Operation Engage Spokane
I am Frank Tarentino, Special Agent in Charge of the Seattle Field Division and I’d like to welcome you to Operation Engage Spokane!
There are far too many non-fatal and fatal drug overdoses affecting our communities, and sadly, these numbers are increasing. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) estimates that over 104,000 people in the U.S. died from drug overdoses in the 12-month period ending on September 30, 2021. Sixty-five percent (65%) of those overdose deaths involved synthetic opioids such as fentanyl. In response, the DEA has moved toward community-level collaborative efforts to help reduce these numbers through education and awareness, using our wide range of resources.
Through Operation Engage, our division will focus on Spokane, Washington, targeting the fentanyl threat. Other components of Operation Engage include:
- Stakeholder/Community Gatherings: To share the latest information about drug trends, drug threats, and other related pertinent information.
- The DEA Citizens’ Academy: DEA recognizes the importance of forging strong alliances with local communities and maintaining collaborative relationships with community leaders. DEA’s Citizens Academy offers participants the opportunity to understand the world of federal drug law enforcement and the important role DEA and the community together, play in combating drug trafficking, drug misuse and related violence.
- Youth Engagement: Through after school and summer programs, in collaboration with the DEA Educational Foundation, children of all ages will be able to actively participate in age-appropriate activities, designed for them to learn and gain the most knowledge about the dangers of drugs in a fun way.
- Community Outreach Programs: DEA, along with stakeholder involvement, will concentrate efforts in the communities most affected by opioid misuse. In those targeted communities, the Seattle Field Division will participate in facilitating prevention strategies to include, but not limited to, drug prevention training and technical assistance for communities, coalition outreach, and prescription drug take back events to name a few.
These are only a few of the many resources and opportunities we have available to share with our communities.
I invite you, and your families, to explore our Operation Engage webpage to learn about the many resources we have available. Learning as a family, early on, is the first step in avoiding drug experimentation, drug misuse, drug addiction, and all related behaviors that are plaguing our communities.
Always at your service,
Top Local Drug Threat: Fentanyl
Drug Poisonings are a leading cause of death for Americans ages 18-45, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). The CDC estimates that over 110,000 people in the U.S. died from drug overdoses in 2022, almost 70% of these deaths were caused by fentanyl and other synthetic opioids.
Like most states across the country, the State of Washington has not been immune to the alarming increase in the availability of fentanyl and overdoses. In Washington, Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) records show that from 2019 to 2022 the amount of fentanyl seized by the DEA in Washington increased by 1670%. In 2022, the DEA Seattle Field Division seized twice as much fentanyl in Washington as was seized in 2021.
Along with the increase in seizures throughout the state, Washington experienced the associated increase in overdose deaths due to the availability and lethality of these counterfeit fentanyl pills. According to the Washington Department of Health (DOH), there were 805 fentanyl-related overdose deaths in the first three quarters of 2021 compared to 653 during the entire year of 2020.
Spokane's Fentanyl Problem
The City of Spokane is the second largest city in Washington State. Due to its location on I-90 and proximity to Canada, it’s a central hub for narcotics distributed throughout Eastern Washington and other States to the east to include Idaho and Montana. Opioids (illicit fentanyl and heroin) and prescription drugs are among the top regional drug threats in Washington.
According to the NW Region Bureau of Indian Affairs (BIA), Division of Drug Enforcement, there are three Indian Reservations (Kalispell Tribe, Spokane Tribe and Colville Tribe) in close proximity to Spokane and all three reservations are experiencing an alarming increase in fentanyl seizures as well as overdose deaths linked to fentanyl.
Drug poisoning deaths by other synthetic opioids like fentanyl held steady at under 100 per year until 2016, at which point they started spiking, increasing by more than 500 from 2020 to 2021 and from 2021 to the 2022 total of 1,762.
From 2017 to 2021, the DEA Seattle Field Division increased its fentanyl seizures by 2,700% in Eastern Washington. Specifically to Spokane County, Seattle Field Division fentanyl seizures increased by 1,098% from 2020 to 2021.
What is Fentanyl?
Fentanyl is a synthetic opioid that is 80-100 times stronger than morphine. Pharmaceutical fentanyl was developed for pain management treatment of cancer patients, applied in a patch on the skin. Because of its powerful opioid properties, fentanyl is also diverted for abuse.
