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Arizona Regional Partnership
Southwest Border HIDTA

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

Cochise, La Paz, Maricopa, Mohave, Pima, Pinal, Santa Cruz, and Yuma Counties.

    Contact: (520) 746-4426/4400

Mission Statement:

To facilitate federal/state/local multi-agency task forces and other partnerships to increase the safety of Arizona's citizens, by substantially reducing drug trafficking, money laundering, and drug-related crime and violence.

Threat Abstract:

Arizona continues to be one of the fastest growing states in the nation. This rapid population growth continues to strain law enforcement resources. The region has six Customs land ports of entry, three of which are major ports, five designated international airports, and an excellent transportation infrastructure that is exploited by drug traffickers. The two major metropolitan areas in the HIDTA, Tucson and Phoenix, are primary distribution centers and drug transit areas with close proximity and easy access to the Arizona-Sonora border. The primary threat is from major drug trafficking, money laundering groups, and street gangs that operate in Arizona and Mexico.

Arizona is considered a transshipment point for loads of drugs, primarily marijuana, cocaine, Mexican black tar heroin, and increasingly methamphetamine produced in Mexico, destined for other areas in the U.S. Marijuana continues to be the most abused and trafficked drug in the state that serves as America's pipeline for Mexican marijuana. Cocaine remains the second most abused drug. Methamphetamine poses the most significant policing problem statewide and has replaced cocaine as the second most popular drug of choice in several areas of the state. It is the most abused stimulant drug in Arizona. Heroin is the least abused illicit drug in Arizona. Mexican black tar heroin is the most common type of heroin available in Arizona. Ecstasy has become an �acceptable� and trendy drug among teens and young adults. Marijuana seizures in CY2003 were 911,854 pounds. This represents a 57% increase from CY 2002.

Cocaine seizures dropped from 7,540 pounds in CY 2002 to 6,347 pounds in CY 2003. Clandestine methamphetamine laboratory seizures decreased from 297 in CY 2002 to 116 in CY 2003; however, statewide seizures increased from 639 pounds to 1,641 pounds on CY 2003. Statewide methamphetamine seizures in Arizona have increased 160% since CY
2000. Increased numbers of seizures have occurred at the ports of entry and in traffic stops. Heroin is routinely smuggled into the United States through Arizona Ports of Entry. Heroin seizures are down from 15 pounds in CY 2002 to 11 pounds in CY 2003. Drug proceeds are smuggled from Arizona to Mexico in bulk by vehicles, commerce shipments, private and commercial aircraft, and pedestrians. The easy access to illicit drugs generates local community drug abuse problems throughout the state.

Increased interdiction efforts have frustrated the alien and narcotic smuggler. This has resulted in significant acts of aggression and violence toward law enforcement officials. Drug trafficking and consumption in the region inevitably lead to drug-related crime. In CY 2003 violent crime statistics for homicides, robberies, aggravated assaults, rapes, and property were up. Drug- related violence and property crime are increasingly perpetrated by drug gangs and abusers and threatens the safety of Arizona's citizens.

Strategy Abstract:

The Arizona HIDTA operates as an extension of the Southwest Border HIDTA and under the guidance of the Office of National Drug Control Policy. Participating agencies have their own missions, strategies, and policies/procedures. The Arizona HIDTA Executive Committee (AHEC) provides the unity of effort and coordination to synchronize the HIDTA strategy as it targets the drug threat and reduces drug- related crime. The AHEC consists of 13 voting members, 5 local, 3 state, and 5 federal. There is also one non-voting member - JTF-6. The AHEC is a policy making board that may empower subcommittees to accomplish their objectives. They review and approve annual budget submissions and provide guidance to the Arizona HIDTA staff. The Arizona HIDTA provides the coordination umbrella for all HIDTA initiatives and special projects.

The AHEC has funded 23 initiatives to execute the HIDTA strategy and meet the Performance Measures of Effectiveness/Government Performance Results Act targets and the ONDCP Developmental Standards. Each initiative is a multi-agency federal, state, and local effort. All initiatives are collocated and commingled except in two instances where a large, diverse, rural environment does not permit collocation.

The HIDTA counties each have one �centerpiece� initiative (task force) that serves that respective county with a collocated or collaborative multi-agency task force directed at major drug case development and drug smuggling. These �centerpiece� task forces are essentially multi-dimensional to meet HIDTA program guidance criteria. The remaining initiatives augment the primary task forces by providing specialized units to target money laundering, drug-related violence, corruption, fugitive apprehension, surveillance expertise, training, demand reduction, technical or intelligence support.

To accomplish these priorities, grant funding is administered to 23 initiatives. These joint federal, state, and local initiatives are organized seamlessly into counter-drug systems. Each system focuses on a counter- drug imperative. The systems are intelligence, interdiction, investigation, prosecution, demand reduction and support.

