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Los Angeles HIDTA

General Information:
  Year of Designation:  1990
  Geographic Area of Responsibility:

The LA-HIDTA's designated geographic area in the State of California covers the four counties of Los Angeles, Orange, Riverside, and San Bernardino.

    Contact: (213) 989-6457 / (213) 989-6460

Mission Statement:

It is the mission of the LA-HIDTA to measurably reduce drug trafficking; thereby reducing the impact of illicit drugs in this and other areas of the country. This mission is to be accomplished through the use of multi-jurisdictional (Federal, State, and local), collocated, and commingled law enforcement and intelligence initiatives designed to attack, disrupt, and dismantle major drug trafficking and money laundering organizations that are operating in and through the LA-HIDTA region.

Threat Abstract:

The Los Angeles High Intensity Drug Trafficking Area's (LA-HIDTA) designated geographic area covers the four counties of Los Angeles, Orange, Riverside and San Bernardino and is comprised of some 32,341 square miles including 213 miles of coastline with a general population of (+/-) 16 million.

The economically and culturally diverse population of the region exceeds that of 41 states. The territorial expanse of the LA- HIDTA extends from Santa Catalina Island, located in the Pacific Ocean approximately 25 miles offshore, in the West to the Arizona and Nevada borders in the East. The Southern region of the LA-HIDTA is some 90 miles off of the United States / Mexico border. All types of narcotics are manufactured, imported and distributed within the LA-HIDTA and beyond.

Los Angeles – Only Primary Market in Country for All Five Major Drugs – Los Angeles is the only primary drug market area in the country for all five major drugs: cocaine; methamphetamine; marijuana; heroin and MDMA. Traffickers use the highways to transport most of the illicit drugs into and across the country as well as to move vast sums of illicit proceeds across and out of the country. Of the 13 primary market areas nationwide, Los Angeles is the only area identified as a primary market for all major drugs of abuse. It is the nation's largest market for methamphetamine, the largest market in the West for heroin and a staging ground for Mexican drug trafficking organizations and some National street gangs . (source NDIC)

Sea Threat – The Port of Los Angeles / Long Beach is the 3rd busiest seaport in the world – Busiest in the United States – 9.3 million containers / 123 million tons of cargo annually – 213 miles of shoreline .

Air Threat – The Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) recognizes 3 international, 94 municipal, and 3 seaplane airports within the LA-HIDA region. The Los Angeles International Airport (LAX) is the 5th busiest passenger airport in the world. 61 million passengers annually / 2,300 flights a day – 2 nd busiest for cargo – 1.9 million metric tons annually.

Land Threat – The land threat from the South is perhaps the most obvious where large quantities of illegal drugs are brought North on the major highways of the region .

Indigenous – The indigenous harvesting of marijuana in the nearby mountains and the continuing numbers of major poly-drug manufacturing and distribution systems pose a significant threat to our region. Inside the metropolitan and rural areas, hundreds of clandestine (large and small scale) methamphetamine labs continue to proliferate.

Strategy Abstract:

The Executive Board presently has eighteen voting members representing a working partnership of the major Federal, State and local law enforcement agencies that operate in the LA-HIDTA region. The LA-HIDTA Executive Board and its three subcommittees continue to take a very active and positive role in determining the strategy, priorities and overall direction of the LA- HIDTA. As a result of their input and guidance, the on-going effort on the part of all initiatives continues to be enhanced through mutual cooperation and teamwork.

The goals of the LA-HIDTA specifically focus on the dismantling and /or disrupting of major drug trafficking and money laundering organizations that operate in and through the region with a primary focus on cocaine, methamphetamine, marijuana, and heroin. The LA-HIDTA was originally designated as one of the Nations “major narcotic gateways”, a distinction which is most evident and holds true to this day.

The following chart reflects the Major Drug Trafficking Organizations impacted by the LA-HIDTA enforcement initiatives, 2001 through 2003:

In F/Y 2004, this HIDTA consists of six major task forces comprised of collocated Federal, State and local law enforcement agencies, three intelligence projects, which comprise the Intelligence Support System (ISS) and five critical support initiatives each dedicated to the task of positively impacting the major drug trafficking problems that continue to face our geographic region and country.