Fentanyl is added to heroin to increase its potency, or be disguised as highly potent heroin.
Many fake pills, created to look to legitimate prescription medication, contain dangerous and sometimes deadly amounts of fentanyl.
DEA Fentanyl Seizures in 2022
In 2022, DEA seized more than 58.3 million fentanyl-laced fake pills and more than 13,000 pounds of fentanyl powder. The 2022 seizures are equivalent to more than 387.9 million lethal doses of fentanyl.
DEA has already seized more than 62.4 million fentanyl-laced fake pills and more than 9,700 pounds of fentanyl powder in 2023, as of October 3.
The Drug Enforcement Administration warns the American public of the
alarming increase in the lethality and availability of fake prescription pills containing fentanyl and methamphetamine. International and domestic criminal drug networks are mass-producing fake pills, falsely marketing them as legitimate prescription pills, and killing unsuspecting Americans.
These counterfeit pills are easy to purchase, widely available, and often contain deadly doses of fentanyl. Pills purchased outside of a licensed pharmacy are illegal, dangerous, and potentially lethal. This alert does not apply to legitimate pharmaceutical medications prescribed by medical professionals and dispensed by pharmacists. Read more.
See Related: Check out this Fake Pills factsheet.
Xylazine, reported as an adulterant in an increasing number of illicit drug mixtures, has also been detected in a growing number of overdose deaths. It is commonly encountered in combination with fentanyl but has also been detected in mixtures containing cocaine, heroin, and a variety of other drugs. However, xylazine is most frequently reported in combinations with two or more substances present. In addition to its presence in drug combinations, xylazine (often known as “tranq”) is used on its own, though this is less frequently reported. Limited scientific research has been conducted on the effects of xylazine on the human body, but anecdotal reports indicate that users experience effects similar to opioids. Xylazine can lead to depression of the central nervous system along with other adverse effects, as reported in scientific and medical journals; the presence of xylazine in illicit drug combinations and its detection in fatal overdoses may be more widespread than reported as a number of jurisdictions across the country may not include xylazine in forensic laboratory or toxicology testing.
Addiction Help Finder
Our goal is to simplify the path to recovery from addiction by providing a comprehensive, easy-to-navigate website. We highlight addiction help resources in Spokane and surrounding areas, focusing on prevention, treatment, recovery, and support. Designed for all community members impacted by addiction, our platform serves as a centralized hub of information for individuals, loved ones, and healthcare professionals alike. Learn more.
Created by Congress in 1988, the High Intensity Drug Trafficking Areas (HIDTA) Program coordinates and assists Federal, State, Local, and Tribal law enforcement agencies (LEAs) to address regional drug threats with the purpose of reducing drug trafficking and drug production in the United States. Learn more.
Department of Justice: Office of Justice Programs (OJP)
The Office of Justice Programs (OJP) provides innovative leadership to federal, state, local, and tribal justice systems, by disseminating state-of-the art knowledge and practices across America, and providing grants for the implementation of these crime fighting strategies. Because most of the responsibility for crime control and prevention falls to law enforcement
officers in states, cities, and neighborhoods, the federal government can be effective in these areas only to the extent that it can enter into partnerships with these officers.
Department of Health & Human Services (HHS): Substance Abuse Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA)
The Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) is the agency within the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services that leads public health efforts to advance the behavioral health of the nation. SAMHSA's mission is to reduce the impact of substance abuse and mental illness on America's communities. SAMHSA promotes and implements prevention and early intervention strategies to reduce the impact of mental and substance use disorders in America’s communities.
Center for Substance Abuse Prevention (CSAP)
The mission of the Center for Substance Abuse Prevention is to improve behavioral health through evidence-based prevention approaches. Center for Substance Abuse Treatment
The mission of the Center for Substance Abuse Treatment is to promote community-based substance abuse treatment and recovery services for individuals and families in every community. CSAT provides national leadership to improve access, reduce barriers, and promote high quality, effective treatment and recovery services.
