When the War on Drugs began, America made big shifts in the law enforcement budget. Despite some small movement away from this “war,” overall these priorities haven’t changed.
That’s unfortunate, because all told the county has spent over a trillion dollars fighting the drug war. Every year, the federal government puts over $15 billion towards these efforts.
One of the most effective tactics implemented by the federal government has been the creation of grants for law enforcement officials who would commit to fighting drug crime in the streets and making a high number of drug arrests. The most well-known of these grants include Bryne Grants and the HIDTA program (which stands for High Intensity Drug Trafficking Areas).
HIDTA has been in place throughout the country for decades, but it hasn’t come to Minnesota until now. Because of this, the War on Drugs in Minnesota is most likely about to get a lot more intense.
HIDTA’s History and Minnesota’s Future
HIDTA was established in 1988, and through 750 initiatives it has removed over 3,000 drug trafficking organizations off the streets.
Wisconsin began implementing HIDTA initiatives in 2009. In 2012, it received $5.3 million in federal funding to fight drug crimes. Wisconsin credits HIDTA for funding “historically large” seizures of heroin in the state.
But HIDTA’s goals in Minnesota will focus not only on busting heroin and opioid trafficking, but also the movement of other drugs, including marijuana, ecstasy, and khat.
One of Minnesota’s notorious routes for drug trafficking is Interstate 94. In Hennepin County’s application for HIDTA funding, I-94 was labeled as a “drug threat.” After all, it connects groups in Chicago and Minneapolis through Milwaukee.
In 2015, over 1,500 narcotics incidents were reported in Hennepin County. This makes up approximately half of all narcotics incidents throughout the entire state of Minnesota.
When HIDTA initiatives come to our state, I-35 and I-94 will be big targets, but not the only one. Funding will be provided to those working throughout Hennepin, Ramsey, Dakota, Anoka, and Washington counties.
What This Means for Drug Crime Rates
Minnesota HIDTA program will not work alone. The federal funding brings in collaboration with groups like Bloomington, airport police, the State Patrol, the DEA, and the FBI.
With these big organizations, along with millions of dollars in funding and resources, police will have more power than ever to crack down on drug trafficking crimes throughout the state. More funding means more arrests, period.
Beyond this, it means the expectation of more arrests. Law enforcement officers may find themselves under more pressure to find and charge people, and because of this they could become overzealous, willing to take shortcuts they normally wouldn’t.
Since HIDTA is a federal program that is concentrating on drug routes between Minnesota, Wisconsin, and beyond, these arrests may send defendants to federal court. Anyone who is charged with federal drug trafficking will have to defend against evidence collected by the above organizations, and a conviction will result in mandatory prison time based on the amount of drugs that are found at the scene of the arrest.
If you are charged with a drug crime, you need to start working immediately to protect your rights and defend your future. Your best chance at a positive outcome is to reach out to a skilled Minnesota drug crimes attorney with a track record of success handling these types of cases.
About the Author:
Christopher Keyser is a Minneapolis-based criminal and DWI defense attorney known for fighting aggressively for his clients and utilizing innovative tactics to get the most positive results. He has been featured in numerous media outlets due to the breadth and depth of his knowledge, and recognized as a Minnesota Super Lawyers Rising Star (2014–2016), a Top 100 Trial Lawyer (2013–2016), and a Top 40 Under 40 Attorney (2013–2016).