Over the years, the above mentioned LA- HIDTA enforcement/intelligence initiatives have seized significant amounts of dangerous drugs as reflected in the following chart:

LA-HIDTA Strategy -- Design / Planning - The Strategy for the Los Angeles High Intensity Drug Trafficking Area is developed in close concert with all of our enforcement and intelligence initiatives. At all levels of this dynamic process, we take into account both law enforcement missions / resources and the overall narcotics trafficking and money laundering threat in our region.

To assist in the process of ensuring that the Strategy adequately addresses the threat, a rather unique system of "reverse planning" is utilized. This plan brings together our various LA-HIDTA law enforcement and intelligence initiatives for the dual purpose of validating the various Strategy elements and establishing individual priorities and achievement goals. By combining the individual projected goals, the objectives of the Strategy are identified, and agreed upon, to include both expected outputs and desired outcomes.

Investigative Support System (ISS):


Intelligence Architecture Plan -- This plan redefines the intelligence responsibilities and priorities within the LA-HIDTA, effectively “bringing together” our intelligence projects ( Los Angeles Joint Drug Intelligence Group; Los Angeles County Regional Criminal Information Clearinghouse; and Inland Narcotics Clearing House) into what today is called the Intelligence Support System (ISS). It brings a much needed working memorandum of understanding between our intelligence initiatives, enhanced lines of communication, and provides clear definitive lines of responsibility.

Additionally, the process brings an enhanced level of intelligence service to the LA- HIDTA law enforcement community. The intelligence initiatives of the LA-HIDTA work to provide the most recent institutional drug intelligence. Additionally they provide deconfliction, pointer index, case support, target profiles, intelligence fusion, and predictive analysis to the entire law enforcement community in our region.

Intelligence Driven Law Enforcement -- In C/Y 2003, the three LA-HIDTA Intelligence Initiatives recorded 1,626 combined requests for service (an increase of 59% over last year) from various law enforcement agencies within our region which resulted in 21,469 analytical products (increase of 46% compared to 2002).

War Room / Intelligence Watch Center -- The War Room provides "real time" operational and tactical intelligence support by tracking, around-the-clock, all Federal, State and local law enforcement “high risk” operations within the four county region known as the LA-HIDTA. On-site Intelligence Analysts are available to immediately research the various law enforcement intelligence data bases thus enabling officers to conduct enhanced narcotic investigations.

Critical Event Tracking – LA-HIDTA Region -- In C/Y 2003 the War Room tracked 20,292 Critical Events in the LA- HIDTA region, an increase of 5.0% over last year . This number included 1,120 deconflictions (6.0% - one out of every eighteen critical events) wherein various law enforcement “high risk” operations are notified when they are about to conflict with each other during the course of their investigation.

Providing Deconfliction Services for Other HIDTA Regions – Currently, the Los Angeles County Regional Criminal Information Clearinghouse (LACRCIC) is providing the deconfliction services for the Los Angeles, Northern California, Central Valley and Nevada HIDTA's. This notable capability, within the 4 HIDTA regions, means that the LACRCIC “War Room” is providing service to 384 Federal, State and local law enforcement agencies; 24 out of 58 counties in California (41.4%) and 1 county in Nevada. The combining of regional law enforcement resources such as this, in order to successfully address major drug trafficking issues, truly speaks to the very essence of the ONDCP National HIDTA Program.

Participating Agencies:

Federal: Alcohol, Tobacco & Firearms; Drug Enforcement Administration; Federal Bureau of Investigation; Bureau of Immigration and Customs Enforcement; Internal Revenue Service; United States Attorney's Office; and the United States Marshal's Service.

State: California National Guard; State of California, Alcoholic Beverage Control; State of California, Department of Justice, Bureau of Narcotics Enforcement; State of California, Department of Justice, Criminal Intelligence Bureau; and the State of California, Highway Patrol.

