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Press Release

Statement From Attorney General Sessions on the Drug Enforcement Administration’s 2018 National Drug Threat Assessment

For Immediate Release
Office of Public Affairs

Today, the Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) released its 2018 National Drug Threat Assessment, a comprehensive, strategic assessment of the illicit drug threats facing the United States. Attorney General Sessions made the following statement about the report:

“This new report from the DEA confirms that transnational drug cartels and foreign drug labs, working with street gangs, are flooding our communities with drugs like heroin, fentanyl, cocaine, and methamphetamines,” Attorney General Sessions said. “But under the Trump Administration, we are hammering these groups.  I have restored commonsense criminal charging and sentencing policies with our prosecutors, surged resources to jurisdictions facing some of the highest levels of violence and drug abuse, and targeted enforcement against the most violent offenders and organizations. Last year, the average federal sentence for drug trafficking rose, and we are already seeing encouraging results. Preliminary data from the CDC shows that drug overdose deaths actually began to decline in late 2017 and opioid prescriptions fell significantly. We also saw an actual decline in homicides and violent crimes in 2017 after increases in 2015 and 2016. Law enforcement is crime prevention—and that's what we're doing every day across America.  The Department of Justice will continue to focus resolutely on drug traffickers and protect the American people.”


According to the report’s summary: “Illicit drugs, as well as the transnational and domestic criminal organizations who traffic them, continue to represent significant threats to public health, law enforcement, and national security in the United States. Drug poisoning deaths are the leading cause of injury death in the United States; they are currently at their highest ever recorded level and, every year since 2011, have outnumbered deaths by firearms, motor vehicle crashes, suicide, and homicide. In 2016, approximately 174 people died every day from drug poisoning.”

As the report also notes:

“National and neighborhood-based street gangs and prison gangs continue to dominate the market for the street-sales and distribution of illicit drugs in their respective territories throughout the country. Struggle for control of these lucrative drug trafficking territories continues to be the largest factor fueling the street-gang violence facing local communities. . . .  Gangs’ desire to secure the largest share of the profits and the most lucrative territories for themselves drives violent turf wars that often result in the murder or attempted murder of rival gang members and drug dealers. Firearm-related violence will likely continue to be associated with the illicit drug trade due to the constant turf wars between gangs vying for control of territory. . . . Street gangs are increasingly distributing fentanyl and fentanyl-laced products as the drugs continue to flow into the United States. The monies involved with its street sale, and the demand for fentanyl by the consumers of illicit drugs, encourages gangs to become more involved with selling fentanyl.”

Updated November 2, 2018

Press Release Number: 18-1443