Due to El Paso's proximity to the Mexican Border, several drug trafficking organizations are attempting to set up "stash houses" in the city and the surrounding area to store large quantities of illegal drugs. The drugs are temporarily stored at these stash houses for the purpose of repackaging and to facilitate methodical distribution to other cities throughout the United States.
In response to the stash house problem, the El Paso Police Department has joined forces with other law enforcement agencies through the High Intensity Drug Trafficking area (HIDTA). HIDTA is an important component of the President's National Drug Control Strategy program. It enhances and coordinates drug control efforts among local, state, and Federal law enforcement agencies. The program provides agencies with a coordination structure, equipment, technology, and additional resources. This allows each of the 28 HIDTA regions to work within a structure of partnership and collaboration to combat regional drug threats.
The West Texas HIDTA region is comprised of local, state, and Federal law enforcement agencies whose leaders work together to assess regional drug threats, design strategies to combat the threats, and develop initiatives to implement the strategies.
One of the West Texas HIDTA strategies includes building collocated, multi-agency drug task forces and initiatives. Collocation and multi-jurisdictional task forces are fundamental program standards that promote achievement of strong levels of coordination and partnership building. These standards provide valuable opportunities for the participating agencies to combine their wide range of knowledge, skills, jurisdictional powers and resources to target illicit drug organizations and drug-related crime, as well as to share information and resources, develop lasting teamwork, and even conduct cross training. The strategies are developed based on the identified regional drug trafficking threat.
The threat posed by stash house operators is not just a problem for the El Paso area. It has broad implications nationally and effects every community in the country. The West Texas HIDTA Stash House Initiative provides funding for salaries, overtime, travel, training and equipment for a multi-agency task force dedicated to combating the drug dealers engaged in this activity. Since it's inception the task force has seized over 78,880 pounds of marijuana, 5,166 pounds of cocaine and 1,345,180 in U.S. currency. The unit has also made over 291 arrests for narcotics related offenses.