The Department of Homeland Security and Justice and State departments are working with counterparts in China, Mexico and Central and South America.
The U.S. Department of Homeland Security has initiated an inter-agency operation that will take a more aggressive approach at stopping the flow of illicit opioids before they arrive at the nation’s doorstep.
“Through innovation, partnership and prevention, the men and women of DHS are working to curtail the flow of illicit substances at the source and at the border,” said Acting DHS Secretary Kevin McAleenan in a statement.
On March 19, President Donald Trump announced the Initiative to Stop Opioid Abuse and Reduce Drug Supply and Demand. In response, DHS border enforcement agencies have seized more fentanyl shipments than ever before.
In fiscal year 2018, Customs and Border Protection (CBP) and Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) together seized close to 5,000 pounds of fentanyl.
During the first six months of fiscal year 2019 (starting Oct. 1), ICE fentanyl seizures totaled 1,340 pounds, compared to 1,314 pounds for the same period in fiscal year 2018, while CBP’s total fentanyl seizures at ports of entry totaled more than 939 pounds, compared to 914 pounds during the same fiscal year period last year.
With the implementation of the STOP (Synthetics Trafficking and Overdose Prevention) Act, CBP also has taken more packages out of the international mail that contained fentanyl. More than 50 percent of all international packages are now being scanned, according to DHS.
To stop opioids at the source, DHS is partnering with the Justice and State departments to work with its overseas counterparts in China, Mexico and South and Central American countries, where these drugs are originating.
Since early 2018, CBP’s National Targeting Center (NTC) Counter Network Division, along with Homeland Security Investigations and CBP Attachés, have worked together to interdict small transshipment packages of fentanyl bound for the U.S.
“NTC now receives advance electronic information about packages from China, helping CBP officers better identify and interdict illicit shipments of fentanyl,” DHS said.
At the border, DHS has supplemented its fentanyl detection efforts with more than 400 specially trained CBP dogs and 65 Border Enforcement Security Task Force teams nationwide.
Earlier this year, DHS has initiated its $1.5 million Opioid Detection Challenge prize to incentivize new and innovative detection methods from private sector technology companies.