Collier County is getting some big help from the federal government in the fight against illegal drugs. The county is now designated as a High Intensity Drug Trafficking Area, or HIDTA.
"It's a lot of support," said Capt. Tom Storrar of the Collier County Sheriff's Office. "It basically relieves the pressure on our local budget."
Storrar said that investigating drug crimes is a complex and often time-consuming operation, as well as huge drain on manpower.
"Being a HIDTA-recognized county, I can call on other agencies now that can contribute manpower, and the federal government picks up the tab for that," Storrar said.
He said that intelligence from Central and South America indicates massive amounts of cocaine production, which could be headed to the U.S. - and Collier County is close to prime drop-off points.
""We abut Monroe, Dade and Broward Counties," Storrar said. "Those are hubs of drug trafficking areas."
A major bust in September 2015, which netted the arrests of 18 suspected traffickers and $120,000 of heroin, was one of Collier County's biggest-ever drug investigations.
Storrar, who has been investigating drug crimes for decades, said that heroin use is on the rise, so the county needs the federal aid through HIDTA now more than ever.
"The heroin we see out there today is much more potent than the heroin we saw back in the '70s," he said.