DEA Rolls Out Operation Engage
New initiative focuses on top drug threats
PHILADELPHIA-Today the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) launched a new comprehensive law enforcement and prevention initiative aimed at reducing drug use, abuse, and overdose deaths. Operation Engage allows participating field divisions to focus on the biggest drug threat and resulting violence in their respective geographic areas. The initiative builds on and replaces DEA’s 360 Strategy, which aimed its resources specifically at opioids, and allows field divisions to customize plans and direct resources to target the drug that presents the greatest threat to public health and safety in their jurisdictions. The Philadelphia Field Division submitted one of the 11 proposals approved in the initial round of funding and will focus its Operation Engage efforts on illicit fentanyl, illicit stimulants such as methamphetamine, and youth marijuana use.
Recent statistics released by the Centers for Disease Control show an alarming rise in drug overdose deaths, with synthetic opioids driving record-high fatalities. The vast majority of deaths involve illicitly manufactured fentanyl, including fentanyl analogs.
“Illicit fentanyl poses the greatest drug threat to our region and the nation at large,” said Jonathan A. Wilson, Special Agent in Charge of the DEA’s Philadelphia Field Division. “In 2020 in Philadelphia County alone, illicit fentanyl was present in more than 80% of the county’s fatal drug overdose deaths; in 2015, fentanyl was present in only 27% of overdose deaths in Philadelphia. This dramatic increase shows how prevalent illicit fentanyl is in the drug supply and the catastrophic effect it has had on our communities.”
Overdose deaths with the presence of methamphetamine and/or cocaine continue to rise each year across Pennsylvania and Delaware, with a significant number also involving an illicit opioid.
DEA works every day to investigate and prosecute drug trafficking organizations flooding American communities with illegal drugs. To be most effective, a multi-prong strategy of law enforcement, prevention, and education is required to reduce demand in those communities.
The goals of Operation Engage, which will primarily be implemented by DEA Philadelphia Field Division Community Outreach Specialists Robert R. Niczyporowicz and Frank J. McCartney, are as follows:
- Identify evidence-informed strategies that best fit community needs
- Identify and eliminate local drug threats in every field division
- Support and contribute to local drug use prevention efforts
- Bridge local public safety and public health efforts
- Build on the success of DEA 360 and expand Operation Engage nationwide in 2022
The Operation Engage initiative encourages partnerships with healthcare professionals, as well as engagement with community and social service organizations best positioned to provide long-term assistance and support for building drug-free communities.
For more information, visit the Operation Engage webpage (https://www.dea.gov/operation-engage).
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