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Washington/Baltimore HIDTA

General Information:
  Year of Designation:  1994
  Geographic Area of Responsibility:
    Maryland:

Baltimore City and Baltimore, Anne Arundel, Howard Montgomery, Prince George's and Charles Counties

    Washington, D.C.
    Virginia:

City of Alexandria, Loudoun, Prince William, Arlington and Fairfax Counties

Mission Statement:

The mission of the Washington/Baltimore HIDTA is to improve interagency collaboration, promote the sharing of accurate and timely information and intelligence, and provide specialized training and other resources to W/B HIDTA participating law enforcement and treatment/ criminal justice agencies that will enhance their ability to provide superior services and meet their operational objectives. Through its state-of-the-art Intelligence Center, its highly trained and skilled professional staff will enhance and help to coordinate drug control efforts throughout the W/B HIDTA region and, when practical, in other areas of the country with the aim of bringing about measurable reductions in drug availability, drug trafficking, drug use and the social public health, public safety and financial consequences associated with illicit drugs.

Threat Abstract:

Illegal drugs remain widely available at relatively stable prices throughout the W/B HIDTA region. Drug use patterns within the HIDTA region vary considerably by geographic area.

In the Baltimore metropolitan area, heroin remains the drug of choice, although there are signs that cocaine distribution and use may be challenging heroin's traditional dominance. Baltimore-area law enforcement officials are also concerned about the growing use of illegally diverted pharmaceuticals (primarily painkillers) and have expressed concern that Baltimore may be emerging as a source area for diverted OxyContin.

In Southern Maryland, cocaine and marijuana are the primary drugs of abuse. Violence among the many drug trafficking organizations and gangs distributing drugs in this area continues to pose a serious challenge to law enforcement.

Cocaine is the predominant drug of abuse in Washington, DC but heroin distribution has expanded considerably over the past year. PCP and LSD are seen as emerging threats in this area; while overall use of these drugs is relatively small compared to cocaine, there is some evidence to indicate that distribution of PCP and LSD is expanding.

In Northern Virginia, cocaine and marijuana are considered the primary drug treats facing the area. Distribution of heroin, diverted pharmaceuticals, MDMA and “club drugs” pose smaller but growing threats. While overall use of methamphetamine remains low, Virginia law enforcement officials have expressed concern regarding the growing availability of methamphetamine in surrounding states.

In 2003, law enforcement sources identified 141 drug trafficking organizations operating in the W/B HIDTA region. A number of factors (such as growth in money laundering activity and an increasing number of DTOs that distribute two or more drugs) suggest that these organizations are becoming more sophisticated than in years past.

Gang activity (and the violence that often accompanies it) is a growing concern throughout the region. The Baltimore Police Department has identified 242 distinct gangs operating in the city; 95 percent of these gangs are involved in drug distribution. The emergence of Mara Salvatucha (MS-13) as a leading gang in the HIDTA region has generated considerable concern in law enforcement circles, especially in Northern Virginia and Southern Maryland.

Drug transportation and distribution are also region-wide concerns. Most of the drugs entering the HIDTA region are transported in privately-owned vehicles traveling on Interstate 95 and the HIDTA region's extensive highway system. Traffickers also use parcel delivery services, the US mails, and couriers traveling on public transportation systems to import substantial quantities or drugs.

Strategy Abstract:

The W/B HIDTA is committed to bringing together Federal, state and local agencies in an equal cooperative partnership and actively promotes intelligence sharing and coordinated drug enforcement, treatment and prevention efforts.

Its Executive Board plays a central role in shaping the HIDTA's strategy, formulating its budget, overseeing threat assessment and performance management efforts and, through its active committee system, guiding the efforts of the HIDTA's numerous initiatives. The Board has incorporated homeland security priorities into the HIDTA's ongoing efforts and is actively seeking to expand its intelligence resources.

The majority of the W/B HIDTA's law enforcement initiatives focus on investigating and dismantling drug trafficking organizations. Other initiatives attack drug trafficking through investigation of drug-related violent crime, firearms trafficking, money laundering operations and drug movement and distribution. The HIDTA's prosecution initiatives advise other law enforcement initiatives and focus on building strong cases against the leadership of drug trafficking organizations operation in the HIDTA region.

