November 24 2015



Can spirituality promote a healthier physical life for your family? Recent medical studies indicate that spiritual people are less prone to self-destructive behaviors (suicide, smoking, and drug and alcohol abuse, for example), and have less stress and a greater total life satisfaction.

Much of the research linking spiritual and physical health has involved elderly patients; however, the data offer a glimpse into a possible tie between a spiritual life and good health for people of all ages.

Although spirituality has been shown to reduce depression, improve blood pressure, and boost the immune system, religious beliefs should not interfere with the medical care kids receive.

So what exactly is spirituality and how can it enhance your family’s health?

Spirituality and Physical Health

Doctors and scientists once avoided the study of spirituality in connection to medicine, but more recent findings have made some take a second look. Studies show that religion and faith can help to promote good health and fight disease by:

offering additional social supports, such as religious outreach groupsimproving coping skills through prayer and a philosophy that all things have a purpose


Although research on kids hasn’t been done, many studies focusing on adults point to the positive effects of spirituality on medical outcome:

In a 7-year study of senior citizens, religious involvement was associated with less physical disability and less depression. Death rates were lower than expected before an important religious holiday, which suggested to researchers that faith might have postponed death in these cases.Elderly people who regularly attended religious services had healthier immune systems than those who didn’t. They were also more likely to have consistently lower blood pressure.

Patients undergoing open-heart surgery who received strength and comfort from their religion were three times more likely to survive than those who had no religious ties.


Spirituality and Mental Health

Religious and spiritual beliefs are an important part of how many people deal with life’s joys and hardships. Faith can give people a sense of purpose and guidelines for living.

When families face tough situations, including health problems, their religious beliefs and practices can help them fight feelings of helplessness, restore meaning and order to life situations, and help them regain a sense of control. For some families, spirituality can be a powerful and important source of strength.

Medical studies have confirmed that spirituality can have a profound effect on mental states. In a study of men who were hospitalized, nearly half rated religion as helpful in coping with their illness. A second study showed that the more religious patients were, the more quickly they recovered from some disorders. A third study revealed that high levels of hope and optimism, key factors in fighting depression, were found among those who strictly practiced their religion

Can Spiritual Beliefs Enhance Parenting?

Attending organized religious services may help some families connect with their spiritual values, but it’s not the only way. Less traditional paths also can help kids and parents find spiritual meaning.

To foster spirituality within your own family, you may want to examine your own values. Ask yourself: What is important to me? How well do my daily activities mirror my values? Do I neglect issues that matter to me because I’m busy spending time on things that matter less?

Here are other suggestions to start your family’s spiritual journey:


Explore your roots. In examining your shared past, you and your kids may connect with values of earlier times and places, and gain a sense of your extended family’s history and values.

Examine your involvement in the community. If you’re already involved in a group, maybe you will want to take on a larger role — first for you, then as a role model for your kids. If you haven’t joined a community group, consider investigating those in your area.

Recall the feelings you had at the birth or adoption of your child. Try to get back to that moment in your mind, remembering the hopes and dreams you had. It can be the start of a search for similar or related feelings in your everyday life.

Share some silence with your kids. Take a few minutes for silent meditation alone or together. Think about parenthood, your life as an individual, and your place in the larger scheme of things. Spend time discussing these thoughts with your kids and listen to their ideas on what spirituality means.

Take a nature walk. Nature has long been an inspiration and spiritual guide. A walk will relax you and allow you to contemplate the wonders of the world around you.

Read books that express spiritual ideas with your kids and share your thoughts about what you’re reading.


This search can be conducted on your own or as part of a larger group — a religious community, friends, or your own family. Making a spiritual journey might help you and your family live a healthier life, both emotionally and physically.

Reviewed by: Steven Dowshen, MD
Date reviewed: August 2014

Kids Health by Nemours


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November 14 2015


Parents talking to teens

Talking With Teens

Tips for Better Communication

 Parents and teens can bridge the communication gap with a little patience and a healthy measure of


Here are 6 tips for parents and 6 for teenagers.

A parent’s view of speech development: it begins in infancy, blossoms in childhood, and stops dead in its tracks at adolescence.

A teenager’s view of speech development: “My parents don’t understand a word I’m saying.”

You don’t need a degree in communications to know that parents and teenagers seem to spend more time talking at and past one another than to or with one another. Chalk it up to different agendas, the stress of daily life, or familiarity breeding contempt. Whatever the reason, adolescents and their folks are as good at making conversation as the construction crew at the Tower of Babel.

But with a little give and take, a lot of patience, and a healthy measure of R-E-S-P-E-C-T, parents and teens may be able to remove the roadblocks hindering two-way communication.