Centers for Disease Control & Prevention (CDC)
CDC remains committed to advancing a public health approach to preventing drug overdose death and applies its scientific expertise to help curb the epidemic in three ways: improving data quality and surveillance to monitor and respond to the epidemic; strengthening state efforts by scaling up effective public health interventions; and equipping health care providers with the data and tools needed to improve the safety of their patients.
Interagency Coordinating Committee on the Prevention of Underage Drinking (ICCPUD)
The federal Interagency Coordinating Committee on the Prevention of Underage Drinking (ICCPUD) works with state, territorial, and local governments and organizations to reduce and prevent underage drinking and its consequences. ICCPUD’s website, StopAlcoholAbuse.gov,
provides the latest research and resources to support underage drinking prevention and related issues.
National Institute on Drug Abuse for Teens
The National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA) for Teens is a trusted source for science-based information on teen drug use and its effects. The website provides teens, teachers, and parents with information about the effects and consequences of drug use.
Community Drug Prevention Award Winner
Substance Misuse Prevention Resources
Greater Spokane Substance Abuse Council
Greater Spokane Substance Abuse Council's (GSSAC) Prevention Center supports a strong collaborative coalition with broad and diverse community representation that promotes primary community-wide substance abuse/violence prevention and reduction strategies. Learn more.
Youth Family Adult Connections
Youth Family Adult Connections (YFA), a nonprofit agency, provides counseling and treatment programs for youth, adults and families. Learn more.
Daybreak Youth Services
Daybreak Youth Services is a 501c3 non-profit provider of adolescent addiction and mental health treatment services in Washington state. Learn more.
Spokane Regional Health District
The Opioid Treatment Program at Spokane Regional Health District provides services for adults dependent on opioids (heroin, morphine, hydrocodone, oxycodone, etc.). The program uses a medication-assisted approach in which individuals experience a decrease in withdrawal symptoms and cravings typically associated with opioid use. Learn more.
Washington State Health Care Authority
As the largest health care purchaser in the state, the Washington State Health Care Authority helps ensure Washington residents have access to better health and better care at a lower cost. Learn more.
Stopoverdose.org is a project of the Center for Drug Safety and Services Education (CDSSE) at the University of Washington Addictions, Drug & Alcohol Institute (ADAI). CDSSE offers education and technical assistance for individuals, professionals, and communities in Washington State who want to learn to prevent and respond to overdose and improve the health of people who use drugs. Learn more.
Washington Poison Center
The Washington Poison Center is a 501(c)3 nonprofit organization serving the citizens of Washington state since 1956. The specialists in poison information answer more than 138,000 calls a year from Washingtonians related to poisoning and toxic exposures. Learn more.
Just Think Twice
The JustThinkTwice.com website aims to educate teens about the dangers of substance misuse.
Get Smart About Drugs
The GetSmartAboutDrugs.com website is geared to parents, caretakers, and educators. The site provides information and statistics about drug use.
One Pill Can Kill
The Drug Enforcement Administration has issued a Public Safety Alert warning Americans of the alarming increase in the lethality and availability of fake prescription pills containing fentanyl and methamphetamine.
DEA Take Back Day
DEA’s National Prescription Drug Take Back Day reflects DEA’s commitment to Americans’ safety and health, encouraging the public to remove unneeded medications from their homes as a measure of preventing medication misuse and opioid addiction from ever starting.
Go to FindTreatment.gov to search for general drug treatment facilities in your area. On this site, you can find facilities that offer various payment options (including free and no-cost care), youth treatment facilities, special programs for Veterans, plus more.
Otherwise, enter your zip code below to find substance abuse treatment facilities in your area.
Please DO NOT submit tips using the feedback form on this page.
Use the official tips page (https://www.dea.gov/submit-tip) to report what appears to you as a possible violation of controlled substances laws and regulations.
Tips submitted to the feedback form below WILL NOT be addressed.
DEA. 28 January, 2022. Operation Engage Spokane. Retrieved from https://www.dea.gov/engage/operation-engage-spokane on 28 November, 2023
DEA. "Operation Engage Spokane."Drug Enforcement Agency, 28 January, 2022, https://www.dea.gov/engage/operation-engage-spokane Accessed 28 November, 2023.
DEA. . Drug Enforcement Agency on DEA website. https://www.dea.gov/engage/operation-engage-spokane. 28 January, 2022. Accessed 28 November, 2023.