WASHINGTON, D.C. – Yesterday, White House Office of National Drug Control Policy (ONDCP) Director Dr. Rahul Gupta recognized law enforcement partners at the United States Interdiction Committee (USIC) Awards for their work to disrupt the trafficking of drugs like fentanyl and strengthen the Nation’s response to the overdose epidemic through multi-jurisdictional collaboration between law enforcement task forces. Today’s awardees from across the United State were selected from more than 100 highly qualified nominees. The work of these agencies and individuals helps advance President Biden’s National Drug Control Strategy to beat the overdose epidemic.
President Biden released the Safer America Plan, a proposal to keep communities safe and save lives. Among other initiatives, it proposes imposing tough penalties for fentanyl trafficking; investing in services like mental health and substance use disorder services to reduce the burdens on police so they can focus on violent crime; ensuring people in criminal justice settings have access to treatment; and ending sentencing disparities on crack cocaine and powder cocaine. Read the full proposal here.
“President Biden’s Strategy to beat the overdose epidemic goes after two key drivers of it: untreated addiction and drug trafficking,” said Dr. Gupta. “The law enforcement leaders in this room today have helped advance that Strategy by interdicting drugs like fentanyl that are claiming a life every five minutes around the clock, and depriving drug traffickers of their profits. On behalf of the Biden-Harris Administration, I am proud to honor their heroic efforts that have saved lives. The work law enforcement officials do every day is critical to keeping our communities healthy and safe.”
Dr. Gupta awarded the following recipients for their work in calendar year 2021 to disrupt the flow of drugs and strengthen collaboration through multi-jurisdictional law enforcement task forces:
INTERDICTION and INTELLIGENCE SUPPORT
Homeland Security Investigations (HSI) New York Dark Web and Cryptocurrency Task Force successfully targeting the illicit actors that utilized the dark web to conduct and conceal their criminal activity. In 2021, this unit seized firearms, cocaine, fentanyl, and over $1.5 million in illicit proceeds.
DETECTION and MONITORING
HSI Memphis targeted the criminal supply chains of several criminal organizations and seized kilogram quantities of methamphetamine, fentanyl, cocaine, and heroin.
U.S. Coast Guard (HITRON Jacksonville) Helicopter Interdiction Tactical Squadron (HITRON) Jacksonville is recognized for heroically interdicting two boats loaded with contraband in the Caribbean Sea, in spite of extremely hazardous nighttime flying conditions. The operation netted 1,500 kilograms of cocaine.
New Jersey HIDTA Group 3 identified a tractor trailer suspected of transporting high quantities of narcotics throughout the United States. With the assistance of the Pennsylvania State Police, the investigation resulted in the seizure of 42 kilograms of cocaine, 16 kilograms of suspected fentanyl, and disrupted a Mexican-based Drug Trafficking Organization.
HIGHWAY and RAILWAY INTERDICTION
Colorado State Patrol Trooper Matt Bowman was awarded the Highway and Railway Interdiction Award for his intuition and observations that led to the seizure of over 150 kilograms of methamphetamine concealed within an SUV.
INVESTIGATION and PROSECUTION
U.S. Postal Inspection Service (Phoenix Division) targeted a dark net site which had already contributed to the deaths of two overdose victims. Postal Inspectors successfully interdicted 24 parcels sent from the vendor of the illicit web site and discovered counterfeit pills containing fentanyl, oxycodone, and heroin, preventing the deaths of additional victims.
Federal Bureau of Investigations conducted a global operation which netted more than 42 metric tons of illicit drugs.
MAJOR CAMPAIGN and STRATEGIC PLANNING
HSI Seattle HIDTA Task Force was recognized for their sustained campaign to disrupt transnational criminal organizations engaged in the manufacture and distribution of synthetic opioids and counterfeit pharmaceuticals.
SPECIAL RECOGNITION/COUNTER-NARCOTICS FORCE ENABLES
HSI was recognized for targeting the supply chains of transnational criminal organizations throughout South and Central America.
The ONDCP USIC Award Program was established in 2003 to recognize the superior efforts and achievements of agencies and individuals on the front-lines of drug interdiction. This program has evolved to recognize individuals and units (teams) who have excelled in addressing illicit drug trafficking an everchanging, dynamic drug environment. The award categories and selection criteria encompass the entire interdiction continuum.
Read the Biden-Harris Administration’s inaugural National Drug Control Strategy HERE.
Read the fact sheet on the Strategy HERE.
For more information on the award recipients, please contact Kelly.A.Scully@ondcp.eop.gov