The HIDTA's Treatment/Criminal Justice initiatives focus on reducing crime by implementing a coerced treatment model for drug-addicted repeat offenders. By emphasizing the creation of a seamless treatment and supervision system, demanding accountability on the part of offenders and ensuring strict supervision and drug testing, these initiatives can dramatically reduce recidivism among addicted offenders.

Prevention initiatives funded by the W/B HIDTA focus on at-risk youth with the goals of preventing illegal drug use and promoting positive involvement with their families, schools and communities. Each prevention initiative is run by a coalition of law enforcement officials, local agencies, school system personnel and community organizations and is evaluated annually to ensure that they are meeting local needs effectively.

The efforts of all of these initiatives are supported by the HIDTA's training and administrative support initiatives. These initiatives provide training courses, financial management services, IT support, administrative oversight and logistical support to enhance the efficiency and effectiveness of the W/B HIDTA.

Investigative Support Center:

The HIDTA's intelligence initiatives are continuing to expand intelligence services and enhance intelligence sharing among the region's law enforcement and criminal justice agencies. At the W/B HIDTA, the ISC is comprised of two initiatives, the Intelligence Center Initiative and the Investigative Intelligence Unit. The HIDTA's overall intelligence effort is coordinated by the Intelligence Center Program Manager, who works closely with the Executive Board and the Director to ensure that the ISC's services meet current demands and continue to evolve as new threats emerge.

The Intelligence Center Initiative consists of four subunits: the Watch Center, Case Development Unit, Futures Unit and Evaluation and Crime Mapping Unit. The Watch Center serves as a central hub for law enforcement information sharing in the Washington/Baltimore region, providing case/subject deconfliction services (through the Case Explorer system), one-stop access to a wide variety of law enforcement databases, and a region-wide event deconfliction service.

The Case Development Unit assists investigative initiatives and participating agencies in identifying previously undetected drug traffickers and provides case development and support services to help investigators build larger, more significant cases. This unit's analysts also offer post-seizure analysis and document exploitation services.

To assist the region's law enforcement agencies in staying abreast of new developments in drug trafficking and substance abuse, the Futures Unit focuses on monitoring new and emerging trends and developing predictive intelligence products. In addition to producing a steady flow of intelligence bulletins and special reports on new or emerging threats, the unit's analysts also conduct longer-term research on threats of special concern in the region (such as gang activity).

Through its mapping efforts and geo-targeting studies, the Evaluation and Crime Mapping Unit helps HIDTA initiatives and participating agencies plan more effective enforcement operations and evaluate the effects of their work. In addition to its work with law enforcement agencies, the unit has also assisted numerous criminal justice and treatment agencies in developing maps to support service planning and evaluation efforts. The Evaluation and Crime Mapping Unit staff has also played an important role in the development and implementation of the HIDTA's new performance measurement process.

The Investigative Intelligence Unit concentrates on providing support for complex, long-term conspiracy cases and Title III intercepts. Its analysts make use of the latest analytical software and intelligence techniques to assist agencies in confronting the drug treats posed by the increasingly complex and sophisticated DTOs operating in the HIDTA region. This initiative is also expanding its efforts to support initiatives and participating agencies pursuing cases in northern Virginia.

Participating Agencies:

LAW ENFORCEMENT

FEDERAL: Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco & Firearms Explosives, Drug Enforcement Administration, Federal Bureau of Investigation, Internal Revenue Service, Bureau of Immigration and Customs Enforcement, United States Marshals Service, United States Park Police, United States Postal Service, United States Coast Guard, United States Attorney - Eastern District of Virginia, United States Attorney - District of Columbia, United States Attorney - District of Maryland

STATE & LOCAL: Alexandria Police Department, Annapolis Police Department, Arlington County Commonwealth Attorney, Anne Arundel County Police Department, Arlington County Police Department, Baltimore City Housing Authority Police Department, Baltimore Police Department, Baltimore County Police Department, Calvert County Sheriff's Office, Charles County Sheriff's Office, District of Columbia National Guard, Fairfax County Police Department, Fauquier County Sheriff's Office, Greenbelt Police Department, Harford County Sheriff's Office. Loudoun County Sheriff's Office, Maryland State Police, Maryland National Capital Park Police/PG County Div., Maryland National Capital Park Police/Montgomery County Div., Maryland National Guard, Maryland Natural Resources Police Department, Maryland Transit Administration Police Department, Maryland Transportation Authority Police Department, Metropolitan Washington Airport Authority, Metropolitan Transit Authority, Metropolitan Police Department, Montgomery County Police Department, Prince George's County Police Department, Prince William County Police Department, State's Attorney's Office – Baltimore, University of Maryland Police, Vienna Police Department, Virginia State Police, Virginia National Guard

