfliction solution, SAFETNet has now been adopted by fifteen (15) other HIDTAs. Presently, the Gulf Coast HIDTA provides secure, web-based event/target deconfliction services to the Appalachia, Atlanta and New England HIDTAs from its server located in Metairie, LA, resulting in considerable savings of operational and start-up costs.

These are but a few examples of how the Gulf Coast HIDTA has utilized its resources to benefit area law enforcement and other HIDTAs. Such sharing of resources has become a standard within the HIDTA program and has opened new vistas and opportunities in law enforcement expanding far beyond drug-focused operations.

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Last Updated: February 7, 2005

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