The Director, in consultation with the Attorney General, the Secretary of the Treasury, the Secretary of Homeland Security, heads of the National Drug Control Program agencies, and the Governor of each applicable State, may designate any specified area of the United States as a high intensity drug trafficking area.
The Director shall establish regulations under which a coalition of interested law enforcement agencies from an area may petition for designation as a high intensity drug trafficking area. Such regulations shall provide for a regular review by the Director of the petition, including a recommendation regarding the merit of the petition to the Director by a panel of qualified, independent experts.
To be eligible for funds appropriated under this section, each high intensity drug trafficking area shall be governed by an Executive Board. The Executive Board shall designate a chairman, vice chairman, and any other officers to the Executive Board that it determines are necessary.
None of the funds appropriated under this section may be expended for any high intensity drug trafficking area, or for a partnership or region of a high intensity drug trafficking area, if the Executive Board for such area, region, or partnership, does not apportion an equal number of votes between representatives of participating Federal agencies and representatives of participating State, local, and tribal agencies. Where it is impractical for an equal number of representatives of Federal agencies and State, local, and tribal agencies to attend a meeting of an Executive Board in person, the Executive Board may use a system of proxy votes or weighted votes to achieve the voting balance required by this paragraph.
The Director may authorize use of resources available for the Program to assist Federal, State, local, and tribal law enforcement agencies in investigations and activities related to terrorism and prevention of terrorism, especially but not exclusively with respect to such investigations and activities that are also related to drug trafficking.
Subject to the availability of appropriations, the Director may expend up to 10 percent of the amounts appropriated under this section on a discretionary basis, to respond to any emerging drug trafficking threat in an existing high intensity drug trafficking area, or to establish a new high intensity drug trafficking area or expand an existing high intensity drug trafficking area, in accordance with the criteria established under paragraph (2).
The Director, in consultation with the Attorney General, shall ensure that any drug enforcement intelligence obtained by the Intelligence Support Center for each high intensity drug trafficking area is shared, on a timely basis, with the drug intelligence fusion center operated by the Organized Crime Drug Enforcement Task Force of the Department of Justice.
The funds used under paragraph (1) shall be used to ensure the safety of neighborhoods and the protection of communities, including the prevention of the intimidation of witnesses of illegal drug distribution and related activities and the establishment of, or support for, programs that provide protection or assistance to witnesses in court proceedings.
The Director shall work with HIDTAs to develop and maintain best practice models to assist State, local, and Tribal governments in addressing witness safety, relocation, financial and housing assistance, or any other services related to witness protection or assistance in cases of illegal drug distribution and related activities. The Director shall ensure dissemination of the best practice models to each HIDTA.