DEA operation intensifies efforts to combat drug-related violence

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Source: MGN Online

LOUISVILLE, Ky. (WTVQ/Press Release) – Drug Enforcement Administration Acting Administrator Timothy J. Shea announced the agency has launched an intensified effort to help reduce violent crime.

Under this initiative, called Project Safeguard, DEA will identify and prioritize ongoing drug trafficking investigations with a nexus to violent crime.

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“Drug trafficking and violent crime are inextricably linked,” said Acting Administrator Shea.  “From the extreme levels of violence in Mexican cartels, to the open air drug markets in American cities, drug traffickers employ violence, fear, and intimidation to ply their trade.  Neighborhoods across our country are terrorized by violent drug trafficking organizations that have little regard for human life, and profit from the pain and suffering of our people. Along with our law enforcement partners, DEA is committed to safeguarding the health and safety of our communities.”

“For the dedicated men and women of DEA, this fight is personal,” said Special Agent in Charge Todd Scott, head of DEA’s Louisville Division.  “Our folks don’t just work in these communities, we live here and we’re raising our families here, too.  We all have a right to live in relative safety and DEA will continue to take up this fight until we’ve driven out or bring to justice those who threaten our communities with drugs and violence.”

Working in collaboration with federal, state, and local partners, including the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives and the U.S. Marshals Service, DEA’s Project Safeguard will comprise three focus areas to address the growing violent crime threat in many cities across the United States:

  • Disrupting, dismantling, and destroying the most significant violent drug trafficking organizations throughout the United States;
  • Increasing collaboration with ATF to ensure effective federal prosecution of firearms traffickers associated with drug trafficking organizations; and
  • Prioritizing the capture of DEA fugitives who employ violence as part of drug trafficking.

The traffickers that flood our communities with deadly drugs, including opioids, heroin, fentanyl, meth and cocaine, are often the same criminals responsible for the high rates of assault, murder, and gang

activity in our cities.  These criminals employ fear, violence, and intimidation to traffic drugs, and in doing so, exacerbate a drug crisis that claims more than 70,000 American lives every year.  DEA is committed to treating these crimes as homicides, where appropriate.

In recent months, violent crime has spiked in numerous cities and regions around the country, and drug trafficking is responsible, in part, for this violence.  Across the Louisville Division, which covers Kentucky, Tennessee and West Virginia, investigators have seen an uptick in drug- and gun-related violence.

DEA is actively going after those organizations and individuals responsible, to include Mexican Drug Cartels and violent criminal street gangs, in an effort to combat these issues.

Since it began in August 2020, Project Safeguard has resulted in eight cases, 14 arrests – including three DEA fugitives, nearly 40 seized firearms, over $450 thousand in seized assets, and 37.59 kilograms of seized controlled substances in the Louisville Division.