TREATMENT / CRIMINAL JUSTICE

Arlington County: Virginia Department of Mental Health; Substance Abuse and Mental Retardation; Arlington County Detention Center; Arlington County Substance Abuse Services; Virginia Department of Corrections / Alexandria City: Virginia Department of Mental Health, Substance Abuse, and Mental Retardation; Alexandria Community Service Board; Virginia Department of Corrections; Virginia Department of Probation and Parole; Center for Substance Abuse Treatment; Alexandria City Circuit Court / Baltimore City: Alcohol and Drug Abuse Administration; Maryland Department of Public Safety and Correctional Services- Division of Parole and Probation / Baltimore County: Alcohol and Drug Abuse Administration; Maryland Department of Public Safety and Correctional Services; Baltimore County Department of Health, Bureau of Substance Abuse; Baltimore County Bureau of Corrections / Charles County: Alcohol and Drug Abuse Administration; Maryland Department of Public Safety and Correctional Services; Charles County Health Department; Charles County Detention Center; Charles County offices of the MD Department of Parole and Probation / Washington DC: Addiction Prevention and Recovery Administration; Administrative Office of the US Courts/Federal Corrections and Supervision Division; Washington, DC Superior Court; Center for Substance Abuse Treatment of the U S Department of Health and Human Services; Correctional Program Office of the U S Department of Justice; Superior Court of Washington DC; US Pretrial Services / Fairfax County: Virginia Department of Mental Health, Substance Abuse, and Mental Retardation; Fairfax County Community Service Board; Virginia Department of Corrections; Community Services Board (Fairfax, VA); Virginia Department of Probation and Parole; Center for Substance Abuse Treatment of the U S Department of Health and Human Services; Correctional Program Office of the U S Department of Justice; US Pretrial Services / Howard County: Alcohol and Drug Abuse Administration; Maryland Department of Public Safety and Correctional Services; Howard County Health Department; Alcohol and Drug Abuse Administration: Ellicott City, Waldorf, Howard County Health Department; Center for Substance Abuse Treatment of the US Department of Health and Human Services; Correctional Program, Office of the US Department of Justice; Maryland Department of Public Safety and Correctional Services; Circuit Court of Maryland; District Court of Maryland; US Pretrial Services / Loudoun County: Virginia Department of Mental Health, Substance Abuse, and Mental Retardation; Loudoun County Mental Health Services; Loudoun County Mental Health Center,; Mental Health and Substance Abuse Services; Center for Substance Abuse Treatment of the US Department of Health and Human Services; Correctional Program Office of the US Department of Justice; Maryland Department of Public Safety and Correctional Services; Circuit Court of Maryland; District Court of Maryland; Superior Court of Washington D .C.; U S Pretrial Services / Montgomery County: Alcohol and Drug Abuse Administration; Maryland Department of Public Safety and Correctional Services; Montgomery County Government; Federal Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration "Treatment for Homeless" Grant; Mental Health and Substance Abuse Services (Rockville, MD); Center for Substance Abuse Treatment of the US Department of Health and Human Services; Correctional Program Office of the U S Department of Justice; Circuit Court of Maryland; District Court of Maryland; Montgomery County Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation / Prince George's County: Alcohol and Drug Abuse Administration; Maryland Department of Public Safety and Correctional Services; Prince George's County Government Division of Addictions (Largo, MD); Prince George's County Department of Corrections; Center for Substance Abuse Treatment of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services; Correctional Program Office of the U.S. Department of Justice; Circuit Court of Maryland; District Court of Maryland / Prince William County: Virginia Department of Mental Health, Mental Retardation, and Substance Abuse; Prince William County Community Services Board; Virginia Department of Corrections; Virginia Department of Mental Health, Mental Retardation, and Substance Abuse; Prince William County Community Services Board; Virginia Department of Corrections

