DEA announces launch of Operation Crystal Shield
Efforts will focus on main U.S. methamphetamine trafficking transportation hubs
WASHINGTON – Drug Enforcement Administration Acting Administrator Uttam Dhillon today announced that the DEA will direct enforcement resources to methamphetamine “transportation hubs” — areas where methamphetamine is often trafficked in bulk and then distributed across the country. While continuing to focus on stopping drugs being smuggled across the border, DEA’s Operation Crystal Shield will ramp up enforcement to block their further distribution into America’s neighborhoods.
DEA has identified eight major methamphetamine transportation hubs where these efforts will be concentrated: Atlanta, Dallas, El Paso, Houston, Los Angeles, New Orleans, Phoenix, and St. Louis. Together, these DEA Field Divisions accounted for more than 75 percent of methamphetamine seized in the U.S. in 2019.
Operation Crystal Shield builds on existing DEA initiatives that target major drug trafficking networks, including the Mexican cartels that are responsible for the overwhelming majority of methamphetamine trafficked into and within the United States. From FY 2017 to FY 2019, DEA domestic seizures of methamphetamine increased 127 percent from 49,507 pounds to 112,146 pounds. During the same time frame, the number of DEA arrests related to methamphetamine rose nearly twenty percent.
“For decades, methamphetamine has been a leading cause of violence and addiction – a drug threat that has never gone away,” said Acting Administrator Dhillon. “With a 22 percent increase in methamphetamine-related overdose deaths, now is the time to act, and DEA is leading the way with a surge of interdiction efforts and resources, targeting regional transportation hubs throughout the United States. By reducing the supply of meth, we reduce the violence, addiction, and death it spreads.”
“San Diego is one of the meth gateways to the United States,” said Special Agent in Charge John W. Callery. “Over 60 percent of the methamphetamine that enters our country, enters through the ports of entry in San Diego and Imperial Counties. DEA and our outstanding law enforcement partners in the San Diego area will continue to work night and day to stem the flow of this poison from entering our communities.”
Communities across the country have been impacted by the dramatic increases in meth production, seizures and overdose deaths. From FY 2018 to FY 2019, DEA seizures of methamphetamine in San Diego and Imperial Counties increased approximately 32 percent. In San Diego County, there were 483 methamphetamine-related deaths in 2018 – a 31.25 percent increase from 2017.
Virtually all methamphetamine in the United States comes through major ports of entry along the Southwest Border and is transported by tractor trailers and personal vehicles along the nation’s highways to major transfer centers around the country. It is often found in poly-drug loads, alongside cocaine, heroin, and fentanyl.
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