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The Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) has announced a significant step forward in its fight against Mexican drug cartels that are flooding the streets of America with fentanyl. After a year-long investigation, the agency has changed its tactics and developed a new strategy to combat the issue. Here are the details from CBS.
The problem: smuggling fentanyl into the country
The cartels smuggle fentanyl pills into the United States by the thousands. They hide them in gas tanks, tires, and even shipments of fresh fish, disguising them as less harmful drugs like Adderall.
The solution: Operation Last Mile
For the first time, the DEA believes it has found a way to fight back against fentanyl. It has implemented a new program called “Operation Last Mile” that targets the entire trafficking network, from where the cartels purchase precursor chemicals in China to where they mass-produce fentanyl in powder and fake-pill form.
According to DEA administrator Anne Milgram, the agency and its law enforcement partners have seized nearly 44 million fentanyl pills and arrested more than 3,000 people over the past year, including couriers transporting pills across the border and sellers on social media. Milgram emphasizes the urgency of the situation, stating that drug traffickers are “killing their customers.”
The impact: fentanyl’s deadly effects
Fentanyl is incredibly addictive and lethal. It is 50 times more addictive than heroin and caused the deaths of over 72,000 Americans last year alone. The DEA headquarters is lined with pictures of the victims, including Angelina Rogers, who was 21 when she unknowingly took a fentanyl pill and never woke up.
Targeting Chinese chemical producers
The DEA has started to target individuals in China who produce the chemicals that Mexican cartels use to make fentanyl. Unlike plant-based drugs, fentanyl is entirely dependent on the chemicals produced by these individuals. However, the current issue is that China will not extradite these individuals or cooperate with DEA investigations. The US officials are hoping that issuing more evidence and indictments will eventually put more pressure on China to crack down on its own.
The bottom line
With the implementation of Operation Last Mile, the DEA is taking an innovative approach to combat fentanyl trafficking by targeting the entire trafficking network. Although the problem is still ongoing, the agency’s new tactics are a step forward in the right direction to protect Americans from the devastating effects of this highly addictive drug.