To help understand talking with teens, WebMD interviewed two experts in adolescent development: Laurence Steinberg, PhD, Distinguished University Professor and Laura H. Carnell Professor of Psychology at Temple University in Philadelphia; and Carol Maxym, PhD, who counsels families in Honolulu and Washington, D.C.

First, says Steinberg, parents need to recognize that “although your child doesn’t have the same level of knowledge, information, wisdom or experience as you do, he or she has essentially the same logical tools and can see through logical fallacies and lapses in what’s sensible.”

In other words, the “do-it-because-I-said-so” approach to talking with teens doesn’t work anymore. “They can’t be bullied around by power-assertive statements by parents that aren’t based on any kind of logical reality,” Steinberg says.

Teenagers have exquisitely sensitive B.S. detectors, agrees Maxym, who counsels families of troubled adolescents in private practice. “Parents need to be emotionally authentic. Don’t try to act as though you are angry when you’re really not. Don’t try to tell your child ‘I’m really hurt when you don’t go to school,’ when what you really are is angry. Kids know their parents really well and pick up on it, and as soon as you as a parent become inauthentic, you’ve lost any chance of real communication,” says Maxym.

Research also shows that “the big barrier is in how parents and teenagers define issues,” If the parent sees a teen’s messy room as a moral issue, and the teen sees it as a matter of choice, they may never reach a mutually satisfactory solution, says Steinberg.

What can you do to communicate better? Our experts offer these tips both parents and teenagers:

For Parents


Don’t lecture your teen, have a conversation. When parents complain “my teenager doesn’t want to talk to me,” what they’re really complaining about is “my teenager doesn’t want to listen to me.” Conversation involves at least two people, Steinberg emphasizes.


Don’t attack. “The conversation between any two people will break down if one of the two is put on the defensive and made to feel he’s being accused of something,” says Steinberg.

Show respect for your teen’s opinions. Teenagers can be surprisingly easy to talk with if the parents make it clear that they’re listening to the teen’s point of view.

Keep it short and simple. Maxym urges parents to remember what she calls the “50% rule”: “Almost every parent says at least 50% more than he or she should. Shut up. Remember when you were a teen and your parents lectured at you? And you thought, ‘Will you please stop; I already got the point!’ Stop before your teen gets there.”

Be yourself. Don’t try to talk like your kids or their friends. “You’re an adult, so be an adult,” Maxym says.

Seize the moment. A spontaneous conversation in the car or at home late at night — any time when you’re not rushed — can make for some of the warmest, most rewarding moments, Steinberg says. “I think for parents, one of the key parts of having good communication with kids is being around enough to capitalize on these moments that invariably don’t come up when you expect them to.”

For Teenagers:

Try to understand the situation from your parents’ point of view. If your goal is to be allowed to stay out later on Saturday night, for example, try to anticipate what they are concerned about, such as your safety and your whereabouts.Address their concerns honestly and directly. Try saying something like, “If I am allowed to stay out later, I will tell you in advance where I’m going to be so you know how to reach me,” or “I’ll call you to let you know what time I’m going to be home, and that way you won’t have to worry about it.”

Don’t go on the defensive. If you feel deeply about the subject of the conversation — clothes, friends, politics, sex, drugs, whatever — stick to your guns, but listen to what your parents have to say.

Don’t criticize or ridicule their viewpoints. Show them and their opinions the respect you want them to give you.

Make requests. Don’t issue a list of demands.

Make “I” statements. Explain your concerns by saying things such as “I feel you’re not being fair.” Or, “I feel like you’re not listening to my side.” Avoid “you” statements, such as “You don’t know what you’re talking about.”


By Neil Osterweil
WebMD Feature
Reviewed by Charlotte E. Grayson Mathis, MD


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November 11 2015


glowing kids

For My Older Children



While many people accept that the whole family is impacted when a young adult struggles with drug or alcohol addiction, most of the resources available are geared towards parents. There is very little discussion about the effect of addiction on siblings, even though they are part of the family system, often know more about the extent of the problem than their parents and often struggle emotionally brothers and sisters of addicts have a range of reactions; three common styles of managing the anxiety associated with this issue are listed below:

Separate: Some siblings withdraw completely when a brother or sister develops a pattern of addictive behaviors for a variety of reasons For example; they may not be able to cope with the turmoil in their sibling’s life or may experience guilt that they don’t have the same genetic predisposition. Siblings may not understand what the addict is facing, or they may want to avoid having to examine their own relationships with substances. This group of siblings avoids talking about the issue, ignores calls or overtures from the addict, and may even remain distant from the whole family system to reduce the chances of being forced to address the topic. One brother described the impact of his sibling’s addiction as having taken all of the “air in the room,” leaving no space for him to talk about his own life challenges. He indicated that this feeling had caused him to avoid any family situations where he suspected the addict would be there and/or the topic of conversation.

