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‘Operation Crystal Shield’ results in seizure of more than 28,000 pounds of meth

A nationwide effort to thwart trafficking of methamphetamine resulted in the seizure of...
A nationwide effort to thwart trafficking of methamphetamine resulted in the seizure of thousands of pounds of drugs, and millions of dollars, and numerous arrests.(DEA)
Published: Sep. 10, 2020 at 3:51 PM CDT
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WICHITA, Kan. (KWCH) - U.S. Attorney William Barr and Drug Enforcement Administration Acting Administrator Timothy Shea on Thursday announced results of Operation Crystal Shield, “a six-month-long effort targeting the command and control elements of Mexican cartels that operate major methamphetamine ‘transportation hubs’ in the United States."

At a press conference in Phoenix, Barr and Shea announced that in six months, the operation generated more than 750 investigations, resulting in nearly 1,840 arrests and the seizure of more than 28,560 pounds of methamphetamine, $43.3 million in drug proceeds, and 284 firearms.

The DEA launched Operation Crystal Shield on Feb. 20 after identifying nine major methamphetamine traffic hubs: Atlanta, Dallas, El Paso, Houston, Los Angeles, New Orleans, Phoenix, San Diego, and St. Louis. The St. Louis Division includes Missouri, Kansas and the southern district of Illinois.

Altogether, the nine divisions account for more than 75 percent of meth seized by the DEA in 2019, the agency said. With Operation Crystal Shield, the DEA said it directed enforcement resources for the regions where meth is often trafficked in bulk, then distributed across the country.

“In the months leading up to the launch of Operation Crystal Shield, communities across the United States experienced a surge of methamphetamine,” Acting Administrator Shea said. “The COVID pandemic locked down many communities and impacted legitimate businesses, but the drug trade continued. Under difficult conditions, DEA – along with our federal, state, and local partners – never stopped working as we helped stem the flow of methamphetamine onto our streets, even as violent drug traffickers sought new ways to smuggle it into the United States. The success of Operation Crystal Shield reflects the devotion of DEA and our partners to protect our communities from the scourge of drug trafficking and violent crime under any circumstances.”

In the St. Louis Divison, DEA agents conducted 54 investigations, made 118 arrests, seized 556 pounds of meth and more than $2 million in drug proceeds.

“Our efforts in this operation focused on the transshipment of methamphetamine through the highways that cross through the Midwest,” said Special Agent in Charge William J. Callahan, head of the St. Louis Division. “Being in the heart of the country means that drug traffickers are using the highway system to move their drugs from the Southwest border, not only to the cities located in our region but also to those on the East Coast. Drug traffickers transport their illegally-gained cash back to Mexico, and the seizure of those funds severely impacts the command and control of the drug organization.”

Callahan said in addition to targeting meth trafficking through the highway system, “drug trafficking leaders from the Southwest border and West Coast routinely utilized the U.S. Postal Service and other commercial parcel shipping businesses.”

“Our investigators partnered with federal, state and local law enforcement throughout the region to discover traffickers who utilized this method, and disrupt the methamphetamine supply," he said.

From 2017 to 2019, the DEA reported domestic seizures of meth increased by 127 percent from 49,507 pounds to 112,146 pounds.

'During the same timeframe, the number of DEA arrests related to methamphetamine increased by nearly 20 percent," the agency reported.

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