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Drug Enforcement Administration


Daniel C. Comeaux , Special Agent in Charge

September 10, 2020

Contact: Sammy Parks

Phone Number: (713) 693-3329

Attorney General William P. Barr Joins DEA Acting Administrator Timothy J. Shea to Announce results of Operation Crystal Shield

Nearly 29,000 pounds of methamphetamine seized by DEA before reaching American streets

WASHINGTON – Today, Attorney General William P. Barr and Drug Enforcement Administration Acting Administrator Timothy J. Shea announced the results of Operation Crystal Shield, DEA’s six-month-long effort targeting the command and control elements of Mexican cartels that operate major methamphetamine “transportation hubs” in the United States.

At a press conference in Phoenix, Arizona, Attorney General Barr and Acting Administrator Shea announced that in just six months, Operation Crystal Shield generated a total of more than 750 investigations, resulting in nearly 1,840 arrests and the seizure of more than 28,560 pounds of methamphetamine, $43.3 million in drug proceeds, and 284 firearms.

Acting Administrator Shea Quote: “In the months leading up to the launch of Operation Crystal Shield, communities across the United States experienced a surge of methamphetamine,” said Acting Administrator Timothy J. Shea. “The COVID pandemic locked down many communities and impacted legitimate businesses, but the drug trade continued. Under difficult conditions, DEA – along with our federal, state, and local partners – never stopped working as we helped stem the flow of methamphetamine onto our streets, even as violent drug traffickers sought new ways to smuggle it into the United States.  The success of Operation Crystal Shield reflects the devotion of DEA and our partners to protect our communities from the scourge of drug trafficking and violent crime under any circumstances.”

“During the past several months, DEA and our partners have committed significant resources targeting Transnational Criminal Organizations that traffic in methamphetamine,” said DEA Special Agent in Charge Steven S. Whipple.  “Virtually all of the methamphetamine seized in south and east Texas in recent years was manufactured in super-labs in Mexico and smuggled across the Southwest Border. Often it arrives suspended in liquid, then is extracted and converted to crystal methamphetamine for ultimate distribution throughout our nation.  Operation Crystal Shield and the Houston Division continue to identify and dismantle those organizations that manufacture and traffic methamphetamine, as well as smuggle it to other cities across the U.S.”

DEA launched Operation Crystal Shield on February 20, after identifying nine major methamphetamine trafficking hubs: Atlanta, Dallas, El Paso, Houston, Los Angeles, New Orleans, Phoenix, San Diego and St. Louis.  Together these nine cities accounted for more than 75 percent of methamphetamine seized by DEA in 2019.  Under this operation, DEA directed enforcement resources to these cities where methamphetamine is often trafficked in bulk and then distributed across the country.  

Operation Crystal Shield leveraged 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 timeframe, the number of DEA arrests related to methamphetamine increased by nearly 20 percent. 



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