Save: Other siblings rush into the problem, convinced they can save their brother or sister from themselves. They try to help the addict with behavior ranging from finding treatment resources to giving the addict money, food, or a place to stay. They often become a support to parents, particularly during a crisis, and may even put themselves in peril by rescuing their sibling unsafe situations. They feel immense sadness and compassion towards their addict sibling, and frequently deny or ignore their sibling’s destructive behaviors (i.e. lying, stealing, manipulation). This group of siblings may temporarily get frustrated with the addict, but their grudges are short-lived, and after a brief period of time, often return to rescuing the addict.

Struggle: The final group includes siblings who struggle with the addict’s behaviors. They express frustration that the addict “can’t get it together” or “just stop using”. They confront their siblings, often using emotional pleas. A common example is “Don’t you see what you are doing to mom?” or “You are destroying our family.” They may not accept that addiction is a disease, but instead view their sibling’s actions as selfish or immoral. At times, they may get angry if someone tries to defend the addict or rescue him or her. Even if a sibling decides to get help, they may even struggle to accept their sibling’s commitment to sobriety.

Siblings can often feel caught in the middle, between the addict and their parents. They play a variety of roles, often vacillating between more than one style listed above. If you are a sibling of an addict, please recognize that this affects you too, and make sure to find your own sources of support. Ala-non, a family program offered across the country ( or a professional counselor may help you find some peace during turbulent times.

January 21, 2014 | Arden O’Connor | Arden O’Connor graduated from Harvard College and started a non-profit called Rediscovery Inc., dedicated to serving adolescents transitioning out of the foster care system (

Your Father & I are so proud of each one of you.

As I read, about siblings of the addicted. I have come to an understanding, that this has not only, effected our Family. You have had the responsibility of dealing with this issue. And I am sure that, there are still feelings that you have inside.

I know that it was hard.

Having to move away from all of you has made it sad for me and Daddy. We are such a close family. You are missed everyday. When I speak with you, I am also Hugging you.

Our conversations always were about, your Brother. You were all so concerned, extremely worried and struggled with his problem. But all of you handled yourselves with dignity.

For that we are very proud! You are so important in our lives. All of you took part in helping your, Brother. I believe, your conversations on the phone. While he was in Rehab, gave him the authority to fight with all of his being, to win this battle. Your words were imbedded in his mind.

“Go the distance Brother, you can do it!”

He takes such pride in knowing that you are by his side. Your lives have been full of up’s and downs. There were times when you also made mistakes. But we all came together to figure it out.

Each and every one of you have the focus to go after your dreams and fulfill your future. Now your Brother, is right beside you.

Working hard on his future, while thanking,

“The Good Lord for making it all possible.”

As a little boy you taught him so many things. He would look at you. Listen to you and learn. When he fell you picked him up. If he cried you made him feel better. And when he was in trouble he ran to every one of you first. Before coming to Me & Daddy. The Love that all of you have for one and other is so heart warming to me. “As your Mother, I am truly Blessed and so Content, knowing that right now. At this time all of you are focused on the same goal.

“Having a happy productive life.

And Living, Life to the Fullest.”

I am so delighted that all of you found perfect partners. I am a very lucky Mother In-law. They are all family orientated. Each one having a great family, that all believes as we do. Family is everything, it is Home. The love that has been shared with each of them is truly a Blessing. Their compassion and understanding has, shown me that, they are all special people. I am so Proud to call them, “My Children.” They stood by each one of you. Showing me their concern. They were always positive about your Brother. Telling us that he was going to make it. Made us feel the same way.

I remember an occasion, when we came to N.Y. to visit. Your Brother, was with us. He was in Rehab at this time, all of you welcomed him with open arms. I could see in his eyes that he was frightened of how you would all greet him. And then when you all held out your arms and welcomed him with laughter and hugs. It truly made a big difference, in his life. He was home with you again. Feelings that he missed, for such a long time were rekindled. The feeling of acceptance, put him right where he was supposed to be.

With his Brother and Sister’s and their Spouses. Together Again. I know he longed for this reunion.

All of you made it so special for, Your Brother.

He works hard everyday on his Recovery. He is extremely focused and making plans for his future.

All of you have taken part in each others lives. Making a real difference, needing one and other.

Your Father & I are so proud of all of you.