Local: Alhambra Police Department; Arcadia Police Department; Azusa Police Department; Baldwin Park Police Department; Beaumont Police Department; Bell Police Department; Bell Gardens Police Department; Beverly Hills Police Department; Burbank Police Department; Corona Police Department; Costa Mesa Police Department; Culver City Police Department; Downey Police Department; El Monte Police Department; El Segundo Police Department; Fullerton Police Department; Gardena Police Department; Glendora Police Department; Hawthorne Police Department; Hemet Police Department; Hermosa Beach Police Department; Inglewood Police Department; Laguna Beach Police Department; LaVerne Police Department; Long Beach Police Department; Los Angeles County Sheriff's Department; Los Angeles Police Department; Monrovia Police Department; Montebello Police Department; Newport Beach Police Department; Orange County Sheriff's Department; Ontario Police Department; Palm Springs Police Department; Pasadena Police Department; Pomona Police Department; Port of Los Angeles Police Department; Redlands Police Department; Redondo Beach Police Department; Riverside County Sheriff's Department; Riverside Police Department; Santa Ana Police Department; San Bernardino County Sheriff's Department; San Gabriel Police Department; Tustin Police Department; Vernon Police Department; West Covina Police Department; and the Whittier Police Department.

Other: Los Angeles County District Attorney's Office; and the Western States Information Network.

Significant Achievements:

“Operation Running Water”
Southern California Drug Task Force
Group 45

Beginning in C/Y 2002 and continuing into C/Y2004, SCDTF, Group 45, has been involved in an extensive investigation focusing on a major PCP manufacturing organization. This investigation has led to a number of “spin-off” investigations, all of which focused on major PCP manufacturers and their command and control elements, that operate in and around the Los Angeles HIDTA region. Many of those individuals targeted were violent career criminals with extensive criminal histories ranging from manslaughter to assault and narcotics trafficking.

During this complex, multi-jurisdictional OCDETF investigation, 19 Federal Title III intercepts were launched against these independent organizations that worked in conjunction with one another. This investigation was conducted over a period of 20 months and has ties to other nationwide PCP trafficking organizations, specifically Houston, Texas, where the DEA Office has initiated a separate Title III investigation based on information and assistance from SCDTF, Group 45.

In the LA-HIDTA Region alone, this investigation has resulted in the Federal indictments of 64 individuals of which 57 have been arrested. In addition, 17 other suspects have been arrested on State charges. This brings the total arrests in this very remarkable case to 74. This investigation resulted in the seizure of approximately 8 operational / non operational PCP laboratories and chemicals capable of producing approximately 1,000 gallons of PCP, $610,000 in cash and assets and 86 handguns and rifles.

The Houston, Texas, takedown resulted in the Federal arrest of 14 individuals, seizure of approximately 6.5 gallons of PCP, 14 gallons of liquid codeine and some $23,000 in cash. Other information and intelligence has been provided to a number of DEA offices (New York; Chicago; Baton Rouge and Denver) across the country resulting in the arrest and prosecution of 5 other individuals for the manufacturing and distribution of PCP.

Special Notation – Local Violent Crime Impact – During this investigation, the Federal Title III intercepts assisted the Los Angeles Police Department with the identification of 1 homicide suspect who was arrested and convicted of second degree murder. The Los Angeles County District Attorney's Office believes that a conviction in this homicide investigation would not have been possible without the intercepted telephone calls. Intelligence and confidential source information developed in this investigation resulted in the solving of 3 additional homicides in the Los Angeles area. These homicide trials are currently pending. Additionally, 2 of the primary suspects arrested in this case are suspects in 17 other murders throughout the region.

Of significant importance is the fact that the LA-HIDTA region is the source of supply for most of the PCP distributed throughout the United States. As a direct result of this investigation, the availability of PCP has significantly decreased and the wholesale price has dramatically increased. The price of a gallon of PCP has doubled, from $10K to $20K . Additionally, much of the intelligence information has indicated that the few remaining PCP manufacturing organizations have changed their method of operation by moving out of the region.

The case illustrates the extraordinary results possible with cooperation among local, state, federal, law enforcement units .

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Last Updated: February 7, 2005