PREVENTION

Baltimore City, Maryland: Baltimore Police Department; Mayor's Office of Neighborhoods; Baltimore Community Affairs Unit; C-Safe; Strategic Neighborhood Action Plan (SNAP); Healthy Neighborhoods Initiative; Community Relations Officers in each Police District in Baltimore; Regional Auto Theft Task Force; Environmental Crimes Unit; Baltimore City Fire Department, Arson Task Force; Community Policing Youth Violence Program; The Baltimore Urban Lighting Board; The Baltimore Prostitution Task Force; Office of the State's Attorney for Baltimore City; Code Enforcement Unit, Department of Housing & Community Development; Police Explorers; Police Athletic League (PAL) / Montgomery County, Maryland: Department of Health & Human Services; Montgomery County Police Department; Montgomery County Public Schools; Maryland National Capitol Park & Planning Commission; YMCA Silver Spring Youth Services; Equity Management; Commonwealth Foundation; United Way; Impact Silver Spring; Montgomery County Department of Recreation; Southern Management; Carroll Avenue Quebec Terrace Community Center; After School Activities Project (ASAP) / Prince William County, Virginia: Prince William County Police Department; 31st District Juvenile Court Service Unit; Prince William County Interfaith Caregivers; Osbourne High School; Manassas City Police Department; Manassas Park Police; Juvenile Court Services; FAST; Metz High School; Manassas Detention Center; Prince William County Community Services Board; Manassas City School Board; Prince William School Board; Department of Social Services; Johnson Learning Center; Prince William county Juvenile Detention Home; Manassas City Family Assessment Team; Metz Middle School; Georgetown

Significant Achievements:

Over the past several years, the Washington/ Baltimore HIDTA region has seen an increase in the diversion and abuse of prescription painkillers (especially in the Baltimore metropolitan area). A recent case, in which the HIDTA's Intelligence Center played a central role, illustrates how solid intelligence and investigative efforts can be used to counter the growing threat of pharmaceutical diversion.

The investigation began in May 2003 when the Cecil County Drug Task Force (composed of investigators from the Maryland State Police and Cecil County, Maryland Sheriff's Office) executed several search warrants against a suspected OxyContin distributor. In spite of careful planning and the cooperation of an informant involved in supplying the distributors with OxyContin through “doctor shopping”, the task force was only able to charge one suspect with a minor drug possession offense. Due to the task force's heavy workload, investigators were forced to close the case without further investigation.

Convinced that there was more to their OxyContin distribution case, several task force officers contacted the W/B HIDTA's Intelligence Center. Although Cecil County is not designated as part of the HIDTA, its drug task force has established a strong working relationship with a number of the HIDTA's Maryland-based initiatives. As analysts from the Intelligence Center's Case Development Unit began examining the non-drug evidence collected during the execution of the Cecil County Drug Task Force's search warrants, they quickly discovered that the task force investigators were right about their case. Using document exploitation techniques, subpoenas and telephone toll analysis, the Case Development Unit's analysts quickly identified other members of the original target's family who were involved in OxyContin distribution and began tracing its suppliers and customers. As new information came in, analysts were able to trace the organization's distribution activities throughout Maryland, Virginia, West Virginia, Pennsylvania, Delaware, North Carolina and Tennessee.

As the case grew, the Case Development Unit and the Cecil County Drug Task Force enlisted the help of DEA's Diversion Control Program. As the Case Development Unit identified doctors and pharmacies used by the organization's “doctor shoppers” to obtain OxyContin, DEA personnel used their regulatory and inspection authorities to gather additional evidence and encourage doctors and pharmacists to provide investigators with additional information on their targets' activities. DEA and ATFE agents helped to coordinate investigation of distribution activities outside of Maryland.

The investigation culminated in the spring of 2004 with the arrest of all of the suspects involved in the distribution operation and several members of two other families who supplied them with OxyContin through “doctor shopping” and prescription fraud.

All of the suspects are scheduled to stand trial in September of 2004 on Federal narcotics and conspiracy charges. Since their initial arrest, two of these suspects have been rearrested for attempting to intimidate witnesses and a prosecutor involved in this case; a third suspects has be rearrested for a parole violation. This case is an outstanding example of how intelligence analysis and interagency cooperation can be used to build a successful case from what at first appeared to be a minor drug case.

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Last Updated: February 7, 2005