                   Remember I Love All of You, More Than All The Stars In The



                                                                                                        Mom              stars2


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November 6 2015

Law Enforcement Fighting The Battle Against “DRUGS”!


police men

Let’s be proud, they are protecting us in so many ways!

South Florida HIDTA – National Criminal Justice Reference Service

Mission Statement: The mission of the South Florida HIDTA is to measurably reduce drug trafficking, related money laundering, violent crime and drug abuse in South Florida, thereby reducing the impact of illicit drugs in other areas of the country.

Threat Abstract:

The South Florida HIDTA was one of the five original HIDTAs designated in 1990. South Florida is a major international transportation nexus, accounting for 40% of the nation’s trade with Central America, 35% with the Caribbean and 17% with South America. The extensive shoreline of the Florida peninsula and the Florida Keys, combined with 2 major seaports and a close proximity to the Caribbean basin, make South Florida a prime target for maritime smuggling operations, particularly from Haiti. There has also been a dramatic increase in drug seizures on cruise ships using the ports in Miami and Ft. Lauderdale. Miami International Airport (MIA) is the busiest airport in the United States for international cargo and the second busiest for international passenger traffic. MIA is used extensively as an entry point for narcotics in bulk shipments.

Though use of cocaine and its more potent derivative, crack, remain the primary illicit narcotic of choice. The use of heroin and the so-called “designer drugs” such as MDMA (Ecstasy) is rising dramatically. Columbia is the primary source of heroin, with Miami as the primary point of entry into the United States. Suppliers will front kilos of heroin and are using their extensive cocaine distribution network for heroin distribution. Because of oversupply, the price of heroin has dropped precipitously and average street-level purity in South Florida has reached 80%. Miami is now considered a “high-demand” destination for designer drugs and is a transshipment point between the suppliers in Europe and organizations in South America. Marijuana remains readily available in South Florida. The increasing role of small grow operations and indoor hydroponics operations is adding to the drug’s supply.

Primary money laundering methods include the black market peso exchange, wire transfers to U.S. bank accounts, and bulk smuggling of cash. Structuring of cash (smurfing) via automated teller machines and mortgage flipping are increasingly used. Miami is ranked third, behind New York and Los Angeles, in the number of Suspicious Activity Reports filed by financial institutions. The pervasive illicit narcotics atmosphere has manifested itself in an increase in drug-related violent crimes, while the rates for crime in general have fallen. Drug related violence among Haitian traffickers including armed home invasions, car jackings, gang warfare and homicides, has increased.

These factors combine to make South Florida a transportation and financial center vulnerable for exploitation by criminal organizations. South Florida remains as a significant command and control center for international narcotics trafficking organizations; is an international hub for drug traffickers and money launderers from Central America, South America, and the Caribbean; and has been identified as having the country’s second largest concentration of Russian and Eurasian immigrants and proportionate career criminals and organized crime.

Strategy Abstract:

An Executive Committee comprised of 18 federal, state, and local law enforcement agency heads oversees the South Florida HIDTA. The same Executive Committee evaluates each initiative on a quarterly basis to ensure that fiscal and operational goals and objectives are being met and that the initiative is complying with ONDCP regulations. The South Florida HIDTA Director, Timothy D. Wagner, reports to the Executive Committee but has autonomy over most administrative issues and in ensuring the coordination between the various entities that comprise HIDTA. The Director has instituted a review process which continually analyzes all aspects of budgeting, interagency coordination, and intelligence sharing to respond to changing conditions and needs in a timely manner.

Hundreds of representatives from 62 federal, state, and local agencies are full-time participants in 23 HIDTA initiatives. These initiatives include: eight collocated multi-agency task forces, six containing an array of enforcement programs; one cooperative federal and city drug enforcement task group; one cooperative state and local street enforcement and intelligence initiative targeting known street drug sales areas; two initiatives focusing on criminally active street gangs; one separate county and municipal agencies task force focusing on the apprehension of violent fugitives; one regional intelligence center; a new interagency intelligence-focused maritime working group; a multi-agency, multi-site community empowerment program; an automated drug treatment and judicial access information management system for judges to instantaneously retrieve offender information from multiple information sources.

