Between 2003 and 2007, Montrose Saw 137 Percent Surge in Felony Drug Court Cases While Delta Cases Increased by 97 Percent
HIDTA Designation Would Provide More Resources, Better Training and Enhanced Collaboration for Local Law Enforcement to Combat Drug Trade
As Western Slope law enforcement officials face mounting challenges in their effort to combat the drug trade, Michael Bennet, U.S. Senator for Colorado, today pushed to secure a High Intensity Drug Trafficking Area (HIDTA) designation for Delta and Montrose Counties that would bring critical resources, better training and enhanced collaboration for local law enforcement.
In a letter to the Rocky Mountain High Intensity Drug Trafficking Area Board's Director, Douglas Gorman, Bennet cited the rapid rise in felony drug court cases, inherent challenges facing area law enforcement agents, and the strong support among city, county, state and federal officials as reasons to extend HIDTA designation to Delta and Montrose Counties.
Earlier this year, Bennet met with officials from Delta and Montrose Counties to better understand the challenges local law enforcement faces in combating the drug trade.
"Law enforcement officials in Delta and Montrose Counties have done a tremendous job fighting the drug trade in their communities despite a serious lack of manpower and resources to do so," said Bennet. "We need to continue those efforts and provide rural law enforcement agencies with the tools they need to keep our kids and our communities safe from the harms of the drug trade. The training provided by HIDTA is a tremendous opportunity for continuing to enhance the efforts of rural law enforcement agencies."
Bennet continued, "HIDTA designation won't come easy - it will be an uphill effort. But I'm committed to doing everything I can to ensure these brave officers have the resources they need to get the job done."
Bennet's letter to Rocky Mountain HIDTA Board Director Douglas Gorman is attached, and the full text is included below.
Thomas J. Gorman, Director
Office of National Drug Control Policy
10200 East Girard Avenue
Building C, Suite 444
Denver, CO 80231
Dear Mr. Gorman,
I urge the Rocky Mountain High Intensity Drug Trafficking Area Board to support Delta and Montrose Counties' application to acquire High Intensity Drug Trafficking Area (HIDTA) designation.
Delta and Montrose Counties present challenging problems for drug enforcement including: large geographical coverage areas, rural farming and ranching communities, limited manpower for law enforcement agencies and significant increases in Drug Trafficking Organizations (DTO) operating in the two counties.
The need for HIDTA designation and associated training and funding is urgent and well documented. Between 2003 and 2007, Montrose County felony drug court cases increased 137 percent and Delta County felony drug court cases increased 97 percent. Recent arrests of 16 people in Delta, Montrose and San Miguel Counties associated with the La Familia DTO; and seizure of over 12 pounds of methamphetamine, 22 pounds of cocaine and numerous firearms indicate the disturbing scale of DTO operations in these counties.
There is support for HIDTA designation for Montrose and Delta Counties among city, county, State and Federal law enforcement agencies and elected officials. The various levels of drug law enforcement agencies collaborate well together, bolstering the prospects of success for a HIDA designation. If approved, HIDTA designation for Delta and Montrose Counties will assist in providing successful investigations and prosecutions of mid to upper level drug trafficking organizations; thus reducing the harmful effects of drug trafficking and drug use on these rural communities.
Thank you for your assistance and consideration. I appreciate your keeping my office informed of any developments with this proposal.
United States Senator