Roanoke considered part of "High Intensity Drug Trafficking Area" by multi-state task force

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RICHMOND (WSLS 10) - Roanoke is considered by a multi-state task force to be one of several High Intensity Drug Trafficking Areas (HIDTA). On Tuesday, Commonwealth Attorney General Mark Herring announced Virginia joined the Northeast and Mid-Atlantic Heroin Task Force to combat the growing drug crisis in the state.

The task force includes seven states: New York, Pennsylvania, New Jersey, Massachusetts, Maryland, Maine and now Virginia. Herring said joining the task force would help law enforcement better share information and leverage previously unavailable resources. Herring added traffickers spread the drug along the east coast and battling the problem requires a multi-state effort.

Herring said Virginia's geographic location and makeup of large cities, ports, and high volume highways and transportation hubs make it vulnerable to drug trafficking activities. There are several designated as HIDTA in Virginia including areas in Northern Virginia, Hampton Roads, Roanoke and Southwest Virginia.

Herring added many drug operations use multi-state trafficking routes, including the Outten Organization in Hampton Roads, a sophisticated heroin operation that trafficked and dealt 165 pounds of heroin with a street value worth up to $3.75 million dollars. The group was also responsible for at least 5 heroin overdoses in the Hampton Roads area. Search warrants were successfully executed with law enforcement from federal, local, state partners, and with law enforcement officers from other states, which served as a testament to implementing a collaborative approach. The group was ultimately prosecuted for its crimes.