NEW ORLEANS, La. (KLFY) — The U.S. Drug Enforcement Agency (DEA) announced today they are focusing new efforts on fighting crystal methamphetamine distribution across the South and named New Orleans as one of the nation’s “hubs” for meth activity.
DEA has identified eight major methamphetamine transportation hubs where their efforts will be concentrated: Atlanta, Dallas, El Paso, Houston, Los Angeles, New Orleans, Phoenix, and St. Louis. Together, these DEA Field Divisions accounted for more than 75 percent of methamphetamine seized in the U.S. in 2019.
The new initiative, named “Crystal Shield,” will build on existing DEA initiatives, the agency said today in a press release.
Mexican cartels are responsible for the overwhelming majority of methamphetamine trafficked into and within the United States. DEA domestic seizures of methamphetamine increased 127 percent from 49,507 pounds to 112,146 pounds from FY 2017 to FY 2019. During the same time frame, the number of DEA arrests related to methamphetamine rose nearly 20 percent.
“For decades, methamphetamine has been a leading cause of violence and addiction – a drug threat that has never gone away,” said Acting DEA Administrator Uttam Dhillon. “With a 22 percent 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.”
The DEA New Orleans Field Division, which covers Louisiana, Mississippi, Alabama, and
Arkansas, is seeing a significant increase in the amount of methamphetamine seized, up 58
percent in the last year, according to the press release.
Virtually all methamphetamine in the United States comes through major ports of entry along the Southwest Border and is transported by tractor-trailers and personal vehicles along the nation’s highways to major transfer centers around the country. It is often found in poly-drug loads, alongside cocaine, heroin, and fentanyl.