Play 4: Reduce the supply of opioids from illegitimate sources

Summary
Since most heroin and fentanyl originate outside the U.S., current counter-narcotics programming consists largely of federally driven efforts. This play suggests extending those efforts to the state and local levels by, for example: detecting and disrupting distribution channels for illicit drugs through local or online means; working with the DOJ Opioid Fraud and Abuse Detection Unit to prosecute corrupt or criminally negligent doctors, pharmacies and distributors; and strengthening criminal penalties for dealers of synthetic opioids like fentanyl.

One way to intensify such interdiction activities is through High Intensity Drug Trafficking Area (HIDTA) task forces. HIDTA, created by the Anti-Drug Abuse Act of 1988, provides assistance to federal, state, local and tribal lawenforcement agencies operating in areas determined to be critical U.S. drug-trafficking regions. There are currently 28 HIDTAs, encompassing about 18 percent of U.S. counties and 66 percent of our population.

Example: Ohio has funded numerous task forces that have been found highly effective in interdicting drug crimes.
Information is available in the state’s most-recent annual report.

Goals and Objectives
Drug task forces seek to identify and destroy distribution networks and their operations in specific jurisdictions. The objectives are to disrupt drug sales in all sectors, arrest and prosecute the sales and delivery forces, and otherwise upset the distribution process.

Theory of Change
By reducing the availability of illicit drugs, the task force will prevent the incidence of some substance use disorders and thereby decrease the number of people affected. It is far easier to articulate this theory than it is to measure the complex relationship between involved organizations and environmental values. A study published in Ireland in February 2017 proposes a performance measurement approach based on this theory of change.