Investigative Support Center:

The South Florida HIDTA Intelligence Center (formerly the South Florida Investigative Support Center) – a state and local-led collocated center of federal, state and local agencies to facilitate the attack and the dismantling of high-value drug trafficking and related money laundering and violent crime organizations working in and through the South Florida HIDTA region. It actively collects, analyzes and disseminates information to support enforcement initiatives. The composition, scope and dynamics of criminal organizations are made available to law enforcement in support of regional goals and objectives. The SFISC provides records checks from law enforcement and proprietary databases. It also provides asset tracking of criminal organizations and activities on an as-needed basis. It provides case support and ongoing training to all law enforcement agencies. The SFISC maintains a deconfliction clearinghouse and automated NINJAS (Narcotics Information Network Joint Agency System) for reporting field enforcement actions regarding drugs, weapons, money and warrants for investigator safety. It houses the FBI Regional Intelligence Squad (RIC) and Joint Drug Intelligence Group (JDIG), as well as the Blue Lightning Operation Center (BLOC) and Joint Task Force Six and Florida National Guard analysts. The SFISC coordinates with the Florida Intelligence Center (FIC), the El Paso Intelligence Center (EPIC) and the National Drug Intelligence Center (NDIC).

Initiatives that were approved as part of the 2000 South Florida HIDTA Strategy:

North Broward Drug Enforcement Unit

A locally-led, collocated multi-agency task force dedicated to the dismantling or disruption of the most significant illegal narcotics trafficking and money laundering organizations and armed groups involved in the drug trade. This task force also participates in programs designed to reduce local drug dealing, the use of drugs and the need to depend on illegal drug sales as a means of support.

Southeast Florida Regional Task Force

A federally led, multi-agency drug crimes task force with twenty participating Federal, State and Local agencies. The task force is responsible for conducting multi-agency drug investigations targeting high-level drug trafficking organizations, utilizing the resources of the law enforcement agencies in Southeast Florida by pooling intelligence information and then mounting coordinated, focused investigations to identify and dismantle drug trafficking organizations. It also strives to identify, investigate and destroy local drug trafficking groups, primarily crack cocaine organizations, thereby decreasing drug-related violence in the local community.

South Broward Drug Enforcement Unit—A locally led, collocated multi-agency task force that pursues, disrupts and dismantles narcotics trafficking and related money laundering and violent crime organizations. The strategy is to identify, investigate, arrest and prosecute narcotics traffickers and their organizations. It targets individuals, groups, cells, and pipelines used to conduct money laundering activities orchestrated by the cocaine cartels of Medellin and Cali, Colombia. It also houses a South Florida Organized Fraud Task Force, the Russian/Eurasian Crime Task Force, and the new initiative Transportation Conspiracy Unit.

Russian/Eurasian Crime Task Force

This is collocated multi-agency task force. The two enforcement groups of FY00, Odessa, which was made up of federal, county and city investigators complemented by the National Guard, DOD and city analysts and ROC, the FBI’s Russian Organized Crime squad, have merged and the single group is led by the FBI. The task force continues to target those individuals and criminal organizations whose operations directly or indirectly affect South Florida and other areas of the United States, investigating a broad range of violations including drug trafficking and related crimes, money laundering, counterfeiting, violent crime, weapons, fraud and other crimes related to drug trafficking.

Miami HIDTA Task Force

This is South Florida’s largest law enforcement task force. It occupies three buildings and serves as an umbrella for six federally-coordinated enforcement efforts.. Approximately 276 full-time people from 29 agencies are devoted exclusively to the enforcement areas of narcotics smuggling, trafficking, and related money laundering investigations which primarily target Colombian cartels and other major international criminal organizations and systems. The recently created anti-narcotics smuggling task force addresses the growing problem of cocaine and heroin smuggling through Miami’s ports and the corruption of transportation industry employees, particularly at Miami International Airport.

There are 6 federal prosecutors and 3 legal secretaries assigned full time, as well as a 7-person, full-service language support center. The task force is supported by a staff of 22 analysts, including 1 full-time person from FinCEN (Financial Crimes Enforcement Network), a multi-agency technical support unit coordinated by the US Customs Service, and a systems administration support unit for computer system design, installation, maintenance and custom software development. A full-time forensic specialist, a graphics specialist, and a Florida National Guard supply/logistics unit provide support on site for all agencies.

Transportation Conspiracy Unit

A federally-led, collocated multi-agency task force with Customs, DEA and five police departments targeting narcotics smuggling and money laundering. The primary focus is internal conspiracies at Fort Lauderdale International airport, but the initiative will target the use of all types of common carriers.

Monroe HIDTA Task Force

A locally-led, collocated federal, state and local task force that initiates and shares in investigations aimed at narcotics traffickers (including “mothership” operations) and money launderers. The strategy is to develop complex, long term financial and smuggling investigations to dismantle smuggling systems and identify, investigate, indict, convict and seize the assets of offenders who have profited from illicit activities. Because of the significant mothership activity being seen in Southeast Florida and the Caribbean, this task force has maintained a close working relationship with the US Coast Guard’s Maritime Intelligence Center (MIC) for interdiction investigations .

