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DEA announces expansion of Operation Crystal Shield

WASHINGTON, D.C. (KVOA) – The Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) has announced the expansion of Operation Crystal Shield, an enforcement effort created to target methamphetamine transportation hubs throughout the United States.

According to the DEA, the expansion includes the designation of two additional methamphetamine “transportation hubs” in 2021.

"Through this effort, DEA is attacking the entire supply chain, locating and seizing meth shipments before they are broken down and trafficked into our communities and neighborhoods. The Chicago Field Division and San Francisco Field Division have been added to this initiative, along with the nine DEA field divisions originally selected to participate. Additionally, operational resources have been increased by 50 percent to attack the meth threat and the violence that accompanies it," the DEA said in a news release.

The DEA launched Operation Crystal Shield in February. Since then it has resulted in more than 800 investigations resulting in over 2,100 arrests, the seizure of nearly $54.5 million in drug proceeds, more than 300 firearms, and more than 60,000 pounds of methamphetamine.

“When DEA announced Operation Crystal Shield last February, we pledged to adjust, adapt, and expand our efforts based on the actions of the dangerous drug trafficking cartels, and today we are fulfilling that pledge,” DEA Acting Administrator Timothy J. Shea said. “This is an ever-evolving initiative to protect the American people from the dangers of methamphetamine. It is imperative we continue to keep up the intensity and reverse the trend of increased meth on our streets and deaths from meth use and overdose. This action is an important step to stymie this dangerous drug from flooding our neighborhoods and communities.”

The DEA said since the operation began it has identified changing trends in methamphetamine trafficking.

"Virtually all methamphetamine in the United States is produced in Mexico in industrial-like labs, through major ports of entry along the Southwest Border, and transported in tractor-trailers and personal vehicles along U.S. highways," the DEA said.

For example, the DEA said the Chicago Field Division has been identified as a hub for Sinaloa and CNJG operations that transport methamphetamine to communities across Wisconsin, Michigan, Illinois, and Indiana. The San Francisco Field Division has been identified as a hub for methamphetamine trafficked across northern California to Oregon and Nevada.

The DEA said the first nine DEA field divisions that participated in Operation Crystal Shield were selected because they had accounted for over 75% of the methamphetamine seized across the U.S. in 2019, which included the two new hubs of Chicago and San Francisco.

The DEA said the 11 divisions now taking part in Operation Crystal Shield represent more than 90% of the 118,146 pounds of methamphetamine seized throughout the U.S. last year.

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Alexis Berdine

Alexis Berdine is an Investigative Multi-Media Journalist at KVOA.

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