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Drug Enforcement Administration

El Paso

Kyle Williamson, Special Agent in Charge

February 24, 2021

Contact: Carlos A. Briano

Phone Number: 571-324-7093

DEA Rolls Out Operation Engage

New strategy focuses on specific drug threats

ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. – 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. The El Paso Field Division submitted one of the 11 proposals approved in the initial round of funding. As part of that strategy, the El Paso Field Division will be working with community organizations over the coming year to help prevent misuse of meth and opioids in Albuquerque.

“I’m very excited about Operation Engage,” said Kyle W. Williamson, Special Agent in Charge of the Drug Enforcement Administration’s El Paso Division. “When we do enforcement work in a community, we typically go in, remove the drugs and the bad guys, then leave. With Operation Engage, we can remain in the community and strategically work with community partners to effectively reduce drug demand and dependency.”

  • - 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.

For more information visit ABQ.dea.gov and www.operationengage.com. 

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