South Florida Impact/Fincrest

A locally-led, collocated multi-agency task force that combines federal, state and local investigations in support of the HIDTA mission. The strategy is to attack and reduce the number of high value narco-trafficking and related money laundering individuals, organizations and systems. The task force is targeting highly significant money laundering systems employed by Colombian black-market money brokers. It also attacks the illegal transportation of drug proceeds in and out of the US. The component of this task force known as “FINCREST,” consists of federal and municipal law enforcement agencies and constitutes a specialized financial investigations unit focusing on the follow-up of Suspicious Activity Reports (SARs) generated by local banks and other financial institutions. FINCREST serves as a clearinghouse to evaluate all SARs generated in South Florida; to identify those that justify the initiation of a criminal investigation; and to coordinate with other enforcement groups investigating SARs to deconflict cases and minimize the unknowing overlap of investigations. The focus of this task force is long term investigations to trace the money back to the source and justify federal prosecution and the seizure of illicit drug proceeds.

Violent Crimes/Fugitive Task Force

A federally-led, collocated multi-agency task force designed to significantly reduce the at-large population of high-impact, violent and drug trafficking fugitives. Priority is given to cases involving fugitives associated with violent drug cartels and organizations, to include Colombian and Jamaican-based trafficking organizations.

Cali Cartel Enforcement Group

A collocated, multi-agency group that emphasizes intelligence, surveillance, and electronic intercepts against Cali Cartel and related drug trafficking organizations in South Florida.

Gang Strike Force

A state prosecutor-coordinated, collocated multi-agency task force of state, local and federal investigators. It uses long-term, racketeering-style gang investigations to destroy South Florida’s most criminally active street gangs through prosecution and imprisonment of gang leaders and members. This initiative is being greatly enhanced through the incorporation of a new unit, the “Caribbean Basin Violent Crimes Enforcement Group,” targeting violent gangs of Caribbean Basin heritage.

Street Gang and Criminal Organization Task Force

A collocated, multi-agency task force that focuses on violent domestic street gangs through the use of racketeering style prosecutions with a focus on Broward County.

La Cosa Nostra

A collocated, multi-agency task force that targets five New York City area La Cosa Nostra families involved in drug trafficking (particularly heroin) in the South Florida area.

Operation No Fear

A coalition of federal, state and local law enforcement agencies that conduct two enforcement campaigns each month to target locations known for visible drug sales, crime and violence related to the drug trade.

Fugitive Apprehension Strike Team (FAST)

A federally-led, collocated task force with state/local participation, 20-member, 5-agency group known as FAST (Fugitive Apprehension Strike Team) that locates and apprehends major narcotics trafficking, money laundering and violent fugitives, especially those classified as career criminals.

Street Terror Offender Program (STOP)

This federally-led, collocated multi-agency enforcement group is devoted to the identification of South Florida’s most violent and prolific drug-involved organizations and individuals. In addition to full-time participation by ATF, MDPD, FDLE and USCG, 4 part-time county Homicide Unit investigators are involved. It also incorporates a focused effort to identify and prosecute criminal aliens involved in drugs and violence.

Operation Top Heavy

A locally-led, collocated multi-agency task force with multiple federal agencies participating with the Broward Sheriff’s Office targeting smuggling organizations within Port Everglades . The focus will be on large international conspiracies utilizing corrupt longshoremen to further narcotics smuggling.

Public Corruption Task Force

A federally-led collocated task force focusing on corruption of public officials primarily in furtherance of narcotics trafficking conspiracies.

Key West Task Force

A federally-led task force consisting of federal and local agency personnel targeting mid- level drug trafficking organizations smuggling narcotics into Key West via cruise ships.

Rapid Deployment Operation

Located at the South Florida Investigative Support Center, the Blue Lightening Operation Center (BLOC) acts as the command and control facility for dissemination of intelligence, targeting information, and case analysis for the rapid deployment operations conducted by the Blue Lightening Strike Force. The strike force of over 40 federal, state, and local agencies draws from a resource of over 1,000 police officers, who are cross designated with U.S. Customs border search authority, to support drug interdiction missions off the Florida coast. The U.S. Coast Guard provides 24-hour watch and tactical/analytical support to operations through their Maritime Intelligence Center.

South Florida HIDTA Joint Training Initiative

Housed at the South Florida Investigative Support Center, this initiative identifies training needs that are not being met by existing resources but essential to the success of the South Florida law enforcement counterdrug, money laundering and violent crime operations. Emphasis is placed on investigative, analytical and computer skills.

