Chester County District Attorney Tom Hogan has been named Chair of the region’s High Intensity Drug Trafficking Area (“HIDTA”) Program Executive Board. Gary Tuggle, Special Agent in Charge of the Drug Enforcement Administration – Philadelphia Division, has been named Vice Chair of HIDTA.
“It is an honor for the Chester County District Attorney’s Office to work with our colleagues on the HIDTA Program,” Hogan said in a statement, Thursday. “From dismantling violent drug trafficking organizations to combating the heroin and opioid epidemic, HIDTA has proven to be an effective tool in creating law enforcement collaboration across all levels. When we work together, the bad guys don’t stand a chance.“
Hogan has been praised for his aggressive fight against drug rings in Chester County.
“District Attorney Hogan brings both passion and leadership to our Executive Board, qualities never more needed than now, in the midst this region’s and the nation’s opioid crisis,”Jerry Daley, the Executive Director of the regional HIDTA Program, stated. “His experience as both an Assistant United States Attorney and county District Attorney is of great benefit to our efforts, as he has investigated and prosecuted cases in both the federal and state court systems. Tom is tremendously well-respected and highly regarded for his intellect and character by all of our board members and participating agencies.”
Hogan expressed strong support for his new Vice Chair.
“Gary Tuggle and DEA are outstanding partners in the HIDTA program,” Hogan said. “Gary is experienced, innovative, and possesses a tremendous energy and commitment to his job. DEA provides valuable assets every day, from street agents to intelligence support.”
The HIDTA Program is a collaborative team of federal, state, and local law enforcement agencies that coordinate efforts to attack drug issues across the region.
The agencies involved include: the FBI, DEA, and ATF; the Pennsylvania and New Jersey Attorney General’s Offices; the District Attorney’s Offices for Philadelphia, Delaware County, and Chester County; the Philadelphia, Camden County, and New Castle County Police Departments; the United States Attorney’s Offices in Pennsylvania, New Jersey, and Delaware; the Pennsylvania State Police and New Jersey State Police; and numerous other agencies. The HIDTA Strike Force in this region covers Philadelphia, Pennsylvania; Camden County, New Jersey; New Castle County and Wilmington, Delaware; and Chester and Delaware Counties, Pennsylvania.
There are 28 regional HIDTA programs across the United States. The program is funded by the Office of National Drug Control Policy.
The region’s HIDTA-funded initiatives have executed multiple significant operations in the past few years. Some of those law enforcement achievements are as follows:
- In 2015, Operation Telarafia (Operation Spiderweb) was named the national HIDTA investigation of the year. Operation Telarafia was a joint federal and local law enforcement initiative that dismantled a Mexican drug trafficking organization distributing bulk cocaine in southern Chester County, Philadelphia, and New Castle County. The organization had direct ties to Mexican cartels and had been in operation for over a decade. More than 40 defendants were arrested and convicted.
- The HIDTA Strike Force has helped lead the fight against the opioid and heroin epidemic by acting as a central clearinghouse for local and national intelligence about sources of supply, new drug analogs, distribution patterns, overdose data, and other vital information.
- In 2016, a HIDTA money laundering initiative led by Homeland Security Investigations – Philadelphia seized over 550 kilograms of cocaine and $5 million in drug proceeds from drug cartels operating in the Philadelphia region.
- A HIDTA gang task force led by the FBI dismantled two violent drug trafficking organizations in South Jersey who were distributing bulk heroin. In 2016, “Operation Killer Clown” investigated and prosecuted two gangs who were involved in multiple murders and armed robberies, in addition to distribution of large amounts of heroin.
- Between 2015 and 2016, the SHIELD Unit of the Pennsylvania State Police coordinated through HIDTA with DEA and multiple local police departments to conduct drug interdiction operations on the highways in the region. The SHIELD Unit operations resulted in the seizure of 52 kilograms of cocaine, 10 kilograms of heroin, over $1.1 million in drug proceeds, and 14 illegally possessed firearms.
These are only a few examples of the work being done by HIDTA in the tri state region. Other operations already are under way.
“Law enforcement in the Delaware Valley has excelled at coordinating resources and initiating innovative strategies to fight drug dealers,” Hogan said. “Through HIDTA, we will continue our efforts to protect the good citizens of Pennsylvania, New Jersey, and Delaware from those criminals who would do them harm.”