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.”
“The DEA Phoenix Field Division has declared methamphetamine its greatest drug threat as the Mexican cartels continue to produce more methamphetamine in greater quantities, and more citizens overdose from the drug across the U.S.,” said Apolonio Ruiz, Jr., Acting Special Agent in Charge of DEA in Arizona. “Our agents will continue to pursue those traffickers who peddle these dangerous drugs and through our justice system, hold them accountable for the community they destroy.”
In the DEA Phoenix Field Division, which covers the state of Arizona, DEA is seeing a significant increase in the amount of methamphetamine seized, up nearly 78% percent in the last year. As a transportation hub, we are committed to using all our enforcement resources to attack this problem. Specifically, the DEA in Arizona will continue to pursue those investigations targeting the command and control elements operating on both sides of the Arizona/Mexico Border. Arizona and DEA’s investigations within the state are critical to the disruption and dismantlement of drug trafficking organizations and their domestic operations.
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.