Drug Enforcement Administration

DEA Headquarters

October 12, 2018

Contact: National Media Affairs Office

Phone Number: (202) 307-1000

DEA Acting Administrator underscores the importance of drug enforcement efforts to combat opioid epidemic

SALT LAKE CITY – DEA Acting Administrator Uttam Dhillon today highlighted the significance of law enforcement as part of a successful, comprehensive solution to the opioid epidemic, stressing efforts aimed at those supplying communities with deadly, addictive drugs. Acting Administrator Dhillon delivered remarks to hundreds of medical practitioners, drug treatment professionals, attorneys and law enforcement officials at the annual Utah Solutions Summit in Salt Lake City.

“As difficult a subject as drug abuse is, it’s sometimes more difficult to talk about enforcement,” said Acting Administrator Dhillon. “This is, I think, because Americans naturally want to treat the victims of drug abuse with compassion and kindness. However, when it comes to drug traffickers, particularly leaders of the large-scale trafficking networks that DEA specifically targets, we find ruthless gangs and remorseless criminals willing to poison our communities for profit. They never give a second thought to their victims, the devastation their poison spreads, and the violence that often follows the communities they invade.”

Dhillon went on to discuss the role of DEA’s 360 program in engaging the entire community while supporting effective enforcement actions to reduce drug supply.  

“Getting dangerous drugs off our streets and out of our neighborhoods is necessary to achieve the objectives of DEA’s 360 program here in Utah. This strategic approach is a partnership:  a partnership where we work hand-in-hand to empower your community to develop and implement a sustainable plan of action. With 360 we can, and we will change the trajectory of this community, and set a new course.”

Dhillon outlined three reasons why enforcement is an important bridge to professional educators, demand reduction experts and the recovery community.

“First, except for those who have experienced the consequences of drug abuse themselves, no one has sacrificed or seen the immediate, devastating impact of drug abuse more than law enforcement and our first responders… First responders are credible experts who not only see the effect of drugs on the minds and bodies of users, but also know the direct connection between drugs and the support they provide for violent gangs and criminal cartels… Second, I firmly believe that the more we reduce access to drugs, the fewer drugs there are to be abused, and fewer people will use them… Third, it’s important that drug traffickers know they cannot break the law with impunity.”

Dhillon discussed the results DEA 360 has already produced in Utah, including commitments by community leaders at the local, state and federal level; the development of the Utah Opioid Task Force; and DEA’s participation in neighborhood town hall events across all of Utah’s 29 counties.

Dhillon ended by reemphasizing the need for this community-oriented approach and DEA’s commitment to combatting this epidemic.  

“The bottom line is that stopping drug abuse before it starts isn’t just the responsibility of education and prevention programs:  it takes all of us to make people and communities whole again. Effective law enforcement has a critical, leading role to play in achieving this outcome, and DEA will be there, extending a hand to our education and treatment partners, and bringing drug traffickers to justice.”     

The Utah Solutions Summit serves to combat the ongoing opioid crisis by bringing together the local and national community to explore better choices, overcome stigma and shame, and provide an opportunity to educate and empower Utahns. This year’s summit is focused on reaching youth and addressing addiction before it begins, seeking to give those who deal most directly with the problems caused by opioid misuse and addiction the opportunity to connect.

View Acting Administrator Dhillon’s complete remarks.

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