February 24, 2021
Contact: SA Debbie Webber
Phone Number: (571) 362-4803
DEA Rolls Out Operation Engage
NEW ORLEANS – Today the United States Drug Enforcement Administration 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. New Orleans Field Division submitted one of the 11 proposals approved in the initial round of funding and will focus its Operation Engage efforts on opioids and methamphetamine.
DEA Special Agent in Charge Brad L. Byerley said, “While drug overdoses remain widespread in communities across America, killing over 220 people a day, DEA continues to find new and innovative ways to address this growing health and public safety crisis. DEA’s Operation Engage will raise awareness of local drug threats, leveraging community resources available to support drug prevention and education and attack the opioid and methamphetamine drug scourges at every level. This inclusive approach unites everyone who has an interest in making Baton Rouge and the surrounding communities safer for our families.”
The goals of Operation Engage are to:
- Identify the drugs that affect individuals and families in the designated areas
- 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
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.
Overdose deaths involving methamphetamine increased almost 35% in the past year and now exceed the number of cocaine-involved overdose deaths, which increased by 26.5%. The record number of overdose deaths represents an 18 percent increase year over year. While this increase began prior to the COVID-19 health emergency, it accelerated significantly during the first months of the pandemic. These deaths are likely linked to the co-use or contamination of cocaine and synthetic opioids.
DEA works every day to target and take down the drug trafficking organizations flooding American communities with illegal drugs. But confronting this public health crisis requires a strategy to reduce demand in those communities.
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.
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