Community Empowerment Crime and Drug Demand Reduction Program

The Crime and Drug Demand Reduction Program (CDDRP) targets high-risk communities having expected levels of crime, victimization, substance abuse, unemployment and violence. The fundamental strategy is to identify criminally-active individuals and groups who tear down the fabric of the community and target them for arrest and prosecution. Resources are then brought into the community to promote employment, education, youth leadership and community involvement to harden the community against the return of drugs, crime and violence. Because of the dramatic increase in violent crime among juveniles in this country, this program has a prevention focus to target the 13 to 17 year-old age group and their families. It reduced part one crimes by an average of 23%; reduced truancy, and reduced community factors that perpetuate a “drug climate”. It prepared a successful grant with Youth Co-op and obtained over 100 part or full-time jobs for youth in CDDRP sites. Part of the summer job program requirement is for the involved youth to identify the most pressing needs of their community that they can affect. They are then to develop and implement corrective action strategies in cooperation with community members and law enforcement. In FY01, the program will continue to focus on only five communities with efforts ranging from focused enforcement to the development of leadership, coalitions, self-determination and self-sufficiency.

Drug Treatment Program

Assists with the evaluation, placement, and treatment of criminal justice system-involved substance abusers with providing connectivity between treatment providers in the region with ‘TARS’ (Treatment Automated Referral System). TARS tracks the intake, placement, treatment, case management and outcome of individuals in need of substance abuse treatment. It also automates billing for services and reporting to federal and state funding sources. This program led to the development of the ‘JAMS’ (Judicial Access Management System)- an automated system for drug court judges to retrieve treatment and criminal justice system information related to offenders. We are continuing the transition from 100% HIDTA funding of the TARS and JAMS programs to alternate sources. Our Executive Committee has established 50% of the FY99 funding level as a maximum level of support for FY01. In FY00, funding was at 75% of the FY99 funding level.


Through constant budget analysis and cost savings measures, the South Florida HIDTA has been able to add three new task forces while maintaining a static budget for three years. Two of the new initiatives concentrate on stemming an endemic and pervasive narcotics trafficking problem at seaports in South Florida, while the other task force focuses on public corruption with a narcotics nexus. Major inroads have been made at Miami International Airport with a major task force investigation disabling “internal smuggling conspiracies” through arrest of over seventy persons employed by airlines or related service industries. Further cost savings measures will enable the South Florida HIDTA to initiate a task force focused on a growing designer drug problem in Miami Dade County and Miami Beach.

The South Florida Investigative Support Center, now called the South Florida HIDTA Intelligence Center (SFLHIC), is undergoing a complete “reinvention” to enhance effectiveness and bring South Florida HIDTA into better compliance with the guidelines set forth in the General Counter-Drug Intelligence Plan (GCIP). Intensive strategic planning has set a clear direction for the SFLHIC to better coordinate the intelligence gathering and dissemination within the South Florida HIDTA and to other HIDTA’s with common interests to South Florida.

Participating Agencies:

Federal: Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms, Drug Enforcement Administration, Federal Aviation Administration, Federal Bureau of Investigation, Financial Crimes Enforcement Network, Immigration and Naturalization Service, Internal Revenue Service, National Parks Service, United States Attorney’s Office, United States Border Patrol, United States Coast Guard, United States Customs Service, United States Department of State, United States Marshal Service, United States Postal Service, United States Probation Office, United States Secret Service, Department of Defense JIATF-E, and Department of Defense Joint Task Force Six


Florida Department of Banking and Finance, Florida Department of Law Enforcement, Florida Department of Revenue, Florida Highway Patrol, Florida Marine Patrol, Florida National Guard

Local: Aventura Police Department, Bal Harbour Police Department, Broward County Sheriff’s Office, Coconut Creek Police Department, Cooper City Police Department, Coral Gables Police Department, Coral Springs Police Department, Dade State Attorney’s Office, Davie Police Department, Delray Beach Police Department, Florida City Police Department, Fort Lauderdale Police Department, Hallandale Police Department, Hialeah Police Department, Hollywood Police Department, Homestead Police Department, Indian Creek Police Department, Key West Police Department, Lauderhill Police Department, Lighthouse Police Department, Margate Police Department, Miami Dade Police Department, Miami Police Department, Miami Beach Police Department, Miami Springs Police Department, Miramar Police Department, Monroe County Sheriff’s Office, North Lauderdale Police Department, North Lauderhill Police Department, North Miami Beach Police Department, Oakland Park Police Department, Palm Beach Sheriff’s Office, Pembroke Pines Police Department, Plantation Police Department, Pompano Beach Police Department, Sunrise Police Department, Wilton Manors Police Department

Information is provided by the South Florida HIDTA.


