August 30, 2005
Remarks of DEA Administrator Karen P. Tandy at Operation WildFire
August 30, 2005
Over the past week,
DEA agents and diversion investigators, state and local law enforcement,
and prosecutors undertook the first coordinated nationwide methamphetamine
enforcement sweep. We arrested and put out of business 427 meth cooks,
dealers, and transporters in 200 cities across the nation, and specifically
targeted meth cooks and repeat offenders removing 120 of them out of
our neighborhoods. And, behind all these numbers….:
We saw -- and
rescued -- meth’s youngest victims, like the Missouri infant
and 6 year old girl we pulled out of a bug-infested home where
meth was being cooked. The children had no beds to sleep in and
no food to eat – they didn’t even have electricity – but
the guard dog out front was well-cared for.
We saw a toxic
meth lab set up in a hotel room in Minneapolis—a hotel that
is across the street from an elementary school.
We saw in Missouri
a sophisticated biker gang running a meth lab where three of the
five manufacturers were repeat meth offenders. Their operation
was surrounded with hi-tech video surveillance equipment that allowed
them to detect any law enforcement a quarter of a mile away.
We saw a mailman
in Michigan delivering more than letters—he delivered meth
to houses on his route and was a user himself.
We saw meth
cooks operating in an assisted living home in Pennsylvania. Two
of the 90-year-old patients had to be hospitalized as a result
of exposure to the meth lab.
Those are just
some of the examples of what we put an end to this past week.
True to this operation’s
name, meth has spread like wildfire across the United States. It has
burned out communities, scorched childhoods, and charred once happy
and productive lives beyond recognition.
In addition to the
arrests in Operation Wildfire, we closed down 56 meth labs and seized
208 pounds of meth – that’s enough to give a hit of meth
to more than 284,000 people – roughly the population of Newark,
New Jersey. We also seized more than a quarter million dollars of drug
This focus on meth
isn’t new to the DEA. Meth is America’s Own – homemade,
cheap and readily available – we are making progress but this
is going to be a long haul, which we have been fully committed to along
with our state and local partners.
Here in our neighborhoods,
our courageous DEA agents are arresting meth cooks and traffickers—5,500
of them in the past year.
We have prioritized
and deployed DEA’s Mobile Enforcement Teams to take down
meth trafficking rings.
We are training
our state and local partners to safely dismantle these toxic, volatile
meth labs -- 9,300 of them since 1998 -- and arming each officer
with $2,200 worth of equipment to raid meth labs.
DEA administered more than $18 million in funding for more than
10,000 meth lab cleanups
- Together, U.S.
and Canadian law enforcement and U.S. Attorneys drove most of the
largest “super” meth labs out of America by arresting
and prosecuting those who were supplying the bulk chemicals needed
to manufacture pound quantities of meth.
As a result, 65%
of meth now sold in America is manufactured by Mexican trafficking
organizations, and DEA is working with Mexican officials to block that
Department and DEA are providing meth training to Mexico investigators
DEA is attacking
international meth cartels by denying them necessary chemicals,
profits, and trafficking routes; by seizing their drugs and dismantling
their U.S. distribution cells; and by working with our international
partners to target meth kingpins themselves.
A little over
a week ago, we concluded Operation Three Hour Tour where we targeted
high-level Colombian and Mexican drug traffickers in the U.S. We
dismantled three major transportation cells and 27 distribution
groups and seized 155 pounds of meth – enough to give a hit
of meth to more than 200,000 people.
On a related front
-- in the U.S. and beyond our borders -- we’re denying meth manufacturers—large
and small—the necessary precursor chemicals they need to make
their poison, particularly pseudoephedrine. In Operation Wildfire alone,
we seized more than 400,000 tablets of precursors as well as 336 pounds
of pseudoephedrine powder — which would produce more than 350,000
hits of meth.
Over the past
7 years, more than 2,000 pseudoephedrine-related chemical registrations
and applications have been denied, surrendered, or withdrawn as
a result of DEA investigations.
taking this fight around the globe, because to win against meth
in places like St. Louis or Sacramento, we have to go to places
like Hong Kong—which is too often where meth cartels go for
In one international
operation, we worked with partners from Hong Kong, Mexico, and
Panama and prevented 68 million pseudoephedrine tablets from reaching
meth cartels, which could have produced more than 2 metric tons
that kind of success, DEA is forging international agreements --
between Mexico, Hong Kong and other countries -- to jointly pre-screen
pseudoephedrine shipments to ensure they are going to legitimate
Mexican companies for legitimate use and to stop those that aren’t.
Finally, the American
family room and classrooms are our most important fronts.
launches “justthinktwice.com” a cutting-edge website
devoted to and designed by teenagers to give them the hard facts
about meth and other drugs in “teenspeak,” with graphic
photos and personal stories – about how meth will steal their
future and their looks, and take control of their life. This straight
forward website is aimed at stopping young people from going down
the dark road of meth.
DEA’s Justthinktwice.com website
is exclusively aimed at our teenagers and young adults for good
reason: according to a recent study, nearly half of meth users
began during high school.
The good news
is that, since 2001, meth use has declined 25% among our teenagers.
DEA’s website will help continue that downward trend.
Channel 1 will broadcast a demonstration of the new DEA website
in 12,000 middle and high schools, reaching 8 million teenagers
and 400,000 educators.
America has been
scorched by the wildfire grip of meth. We cannot expect a cure overnight.
But, with this nationwide operation, we extinguished some of those
fires. And, DEA is fully committed to a sustained effort, here and
abroad, to beat meth back. Our country and its children deserve nothing