DEA announces launch of Project Safeguard
Drug Enforcement Administration Acting Administrator Timothy J. Shea and Special Agent in Charge Robert J. Bell, Chicago Division, announced that the DEA will direct resources to help reduce violent crime in Chicago and communities throughout the country. Under this initiative, called Project Safeguard, DEA will identify and prioritize drug trafficking investigations with a nexus to violent crime.
Drug trafficking and violent crime are inextricably linked,” said Acting Administrator Shea. “From the extreme levels of violence in Mexican cartels, to the open air drug markets in American cities, drug traffickers employ violence, fear, and intimidation to ply their trade. Neighborhoods across our country are terrorized by violent drug trafficking organizations that have little regard for human life, and profit from the pain and suffering of our people. Along with our law enforcement partners, DEA is committed to safeguarding the health and safety of our communities."
“From big cities to small towns across Illinois, Indiana and Wisconsin, DEA is committed to combatting drugs and violence with our federal, state and local partners,” said DEA Special Agent in Charge Robert J. Bell. “DEA is steadfast in our commitment to protect communities from drug-related violent crime.”
Working in collaboration with our federal, state and local partners, including the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives and the U.S. Marshals Service, DEA’s Project Safeguard will comprise three focus areas to address the growing violent crime threat in many cities across the United States:
- Disrupting, dismantling, and destroying the most significant violent drug trafficking organizations throughout the United States;
- Increasing collaboration with ATF to ensure effective federal prosecution of firearms traffickers associated with drug trafficking organizations; and
- Prioritizing the capture of DEA fugitives who employ violence as part of drug trafficking.
The traffickers that flood our communities with deadly drugs, including opioids, heroin, fentanyl, meth and cocaine, are often the same criminals responsible for the high rates of assault, murder, and gang activity in our cities. These criminals employ fear, violence and intimidation to traffic drugs, and in doing so exacerbate a crisis of drug overdoses that claims more than 70,000 American lives every year. DEA is committed to treating these crimes as homicides, where appropriate.
In recent months, violent crime has spiked in numerous cities and regions around the country, and drug trafficking is responsible, in part, for this violence. In Chicago, Indianapolis and Milwaukee - and in other cities - DEA is working collaboratively with federal, state and local partners to combat the surge in violence.
Since Project Safeguard began in August 2020, it has resulted in more than 265 arrests, more than 195 seized firearms, $3.9 million in seized assets, and 3,000 pounds of seized controlled substances in the Chicago Field Division.