Biden-Harris Administration has invested significant funding for law enforcement to address drug trafficking and enabled historic seizures of illicit fentanyl
Washington, D.C. – Today, White House Office of National Drug Control Policy (ONDCP) Director Dr. Rahul Gupta recognized law enforcement partners at the Annual United States Interdiction Coordinator (USIC) Awards for their work to disrupt the trafficking of illicit drugs and strengthen the nation’s response to the overdose epidemic. Recipients from across the United States were selected for their work to advance President Biden’s National Drug Control Strategy by improving the coordination between law enforcement task forces and maximizing the impact of each interdiction. In his most recent State of the Union address, President Biden called for a major surge to stop fentanyl production, sale, and trafficking. The President’s FY24 budget requests a historic $46.1 billion for National Drug Control Program agencies, including more funding for efforts to reduce the supply of illicit drugs like fentanyl and stop drug trafficking.
“President Biden is committed to hitting drug traffickers where it hurts the most: their profits,” said Dr. Gupta. “The actions taken by the brave women and men being recognized today have done exactly that. These law enforcement leaders have made their communities and our country safer by permanently removing these drugs from the supply before they can hurt Americans. Their heroic work represents the best-of-the-best and by recognizing them at the White House today, we are showing just how grateful our nation is for their service and critical partnership in beating the overdose epidemic.”
The ONDCP USIC Award Program recognizes the superior efforts and achievements of agencies and individuals on the front-lines of drug interdiction. The interdictions occurred across the drug trafficking supply chain, including cyber and illicit proceeds flowing back into the drug trafficking organization networks.
President Biden has made disrupting the illicit fentanyl supply chain a top public health and public safety priority. The Biden-Harris Administration has invested significant amounts of funding for law enforcement efforts to address illicit fentanyl trafficking and enabled historic seizures of illicit fentanyl on the border. Under President Biden’s leadership, there are now a record number of personnel working to secure the border, and in just the last year Customs and Border Protection has seized a historic 260,000 pounds of illicit drugs primarily at ports of entry on our border, including nearly 15,000 pounds of fentanyl. These efforts are part of the Biden-Harris Administration’s comprehensive, whole-of-government strategy to tackle the nation’s overdose epidemic. As a key part of the President’s Unity Agenda, the Administration has also made historic investments in critical public health interventions including research, prevention, treatment, and recovery support services.
Dr. Gupta awarded the following recipients for their work on the frontlines of the overdose epidemic in calendar year 2022 to disrupt the flow of illicit drug trafficking:
U.S. Postal Inspection Service/Palm Beach Narcotics Task Force – Dark Web SYNTROPY Investigation
This was a non-traditional national narcotics investigation into a dark web vendor that was distributing large quantities of fentanyl, heroin, MDMA, and cocaine. The online vendor was directly responsible for at least one overdose death in Utah. A unified interagency effort between the U.S. Postal Inspection Service (USPIS), Homeland Security Investigations HSI, Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA), Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI), U.S. Postal Service, Office of Inspector General (USPS-OIG), and the Palm Beach County Sheriff’s Office led to a dismantlement of the vendor and the arrests of the suspects associated with the website.
Drug Enforcement Administration HIDTA 2 – Operation Titan Fall
Towards the end of 2021, the DEA initiated Operation Titan Fall, a long-term investigation into a violent drug trafficking organization based out of Florida that was responsible for distributing kilogram quantities of illegal drugs. Despite the sophistication of the Drug Trafficking Organization (DTO), the investigation resulted in the dismantlement of the criminal organization and the seizure of dozens of firearms, over 100 kilograms of cocaine, fentanyl, and heroin, and the arrests of 23 individuals.
Homeland Security Investigations (HSI) El Paso – Operation Chain Breaker
Operation Chain Breaker is a groundbreaking investigation that targets illicit Chinese pill press manufacturers and the Mexican transnational criminal organizations that utilize this equipment to produce fake pills containing fentanyl. Operation Chain Breaker is HSI-led and is supported by the USPIS, Internal Revenue Service – Criminal Investigations (IRS-CI), Customs and Border Protection (CBP), and other federal, state, and local law enforcement partners.
Los Angeles High Intensity Drug Trafficking Areas (HIDTA) VIPER Team – Riverside County Sheriff’s Department, Deputy Ned Hyduke
On October 12, 2022, Riverside County Sheriff’s Department Deputy Ned Hyduke stopped a vehicle on Interstate 5 and discovered 113 pounds of fake fentanyl pills, over 17.5 pounds of fentanyl powder, 2.5 pounds of Xanax pills, and 2 pounds of ecstasy pills. Furthermore, intelligence gained from the traffic stop led to a second vehicle interdiction, where 231 pounds of methamphetamine was concealed.
Homeland Security Investigations Chicago, Financial Investigations Group – Operation Falling Star
Operation Falling Star was a comprehensive investigation of the illicit activities of a Chinese money laundering organization that was working for a Mexican transnational criminal organization linked to the Jalisco New Generation Cartel (CJNG).
Drug Enforcement Administration Hampton Post – Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (FARC) Investigation
This investigation centered on an extremely violent faction of FARC, which resulted in dozens of arrests and the seizure of thousands of kilograms of cocaine and marijuana.
Homeland Security Investigations San Diego — Costa Pacifico Money Laundering Task Force
In 2021, the HSI San Diego Costa Pacifico Money Laundering Task Force initiated Operation Pipe Dream, an investigation into a drug trafficking organization based out of Tijuana, Mexico, and San Diego, California. During the course of the operation, members of the Task Force seized guns, kilogram-quantities of cocaine, methamphetamine, fentanyl, and discovered a subterranean cross-border tunnel between Mexico and the U.S.
Customs and Border Protection Air and Marine Operations Caribbean Branch
On November 17, 2022, CBP AMO targeted two private vessels on course to Puerto Rico that were suspected of smuggling cocaine. During the course of the interdiction, one of the vessels sped away, while the captain of the other vessel opened fire with a semi-automatic pistol at the CBP AMO vessel. A gunfight between CBP AMO Agents and drug smugglers ensued, with two Agents being wounded and one Agent succumbing to his injuries. However, due to the courageous efforts of responding CBP AMO Agents and United States Coast Guard personnel, both smuggling vessels were interdicted and the suspects arrested, with over 2,800 pounds of cocaine seized on board the smuggling vessels.
Joint Interagency Task Force South – Tactical Communications Division
In 2022, Joint Interagency Task Force South (JIATF-S) developed and fielded a secure communications architecture that helped partner nations in coordinating counternarcotics efforts. Better coordination led to increased capability, especially in interdicting bulk cocaine destined for the U.S.
Watch the full USIC Awards Ceremony HERE.
Read about the Biden-Harris Administration’s efforts to crack down on illicit fentanyl supply chains HERE.
Read the Biden-Harris Administration’s National Drug Control Strategy HERE.