DEA project aims to stop flow of fentanyl across border

Local

SAN DIEGO (CNS) – The Drug Enforcement Administration announced Tuesday it is launching an initiative aimed at disrupting the flow of fentanyl across the U.S.-Mexico border into the San Diego region.

“Project Wave Breaker” will direct interdiction, enforcement and outreach efforts to the San Diego Field Division, according to the DEA, which said “analytical intelligence assets” will be used to target Mexican transnational criminal organizations, which are responsible for a majority of the supply and distribution of fentanyl and fentanyl substances throughout the United States.

The majority of fentanyl available in the U.S. comes through the ports of entry in San Diego and Imperial counties, DEA officials said.

Seizures of fentanyl-laced pills along the Southwest border increased more than 89% from January 2019 to December 2020, according to the DEA.

Eleven divisions will participate in the initiative, including San Diego, Los Angeles, San Francisco, Phoenix, New York, New England, Chicago, Detroit, Houston, St. Louis and El Paso.

“Project Wave Breaker will add a nationwide approach to combat fentanyl, which will enhance our efforts as we continue to fight against this deadly poison that has brought heartbreak and loss to so many families across the country,” said San Diego Field Division Special Agent in Charge John W. Callery.

Fentanyl is a synthetic opioid about 50 times more potent than heroin and about 100 times more potent than morphine, according to the DEA. Fentanyl is often found in the form of counterfeit pills made to look like legitimate pharmaceutical pills.

More than 87,200 people died from an overdose last year, marking the largest number of overdose deaths ever recorded in a 12-month period, according to data from the CDC. Deaths involving synthetic opioids — which includes fentanyl — increased near 60% during the same 12-month period that ended last September.

“While a major entry point for fentanyl is the Southwest border, the cartels are spreading their poison into communities across the nation,” said DEA Acting Administrator D. Christopher Evans. “Through this initiative, we’re tackling a very real public health, public safety and national security threat, identifying the most egregious street-level networks in our communities and working our way up through the supply chain.”

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