DEA Washington Division Releases 2020 National Drug Threat Assessment for D.C., Maryland, and Virginia Communities
Washington, D.C. – Today, DEA Acting Administrator D. Christopher Evans, and Special Agent in Charge of the DEA Washington Division, Jarod Forget, announce the release of the 2020 National Drug Threat Assessment – DEA’s annual publication outlining the threats posed to the U.S. by domestic and international drug trafficking and the abuse of illicit drugs.
“As we battle the COVID-19 pandemic, we remain committed to our work addressing the opioid and related overdose crises and supporting our residents during this vital time,” states Jarod Forget, Special Agent in Charge of the DEA Washington Division. ”This report will show you, in no uncertain terms, the root causes and issues we are dealing with across our area and throughout the nation, the impact and issues of those dealing with substance use disorders, and why we are focused on serving those in need with our new, comprehensive engagement strategy targeting the overdose, drug, and related violence in every neighborhood across the DMV.”
Drugs trends across the United States continue to evolve. Fentanyl, one of the most deadly drugs, is seen across the local markets at epidemic levels, affecting vulnerable communities and community members during the pandemic, and causing overdose deaths at rates never seen before. Meanwhile, the stimulant threat, particularly that of methamphetamine, is worsening both in volume and reach, with traffickers selling increasing amounts outside of traditional markets.
2020 NDTA findings of note for the DEA Washington Division (D.C., Maryland, and Virginia region):
Fentanyl-related deaths far outnumber any drug-related deaths across in the area. Although heroin and prescription opioid deaths have been decreasing steadily since 2017, overall overdose rates, coinciding with the COVID-19 pandemic, are at record high levels across all of Maryland, D.C., and Virginia.
Counterfeit prescription pills (often made to resemble Percocet, Oxycodone (“M-30s”) or Xanax) appeared only sporadically across the area prior to 2020, but are now present in every community within the Division and carry a large risk of containing the very deadly drug fentanyl.
Methamphetamine availability increased dramatically in Virginia, including in urban areas, and has even risen in Maryland, a state with traditionally no notable methamphetamine market.
Mexican Transnational Criminal Organizations represent the greatest foreign criminal threat in the area -- responsible for trafficking large amounts of fentanyl, methamphetamine, heroin, and cocaine into the area, and have even established secondary distribution hubs in some parts of the Division.
COVID-19 restrictions drove up the prices for fentanyl and heroin across the tristate area, but did not have a long-term effect on availability. Methamphetamine prices are now generally lower than pre-COVID prices because of increased availability. Cocaine availability (and therefore price), however, was dramatically impacted, with local DTOs claiming cocaine shortages while still offering heroin, fentanyl, and counterfeit pills for sale.
The DEA Washington Division uses the annual National Drug Threat Assessment, along with their robust Intelligence group’s knowledge of the issues specific to the communities across D.C., Maryland, and Virginia, to provide an ongoing assessment of the challenges local communities face related to drug abuse, drug trafficking, and related public health issues. The Division works with local public health partners, targets enforcement and prevention efforts, and travels around the area to present these findings to federal, state, and local law enforcement and interested community partners.
Highlights in the report include usage and trafficking trends for drugs such as prescription drugs, fentanyl, methamphetamine, cocaine, heroin, and hundreds of synthetic drugs. New to this year’s report is the effect of COVID-19 during the first part of 2020.
The assessment gathers information from many data sources such as drug investigations and seizures, drug purity, laboratory analysis, information on transnational and domestic criminal groups, and U.S. government drug cultivation and production estimates.
The National Drug Threat Assessment is available at https://www.dea.gov/documents/2021/03/02/2020-national-drug-threat-assessment.
For more information on drug trends and issues in the D.C., Maryland, and Virginia regions, please contact the DEA Washington Division Public Information office.
# # #