News Release [printer friendly page]
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
August 30, 2005
Prepared Remarks of DEA Administrator Karen P. Tandy at Operation WildFire
August 30, 2005
Over the past week, DEA agents
and diversion investigators, state and local law enforcement, and prosecutors
undertook the first coordinated
nationwide methamphetamine enforcement sweep. We arrested and put out
of business 427 meth cooks, dealers, and transporters in 200 cities across
the nation, and specifically targeted meth cooks and repeat offenders
removing 120 of them out of our neighborhoods. And, behind all these
We saw -- and rescued -- meth’s youngest victims, like
the Missouri infant and 6 year old girl we pulled out of a bug-infested
home where meth was being cooked. The children had no beds to sleep in
and no food to eat – they didn’t even have electricity – but
the guard dog out front was well-cared for.
We saw a toxic meth lab set up in a hotel room in Minneapolis—a
hotel that is across the street from an elementary school.
in Missouri a sophisticated biker gang running a meth lab where
three of the five
manufacturers were repeat meth offenders.
Their operation was surrounded with hi-tech video surveillance
equipment that allowed them to detect any law enforcement a quarter
of a mile away.
We saw a mailman in Michigan delivering more than letters—he
delivered meth to houses on his route and was a user himself.
meth cooks operating in an assisted living home in Pennsylvania.
Two of the 90-year-old
patients had to be hospitalized as a result of
exposure to the meth lab.
Those are just
some of the examples of what we put an end to this past week.
True to this operation’s
name, meth has spread like wildfire across the United States. It has
burned out communities, scorched childhoods,
and charred once happy and productive lives beyond recognition.
In addition to the arrests
in Operation Wildfire, we closed down 56 meth labs and seized 208 pounds
of meth – that’s enough to
give a hit of meth to more than 284,000 people – roughly the population
of Newark, New Jersey. We also seized more than a quarter million dollars
of drug money.
This focus on meth isn’t new to the DEA. Meth is America’s
Own – homemade, cheap and readily available – we are making
progress but this is going to be a long haul, which we have been fully
committed to along with our state and local partners.
Here in our neighborhoods,
our courageous DEA agents are arresting meth cooks and traffickers—5,500
of them in the past year.
We have prioritized and deployed DEA’s
Mobile Enforcement Teams to take down meth trafficking rings.
training our state and local partners to safely dismantle these
meth labs -- 9,300 of them since 1998 -- and arming
each officer with $2,200 worth of equipment to raid meth labs.
year, DEA administered more than $18 million in funding for more
than 10,000 meth lab cleanups
- Together, U.S. and Canadian law enforcement and U.S. Attorneys
drove most of the largest “super” meth labs out of
America by arresting and prosecuting those who were supplying the
needed to manufacture pound quantities of meth.
As a result, 65% of meth now sold in America is manufactured by Mexican
trafficking organizations, and DEA is working with Mexican officials
to block that flow.
Justice Department and DEA are providing meth training to Mexico
investigators and prosecutors.
is attacking international meth cartels by denying them necessary
chemicals, profits, and trafficking
routes; by seizing their
drugs and dismantling their U.S. distribution cells; and by working
with our international partners to target meth kingpins themselves.
A little over a week ago, we concluded Operation Three Hour
Tour where we targeted high-level Colombian and Mexican drug traffickers
in the U.S. We dismantled three major transportation cells and 27 distribution
groups and seized 155 pounds of meth – enough to give a hit
of meth to more than 200,000 people.
On a related front -- in the
U.S. and beyond our borders -- we’re
denying meth manufacturers—large and small—the necessary
precursor chemicals they need to make their poison, particularly pseudoephedrine.
In Operation Wildfire alone, we seized more than 400,000 tablets of precursors
as well as 336 pounds of pseudoephedrine powder — which would produce
more than 350,000 hits of meth.
the past 7 years, more than 2,000 pseudoephedrine-related chemical
applications have been denied, surrendered,
or withdrawn as a result of DEA investigations.
We’re taking this fight around the globe, because to win
against meth in places like St. Louis or Sacramento, we have to go to
places like Hong Kong—which is too often where meth cartels
go for bulk pseudoephedrine.
international operation, we worked with partners from Hong Kong,
Mexico, and Panama
and prevented 68 million pseudoephedrine
tablets from reaching meth cartels, which could have produced more
than 2 metric tons of meth.
To continue that kind of success, DEA is forging international
agreements -- between Mexico, Hong Kong and other countries -- to jointly
pre-screen pseudoephedrine shipments to ensure they are going to legitimate
Mexican companies for legitimate use and to stop those that aren’t.
Finally, the American family room and classrooms are our most important
Today, DEA launches “justthinktwice.com” a cutting-edge
website devoted to and designed by teenagers to give them the hard facts
about meth and other drugs in “teenspeak,” with graphic photos
and personal stories – about how meth will steal their future
and their looks, and take control of their life. This straight
is aimed at stopping young people from going down the dark road
Justthinktwice.com website is exclusively aimed at our teenagers
and young adults for
good reason: according to a recent
study, nearly half of meth users began during high school.
The good news is that, since 2001, meth use has declined 25%
among our teenagers. DEA’s website will help continue that
morning, Channel 1 will broadcast a demonstration of the new DEA
12,000 middle and high schools, reaching 8 million
teenagers and 400,000 educators.
America has been scorched by the wildfire grip of meth. We cannot expect
a cure overnight. But, with this nationwide operation, we extinguished
some of those fires. And, DEA is fully committed to a sustained effort,
here and abroad, to beat meth back. Our country and its children deserve