Investigative Support Center:

At the direction of the ONDCP, the Arizona HIDTA Executive Committee has implemented an interdiction, intelligence and investigative based HIDTA Center in Tucson, Arizona. The mission of the Center is two-fold: to provide a support environment for the collocation of vital federal, state, and local law enforcement resources involved in counter drug investigations, interdiction, and intelligence and; to provide investigation and interdiction intelligence systems and products that supports and enhances Arizona HIDTA drug task forces/initiatives capability to disrupt/dismantle drug trafficking organizations in support of the Arizona HIDTA Strategy. Participants include an Administration Support Group with 7 full-time members and an Intelligence Division with 40 full-time and 22 collocated members. The Administration Support Group is staffed by Pima County Sheriff's Department personnel and provides facility management and security services, information systems technical support, operates/maintains the event deconfliction system NINJAS, and conducts research and development for enhanced databases electronic connectivity and analytical support systems. The Intelligence Division is an Arizona Department of Public Safety led federal, state, and local initiative. The Intelligence Division provides all source intelligence, trend and pattern analysis, analytical case support, and case deconfliction support to the HIDTA initiatives and other appropriate users. To support these efforts, the Intelligence Division has access to over 36 databases. They use the Geographic Information System Arcview to provide predictive intelligence as well as graphically display drug, currency, weapons, and other seizure data. The ISC provides this graphic display through COBIJA WebShare to over 1,500 vetted users throughout the United States and Canada. Additionally, during '03 SIPRNET/ADNET connectivity was established and functioning as an information resource and secure e-mail resource. Collocated at the Arizona HIDTA Center are three other initiatives. Also co- housed are components of the Tucson Police Department Special Investigations Unit, the Border Patrol Prosecution Unit, a Deputy Pima County Attorney, and air assets of the Arizona DPS and Pima County Sheriff's Department.

Participating Agencies:

Federal: Drug Enforcement Administration, Federal Bureau of Investigation, Immigration and Naturalization Service, United States National Park Service, United States Forest Service, United States Border Patrol, United States Customs Service, United States Marshals Service, and United States Attorneys Office.

State/Local: Arizona Attorney General's Office, Arizona Department of Public Safety

Local: Benson Police Department, Bisbee Police Department, Cochise County Attorney's Office, Cochise County Sheriff's Department, Chandler Police Department, Casa Grande Police Department, Eloy Police Department, Glendale Police Department, Kearney Police Department, Maricopa County Sheriff's Department, Mesa Police Department, Mohave County Sheriff's Office, Nogales Police Department, Oro Valley Police Department, Peoria Police Department, Phoenix Police Department, Pima County Attorney's Office, Pima County Attorney's Office, Pima County Sheriff's Department, Pinal County Sheriff's Department, Santa Cruz County Attorney's Office, Santa Cruz County Sheriff's Department, Tucson Police Department, Wilcox Police Department, Youngtown Police Department, Yuma County Sheriff's Department, Yuma Police Department

Other: National Guard, Department of Defense JTF-6

Significant Achievements:

The Arizona HIDTA, working with the California Border Alliance Group, New Mexico HIDTA, South Texas HIDTA, Chicago HIDTA, Michigan HIDTA and others, has spearheaded a concept called Cobija (blanket in Spanish). Cobija is a coordinating mechanism that assists HIDTAs in facilitating federal, state, tribal, and local law enforcement coordinated/synchronized criminal interdiction operational planning, operations, information sharing and intelligence generation supporting interdiction, investigative, and intelligence agencies. There have been sixteen Cobija cycles since its inception in August 1998. Each cycle involves an operational planning conference (usually attended by 300 - 400 law enforcement representatives), an operational period, and lessons learned. Each phase is continually supported with intelligence.

Cobija involves representatives from Arizona, California, Texas, New Mexico, Colorado, Illinois, Michigan, Iowa, Idaho, Maine, South Carolina, Florida, Mississippi, Louisiana, Oregon, Utah, Wyoming, Ohio, Wisconsin, Missouri, Georgia, Kentucky, New York, Nevada, Kentucky, Ohio, New Jersey, Alabama, Washington, Arkansas, and Canada. Over 120 law enforcement agencies and task forces are participants.

Cobija supports the ONDCP strategic goals, General Counterdrug Intelligence Plan, DHS Arizona Border Control Initiative, and the President's drug reduction goals. Cobija works closely with the Counterdrug Executive Secretariat to further enhance federal, state, tribal, and local multi-agency coordination and information sharing.

The Department of Defense, Defense Systems Information Agency supports Cobija by providing, at no cost, a secure electronic tool via the Anti-Drug Network Unclassified system. This allows for secure dissemination of intelligence and operational information
to all vetted users of the system (over 1,500). Cobija WebShare hosts the interactive situational map Arcview that graphically displays drug and currency seizures, and other information. Over 30,000 drug seizure reports are submitted annually to the Arizona HIDTA Investigative Support Center from across the nation and Canada. These reports are made available to all WebShare users via the situation map.

The Arizona HIDTA, along with the CBAG and New Mexico HIDTA, are working with El Paso Intelligence Center to establish the connectivity model that will be format between EPIC and all HIDTAs. The Cobija process, with its ability to receive local and tribal seizure and incident reporting, is a major contributing factor to this effort.

The Cobija concept has been briefed to The Interdiction Committee in WA DC, Project Northstar, Canadian officials, the National HIDTA Conference, and dozens of other law enforcement, government, technology symposiums, and academia organizations.

The Arizona HIDTA, in conjunction with their partner HIDTAs, facilitates two/three Cobija cycles each calendar year. Cobija XVII will begin in February 2005.

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Last Updated: February 7, 2005