Federal government to assist Marion County in fight against drug trafficking

INDIANAPOLIS, Ind. – The feds and local authorities are about to get even tougher on drug trafficking in Marion County.

Thursday, Marion County Prosecutor Terry Curry’s office announced Marion County has been designated as a “High Intensity Drug Trafficking Area” also known as HIDTA, by The White House.

“This designation by the Office of National Drug Control Policy and additional federal support will expand our ability to conduct multi-agency, long-term investigations and prosecute cases aimed at dismantling these drug operations,” said Marion County Prosecutor Terry Curry. “We sincerely appreciate the support of U.S. Senator Joe Donnelly and assistance from IMPD, Marion County Sheriff’s Office, and other federal, state and local law enforcement partners in making this application successful.”

The only counties in Indiana with the designation right now are Lake and Porter counties near Chicago. Marion and LaPorte counties will be added to the existing Indiana network.

“In the last three to five years, we’ve certainly seen an explosion of addiction in central Indiana,” said Scott Watson, with Heartland Intervention.

The HIDTA designation for Marion County is the result of an application process, and the program will open up federal funds for the county.

“What the designation does is, it allows local police departments to apply for some monies, and that money can be used not only to fight crime but also for education and to expand treatment availability for those that really need it,” said Watson.

There are 28 specialized HIDTA areas in the United States, most fashioned around the biggest cities. Each area develops critical and region-specific intelligence and strategies to cut drug threats.

Among the qualities for selection, the area must be a “significant center of illegal drug production, manufacturing, importation or distribution,” also, “drug-related activities in the area are having a significant harmful impact in the area.”

IMPD statistics show at least 22 homicides this year occurred because of drugs.

Back in May, IMPD put narcotics teams in each district because of both officer and resident complaints about drugs.

A few weeks ago, IMPD Chief Troy Riggs talked to us about what they’ve seen so far.

“In just two and a half months of full operation with the narcotics team, they’ve taken $400,000 of illegal drug money off the streets, over 200 weapons, and they’ve made almost a thousand arrests.”

Though the announcement came on Thursday, Curry’s office and other officials did not want to publicly comment, saying a news conference will be held later in October to further detail the impact in Marion County.