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November 3 2015


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Talking To Your Children About


Just as you protect your kids against illnesses like measles, you can help “immunize” them against drug use by giving them the facts before they’re in a risky situation.

When kids don’t feel comfortable talking to parents, they’ll seek answers elsewhere, even if their sources are unreliable. And kids who aren’t properly informed are at greater risk of engaging in unsafe behaviors and experimenting with drugs.

Parents who are educated about the effects of drug use and learn the facts can give their kids correct information and clear up any misconceptions. You’re a role models for your kids, and your views on alcohol, tobacco, and drugs can strongly influence how they think about them. So make talking about drugs a part of your general health and safety conversations.

Preschool to Age 7

Before you get nervous about talking to young kids, take heart. You’ve probably already laid the groundwork for a discussion. For instance, whenever you give a fever medicine or an antibiotic to your child, you can discuss why and when these medicines should be given. This is also a time when your child is likely to pay attention to your behavior and guidance.

Take advantage of “teachable moments” now. If you see a character in a movie or on TV with a cigarette, talk about smoking, nicotine addiction, and what smoking does to a person’s body. This can lead into a discussion about other drugs and how they could cause harm.

Keep the tone of these discussions calm and use terms that your child can understand. Be specific about the effects of the drugs: how they make a person feel, the risk of overdose, and the other long-term damage they can cause. To give your kids these facts, you might have to do a little research.

Ages 8 to 12

As your kids grow older, you can begin talks with them by asking them what they think about drugs. By asking the questions in a nonjudgmental, open-ended way, you’re more likely to get an honest response.

Remember to show your kids that you’re listening and really paying attention to their concerns and questions.

Kids this age usually are still willing to talk openly to their parents about touchy subjects. Starting a dialogue now helps keep the door open as kids get older and are less inclined to share their thoughts and feelings.

Even if your questions don’t immediately result in a discussion, you’ll get your kids thinking about the issue. Show them that you’re willing to discuss the topic and hear what they have to say. Then, they might be more willing to come to you for help in the future.

News, such as steroid use in professional sports, can be springboards for casual conversations about current events. Use these discussions to give your kids information about the risks of drugs.

Ages 13 to 17

Kids this age are likely to know other kids who use alcohol or drugs, and to have friends who drive. Many are still willing to express their thoughts or concerns with parents about it. They may ask you more specific questions about drugs.

Use these conversations not only to understand your child’s thoughts and feelings, but also to talk about the dangers of driving under the influence of drugs or alcohol. Talk about the legal issues — jail time and fines — and the possibility that they or someone else might be killed or seriously injured.

Consider making a written or verbal contract on the rules about going out or using the car. You can promise to pick your kids up at any time (even 2 a.m.!), no questions asked, if they call you when the person responsible for driving has been drinking or using drugs.

The contract also can detail other situations: For example, if you find out that someone drank or used drugs in your car while your son or daughter was behind the wheel, you may want to suspend driving privileges for 6 months. By discussing all of this with your kids from the start, you eliminate surprises and make your expectations clear.

Laying Good Groundwork

No parent, child, or family is immune to the effects of drugs. Any kid can end up in trouble, even those who have made an effort to avoid it and even when they have been given the proper guidance from their parents.

However, certain groups of kids may be more likely to use drugs than others. Kids who have friends who use drugs are likely to try drugs themselves. Those feeling socially isolated for whatever reason may turn to drugs.

So it’s important to know your child’s friends — and their parents. Be involved in your children’s lives. If your child’s school runs an anti-drug program, get involved. You might learn something! Pay attention to how your kids are feeling and let them know that you’re available and willing to listen in a nonjudgmental way. Recognize when your kids are going through difficult times so that you can provide the support they need or seek additional care if it’s needed.

Role-playing can help your child develop strategies to turn down drugs if they are offered. Act out possible scenarios they may encounter. Helping them construct phrases and responses to say no prepares them to know how to respond before they are even in that situation.

A warm, open family environment — where kids can talk about their feelings, where their achievements are praised, and where their self-esteem is boosted — encourages kids to come forward with their questions and concerns. When censored in their own homes, kids go elsewhere to find support and answers to their most important questions.

Make talking and having conversations with your kids a regular part of your day. Finding time to do things you enjoy together as a family helps everyone stay connected and maintain open communication.

If you are looking for more resources for yourself or your child, be sure to also talk to your doctor.

Reviewed by: Rupal Christine Gupta, MD
Date reviewed: November 2014

Note: All information on KidsHealth® is for educational purposes only. For specific medical advice, diagnoses, and treatment, consult your doctor.

© 1995-2015 The Nemours Foundation. All rights reserved.


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