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Phoenix to get DEA help with growing meth epidemic


PHOENIX — Phoenix, Los Angeles, El Paso, Dallas, Houston, New Orleans, St. Louis and Atlanta accounted for three-quarters of methamphetamine busts in 2019, according to the Drug Enforcement Administration.

To combat the growing problem, the DEA is launching Operation Crystal Shield to boost resources in these cities.

“It’s going to give us the funding that we need to gather information and to dedicate additional technology,” said DEA Phoenix Spokeswoman Erica Curry.

Meth seizures in the Valley rose 78% last year over 2018.

From 2017-19, DEA domestic seizures of methamphetamine increased 127% from 49,507 lbs. to 112,146 lbs.

During the same time frame, the number of DEA arrests related to methamphetamine rose nearly 20%.

The operation will build up intelligence to share with law enforcement partners “so that, when we pass them a lead… ‘Hey, there’s a truck coming across the border, or somebody’s going to run a load,’ they’re going to focus all of their efforts on stopping that drug from making it into the U.S.,” Curry said.

Curry noted that the meth seizures in Phoenix routinely result in confiscations of wholesale quantities upwards of 75 lbs that would have otherwise been “parceled out and shipped off to the rest of the country.”

Curry says most of the meth comes from south of the border.

“The Mexican cartels will continue to feed the market as long as the American consumer demands it,” she said.

The federal Combat Methamphetamine Epidemic Act of 2005 sought to reduce domestic production of meth by regulating access to common medications containing ingredients necessary to produce the deadly drug.

“For decades, methamphetamine has been a leading cause of violence and addiction – a drug threat that has never gone away,” said DEA Acting Administrator Uttam Dhillon.

“With a 22% increase in methamphetamine-related overdose deaths, now is the time to act, and DEA is leading the way with a surge of interdiction efforts and resources, targeting regional transportation hubs throughout the United States.

“By reducing the supply of meth, we reduce the violence, addiction, and death it spreads,” he continued.

Most of the meth arrives in the U.S. in cars and trucks crossing through ports of entry.

Arizona has four such ports.

Curry says all of this is why Operation Crystal Shield is set to target “command and control” elements on both sides of the border.

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