ROANOKE CO., Va. -

Roanoke County will receive federal help to fight drug trafficking.

Roanoke County has been designated as a High Intensity Drug Trafficking Area by the Office of National Drug Control Policy.

Dickenson County also received the HIDTA designation Thursday. Gil Kerlikowsk, director of the Office of National Drug Control Policy, says the designation allows the counties to receive federal resources to fight drug trafficking.

Roanoke County joins Arlington, Chesterfield, Fairfax, Loudon, Hanover, Henrico, Prince George, and Prince William counties, as well as the cities of Alexandria and Richmond, as part of the Washington/Baltimore HIDTA.

Rockingham County in North Carolina also received the same designation.

HIDTA was created in 1988. It is a “catalyst for coordination among federal, state, local, and tribal law enforcement agencies operating in areas determined to be critical drug trafficking regions of the United States.”

Here is the news release:

Today, Gil Kerlikowske, Director of the Office of National Drug Control Policy (ONDCP) announced the designation of Dickenson and Roanoke Counties in Virginia as High Intensity Drug Trafficking Areas (HIDTAs). The designations will enable the counties to receive Federal resources to further the coordination and development of drug control efforts among Federal, state, local, and tribal law enforcement officers in Virginia. The designations will also allow local agencies to benefit from ongoing HIDTA initiatives working to reduce drug use and its consequences across the United States. Dickerson County will join three other Virginia counties including Lee, Scott and Wise counties as part of the Appalachia HIDTA. Roanoke County will join other Virginia counties including Arlington, Chesterfield, Fairfax, Loudon, Hanover, Henrico, Prince George, and Prince William counties, as well as the City of Alexandria and the City of Richmond as part of the Washington/Baltimore HIDTA.

Created by Congress in 1988, the HIDTA program serves as a catalyst for coordination among Federal, state, local, and tribal law enforcement agencies operating in areas determined to be critical drug trafficking regions of the United States. Law enforcement organizations working within HIDTAs assess drug-trafficking problems and design specific initiatives to decrease the production, transportation, distribution, and, chronic use of drugs and money laundering. There are currently 28 HIDTAs located in 46 states, as well as in Puerto Rico, the U.S. Virgin Islands, and the District of Columbia.

“Drug trafficking and production place a tremendous burden on our communities,” said Kerlikowske. “As the Obama Administration continues to bolster drug prevention, access to treatment, and other evidence-based public health approaches to drug policy, today’s announcement demonstrates our continued commitment to expanding ‘smart on crime’ programs that protect communities from drug-related harm. By designating Dickerson and Roanoke Counties as HIDTAs, we will enhance the ability of Federal, state, and local authorities to coordinate drug enforcement operations, share intelligence, and adopt state-of-the-art technology to improve public health and safety in Virginia.”

In April, the Obama Administration released a science-based drug policy that addresses the national drug challenge as a public health issue, not just a criminal justice issue. The 2013 National Drug Control Strategy is built upon the latest scientific research demonstrating that addiction is a chronic disease of the brain that can be successfully prevented and treated, and from which one can recover. The Strategy directs Federal agencies to expand community-based efforts to prevent drug use before it begins, empower healthcare workers to intervene early at the first signs of a substance use disorder, expand access to treatment for those who need it, support the millions of Americans in recovery, and expand “smart on crime” approaches to drug enforcement.