DEA Highlights 2021
As 2021 comes to an end, the Drug Enforcement Administration reflects on a year that brought a heightened sense of service, resolve, and dedication to our mission to keep Americans safe and healthy. We experienced challenges, sought opportunities, and accomplished objectives.
The U.S. overdose epidemic reached an unprecedented level; the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reported more than 100,000 drug-related deaths during its last 12-month reporting period for the year. A majority of those deaths involved a synthetic opioid, primarily illicit fentanyl.
The alarming increase in the availability and lethality of fake prescription pills also contributed to these tragic deaths. DEA seized more than 20 million fake prescription pills in 2021, which is more than we seized the previous two years combined. We also seized record amounts of fentanyl powder. In fact, with our law enforcement partners, the amount of fentanyl we seized would kill every American.
In September, DEA issued its first public safety alert in more than six years to bring awareness to the accessibility and availability of these fake prescription pills containing fentanyl and methamphetamine, simultaneously launching the One Pill Can Kill Public Awareness Campaign to highlight the dangers of these fake pills. DEA also took extra steps to warn the public about a widespread, phone scam in which criminals impersonate DEA agents in an attempt to extort money from Americans.
Providing education and awareness is the cornerstone of our outreach efforts and mission to protect the communities we serve. That’s why DEA launched Operation Engage, a new comprehensive law enforcement and prevention initiative aimed at reducing drug misuse, abuse, and overdose deaths. We also introduced “Good Medicine Bundles,” a set of hands-on, science-based, standards-aligned resources for elementary and middle school students to address the nation’s opioid crisis and encourage resiliency through a native approach to balance and wellness.
We introduced several drug factsheets to provide information to parents, caregivers, educators, community organizations, and the media to help raise awareness about illegal drugs, including fake prescription pills, fentanyl, methamphetamine, and heroin.
In 2021, DEA and its partners collected nearly 1.6 million pounds of unwanted and unneeded drugs during the National Prescription Drug Take Back Day events, which are held every year in April and October. For more than 10 years, this initiative has helped Americans rid their homes of unnecessary medications in a quick, easy, and anonymous way to reduce prescription drug misuse.
In October, the DEA Museum re-opened after a two-year renovation, including launching a new website with interactive exhibits like “DEA: Air, Land & Sea” and the “History of Drug Use.” The Wall of Honor was also updated, creating a fitting memorial to DEA agents and employees who died in service to the Nation. In November, DEA refreshed its education and prevention websites, Just Think Twice, Get Smart About Drugs and Campus Drug Prevention.
Different challenges and opportunities await us in 2022. And while no one knows what the coming year will bring, one thing remains certain: At every level, in every division, laboratory, and office, and across every state and in every foreign country where DEA operates, men and women remain steadfast in their commitment to DEA’s mission to keep our communities safe and healthy.
2021 Year in Photos
DEA. 29 December, 2021. DEA Highlights 2021. Retrieved from https://www.dea.gov/dea-highlights-2021 on 29 February, 2024
DEA. "DEA Highlights 2021."Drug Enforcement Agency, 29 December, 2021, https://www.dea.gov/dea-highlights-2021 Accessed 29 February, 2024.
DEA. . Drug Enforcement Agency on DEA website. https://www.dea.gov/dea-highlights-2021. 29 December, 2021. Accessed 29 February, 2024.