May 18, 2022–8:31 a.m.
On April 26, 2022, a delegation of senior law enforcement officials traveled to El Paso, Texas, for two full days of training with law enforcement on the U.S. and Mexico border. The delegation included representatives from city, county, and state agencies in Georgia, North Carolina, and South Carolina. The trip was sponsored by Atlanta-Carolinas High-Intensity Drug Trafficking Area (AC-HIDTA).
The High-Intensity Drug Trafficking Area (HIDTA) is a grant program created by Congress in 1988 and administered by the Office of National Drug Control Policy. There are currently 33 HIDTA programs covering all 50 states that are directed and guided by executive boards of federal and state/local law enforcement leaders. The program sponsor for this trip, AC-HIDTA, is led by Executive Director Dan Salter, retired Special Agent in Charge of the Drug Enforcement Administration’s Atlanta Division. The 2022 Executive Board Chairman is Sandy Springs Police Department (GA) Chief Kenneth DeSimone. Part of the AC-HIDTA Program’s mission statement is to achieve measurable success in improving public safety and wellbeing by disrupting and dismantling drug trafficking and money laundering organizations through intelligence-driven multi-jurisdictional operations in Georgia and the Carolinas.
During the April trip, law enforcement executives met with their counterparts from West Texas and New Mexico HIDTAs, El Paso Police Department, El Paso County Sheriff’s Office, Texas Department of Public Safety (State Police), Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA), El Paso Intelligence Center (EPIC), and U.S. Customs and Border Protection Department of Homeland Security. AC-HIDTA members were able to see first-hand the overwhelming issues of illegal narcotics and human smuggling taking place on the New Mexico and Texas borders with Mexico.
Several law enforcement representatives reflected on this border experience with the following quotes:
“The recent trip to the Southwest border was eye-opening and explains why this country is in the throes of an opioid epidemic. Because an overwhelming supply of deadly, illegal drugs are crossing into our communities daily, we must secure our borders to protect American families.” Major Frank O’Neal, South Carolina State Law Enforcement Division (SLED)
“If we fail to secure our borders, every sheriff in America will become a border sheriff. What comes through the borders doesn’t stay there. It comes to all communities in America.” Sheriff Sam Page, Rockingham County Sheriff’s Office (NC)
“The time our group spent in El Paso, Texas, and at our Southern Border was invaluable. The insight gained from our men and women on the frontlines attempting to ensure our borders are safe was very eye-opening, to say the least. We were able to bring back numerous Law Enforcement intelligence resource information from our partners with HIDTA and the DEA to use in our organizations which will greatly assist us with the hard work it takes to continue to improve the Quality of Life for the communities we serve.” Chief Mark Mitchell, Johns Creek Police Department (GA)