Drug Trafficking in Florence and Horry Counties:
As of 21 November 2013 Florence County, South Carolina was named a High Intensity Drug Trafficking Area. “Gil Kerlikowske, Director of the Office of National Drug Control Policy (ONDCP) announced the designation of Florence County as a High Intensity Drug Trafficking Area (HIDTA).” (WBTW News Staff, 21, November, 2013) This is based around the location of Florence County is part of the reason that this location received the HIDTA designation. “"Because of the location of two major Interstate highways, Florence County is seen as a transportation route for drug trafficking and all the illegal activity that it brings with it," said Sheriff Kenney Boone.” (WBTW News Staff, 21, November, 2013) What all of these means for Florence County is that “This designation will allow Florence County Sheriff's Office to receive Federal resources to further the coordination and development of drug control efforts among Federal, State and local law enforcement officers in South Carolina and to allow local agencies to benefit from ongoing HIDTA initiatives working to reduce drug use and its consequences across the United States, officials say.” (WBTW News Staff, 21, November, 2013) This will make it easier for Florence County Sheriff’s Department to received federal funding to combat drug trafficking and drug violence and will also give the department access to federal law enforcement that will also assist with lowering drug related violence. “The HIDTA designation will only increase the already great working relationship we have with these other agencies and will allow us to better utilize federal resources and funding against the drug traffickers." (WBTW News Staff, 21, November, 2013) This designation as a HIDTA also has an impact on Horry County South Carolina “Because of this designation, Florence and Horry Counties will now join Richland and Lexington Counties as part of the Atlanta/Carolinas HIDTA.” (WBTW News Staff, 21, November, 2013)
The fact that Florence County has been designated a HIDTA by federal authorities will have an impact on Horry County. First Florence County is 71.5 miles from Horry County; this is within easy driving distance. Meaning that narcotics that are being trafficked into Florence County can easily find their way into Horry County and therefore increasing the rates of drug related crime in Myrtle Beach and surrounding areas. This is already being seen in the increased crime rates in Myrtle Beach in recent years. A review of Myrtle Beach crime rates can be found here:
The High Intensity Drug Trafficking Area (HDITA) Program was “The High Intensity Drug Trafficking Areas (HIDTA) program, created by Congress with the Anti-Drug Abuse Act of 1988, provides assistance to Federal, state, local, and tribal law enforcement agencies operating in areas determined to be critical drug-trafficking regions of the United States.” (High Intensity Drug Trafficking Areas (HIDTA) Program, n.d.).
The purpose of the program is to reduce drug trafficking and production in the United States by:
Facilitating cooperation among Federal, state, local, and tribal law enforcement agencies to share information and implement coordinated enforcement activities;
Enhancing law enforcement intelligence sharing among Federal, state, local, and tribal law enforcement agencies;
Providing reliable law enforcement intelligence to law enforcement agencies to facilitate the design of effective enforcement strategies and operations; and
Supporting coordinated law enforcement strategies that make the most of available resources to reduce the supply of illegal drugs in designated areas of the United States and in the Nation as a whole. (High Intensity Drug Trafficking Areas (HIDTA) Program, n.d.).
“There are currently 28 HIDTAs, which include approximately 16 percent of all counties in the United States and 60 percent of the U.S. population. HIDTA-designated counties are located in 46 states, as well as in Puerto Rico, the U.S. Virgin Islands, and the District of Columbia. At the local level, the HIDTAs are directed and guided by Executive Boards composed of an equal number of regional Federal and non-Federal (state, local, and tribal) law enforcement leaders.” (High Intensity Drug Trafficking Areas (HIDTA) Program, n.d.)
What all of this means for Horry County, and Myrtle Beach in specific, is that area law enforcement organizations will have greater accesses to federal law enforcement that can assist with an increase in drug trafficking. However, this assistance will only be useful if the local police departments become truthful on the nature of drugs and crime in the Horry County/Myrtle Beach areas. At this point local authorities are more concerned with how information related to crime will impact the tourism industry and has little concern about how inaction will have an impact on the year round residents of this area.
In the short term Horry County should expect to see a rise in drug trafficking and crime associated with drug trafficking, namely gang violence. This activity will be associated with an increase in street violence, gun violence and prostitution as methods to obtain the needed finances to pay for a drug habit. It also becomes possible that street gangs that have become involved in the commercial sex industry (prostitution through human trafficking) will begin to be a larger problem in this area (there will be in increase in trafficking victims throughout the county). Also there will become an increase in school violence across the county as street gangs increasingly move into the area and therefore into public schools.
A broader review of gang violence will follow this report.
High Intensity Drug Trafficking Areas (HIDTA) Program. (n.d.). The White House. Retrieved December 7, 2013, from http://www.whitehouse.gov/ondcp/high-intensity-drug-trafficking-areas-program
WBTW News Staff. (2013, November 21). DEA says Florence County is 'High Intensity Drug Trafficking Are - WBTW-TV: News, Weather, and Sports for Florence, SC. DEA says Florence County is 'High Intensity Drug Trafficking Are - WBTW-TV: News, Weather, and Sports for Florence, SC. Retrieved December 7, 2013, from http://www.wbtw.com/story/24035229/dea-says-florence-is