Memphis’s Shelby County, a crossroads for drug dealers in the United States since at least the 1930s, was designated yesterday as part of a federal High Intensity Drug Trafficking Area, tying the county into a formal network aimed at curtailing the flow of illegal drugs nationally, reports the Memphis Commercial Appeal. The Office of National Drug Control Policy said 8 other counties wre added to HIDTA areas: Navajo County, Az., Jefferson County, N.Y., and Mecklenburg, Gaston, Union, Buncombe, Henderson, and McDowell Counties in North Carolina.
Shelby County, Tn., gets $172,000 in funding the first year with guaranteed funding at the same level the next year. Sheriff Mark Luttrell said the bulk of drugs involved in the group’s interdiction efforts are marijuana, cocaine, and pharmaceutical drugs. They help fill local jails and prisons with inmates who often have drug charges as their primary reason for incarceration or drug use as a contributing factor. “The vast majority of the people we have (in jails) have some drug connection, whether in drug trafficking or with drugs involved in another form of criminal behavior,” he said. “So much of the revenue we see in gangs is connected to drugs. There are domestic-abuse issues related to drugs, aggravated assaults. There’s a very strong connection.”