The High Intensity Drug Trafficking Areas (HIDTA) program was established in 1990, though it was authorized in 1988 as part of a Congressional Act. The 1988 act is called the “Anti-Drug Abuse Act of 1988” and established the Office of National Drug Control Policy (ONDCP). Popularly known as the “Drug Czar,” the ONDCP is charged with streamlining the anti-drug policies of the federal government’s executive branch as well as the efforts of local anti-drug agencies.
The High Intensity Drug Trafficking Areas program is one of several programs overseen by the ONDCP. “High Intensity Drug Trafficking Area” may refer to the program itself or the location where the program is enforced. There are 28 offices throughout the US, operating with a budget of $250 million.
The idea behind both the 1988 Congressional act as well as the 1990 HIDTA program is that, by appropriating more financial resources and manpower (including DEA agents), efforts between the federal and local authorities can be combined to more effectively combat drug manufacturing, sale, and use in these high-risk areas. Such concerted efforts are meant specifically to provide more intelligence regarding drug use to the authorities at all levels. Many of the 28 HIDTA locations are located near the US borders, with five consolidated under unit at the US-Mexico border.