DOJ and DEA Announce
AUG 31-- (WASHINGTON, D.C.) Attorney General Alberto R. Gonzales and Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) Administrator Karen P. Tandy announced today the results of the DEA-led “Operation Wildfire,” the first-ever nationally coordinated law enforcement initiative designed to continue the fight against the spread of methamphetamine use and abuse in the United States. More than 200 U.S. cities participated in Operation Wildfire, resulting in the arrest of 427 individuals. The DEA and their law enforcement partners removed 30 children from meth labs raided during Operation Wildfire.
“There is no drug that has more consequences than meth – for the abuser, for the trafficker, for the environment, for communities, and for the innocent children who live in filth and neglect,” said DEA Administrator Karen P. Tandy. “The meth crisis has ruined families, destroyed neighborhoods and put a tremendous strain on all levels of law enforcement and social services. This historic enforcement effort illustrates our commitment to extinguishing this plague and protecting innocent Americans from the harmful ripple effects meth leaves behind.”
Operation Wildfire follows the President’s national strategy to battle the meth drug plague as announced last week by Attorney General Alberto R. Gonzales in Nashville, Tennessee.
“ The scourge of methamphetamine demands strong partnerships and innovative solutions to fight the devastation it leaves behind, ” said Attorney General Alberto R. Gonzales. “Through Operation Wildfire, we have joined with state and local law enforcement to successfully pursue meth peddlers and producers in over 200 cities. The Department of Justice is committed to using every available resource to ensure that our streets and neighborhoods are safe and that the methamphetamine problem is brought to an end. ”
Within the DEA Seattle Field Division, agents and officers from more than a dozen law enforcement agencies aggressively targeted methamphetamine trafficking organizations throughout its four state region, including Alaska, Idaho, Oregon, and Washington. These enforcement operations resulted in the execution of 21 Federal and State search warrants and the arrest of 67 individuals, including 12 who had prior methamphetamine-related arrests. Within the DEA Seattle Field Division, agents and officers seized more than 44 pounds of methamphetamine, much of which was crystal methamphetamine (ice), as well as other narcotics. Additionally, more than $300,000 in cash and real property was seized. Of significance was the seizure of two dozen weapons during these enforcement operations, thus highlighting the inherent violence associated with methamphetamine trafficking.
DEA Special Agent in Charge Rodney Benson stated that “the Northwest region of the United States, in particular, has seen the adverse affects methamphetamine causes our communities. DEA and our partners in law enforcement engaged in enforcement operations, demand reduction presentations, and chemical control initiatives in more than three dozen cities across our area of operations in an effort to address this serious threat. Operation Wildfire may have ended, but our efforts to address the methamphetamine problem will continue.”
Operation Wildfire was successful, due in part, to the varied law enforcement and drug diversion tactics practiced by the DEA and their law enforcement partners, including: undercover meth purchases; meth laboratory identification and seizures; execution of search and arrest warrants; identification and dismantlement of large-scale meth trafficking organizations; deployment of DEA Mobile Enforcement Teams to assist state and local authorities in their meth investigations; and, the investigations of pseudoephedrine importers, grey-market wholesalers, and retailers.
While the past week represents the largest single enforcement effort against meth, it is far from DEA’s first. For instance, last week the DEA announced the dismantling of three major drug transportation organizations that brought in, each month, enough meth to supply more than 22,000 users residing in the United States.
The widespread availability of meth has made it accessible and appealing to U.S. teenagers. In conjunction with this enforcement effort, DEA launched a new website today as part of its efforts to raise public awareness about the dangers of the drug. The anti-drug website, www.justthinktwice.com, gives teens, and their parents, the straight facts about methamphetamine and it is not a pretty picture. The realities of meth’s physical and emotional tolls are plainly described and accompanied by before and after photos of meth users, which graphically depict the ravages of meth on the user and make a strong statement about its consequences.
Nationwide, Operation Wildfire resulted in the seizure of 209.48 pounds of methamphetamine, 188 pounds of precursor chemicals used to make the deadly drug, and $255,570 in cash. In addition, 56 clandestine laboratories and 28 vehicles were seized, 123 weapons were found, and 30 endangered children were removed from their meth environments.
Fact Sheet included separately that includes specific cities involved