Homeland Security outlines plan to stop fentanyl, precursor chemicals | EUROtoday

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Homeland Security officers on Tuesday introduced a plan to improve fentanyl seizures and break up the provision chains and monetary networks fueling probably the most deadly drug disaster in U.S. historical past.

Officials mentioned the division’s investigative unit, Homeland Security Investigations, will assign extra brokers to observe shipments of precursor chemicals, primarily originating in China, used to manufacture the highly effective artificial opioid.

The company will broaden its presence in Mexico, the place the drug cartels who dominate the fentanyl commerce function, and deploy extra investigators to the U.S.-Mexico border, the place the amount of fentanyl capsules and powder flowing into the United States has boomed.

More than 100,000 Americans are dying of unlawful drug overdoses per 12 months, an all-time excessive, placing federal legislation enforcement companies below intense public strain to increase seizures and arrests.

“This is a huge priority for us,” Katrina W. Berger, director of HSI, a division of Immigration and Customs Enforcement, mentioned in an interview. “The overdose numbers are just astronomical.”

Fentanyl accounts for almost all of U.S. overdose deaths. The drug’s compact measurement makes it simple to smuggle and particularly arduous for authorities to stop.

Trafficking organizations in Mexico illegally manufacture fentanyl in clandestine labs, urgent it into tablets that resemble prescription painkillers. Smugglers usually rent U.S. residents and green-card holders to transfer bundles of capsules or powder throughout the border hidden in automobiles or their physique cavities.

The newest Customs and Border Protection statistics present U.S. authorities are on tempo to seize greater than 25,000 kilos of fentanyl in the course of the fiscal 12 months ending Sept. 30, a fivefold improve since 2020. The drug’s low cost worth is particularly worrisome to U.S. authorities: A single blue pill packing a probably deadly dose prices $2 or $3.

Homeland Security officers say HSI is the federal authorities’s finest instrument for combating the drug, as a result of the company has the power to conduct investigations alongside the complete illicit provide chain, from ports to labs to the U.S. border and within the vacation spot cities the place fentanyl is shipped.

The technique report launched Tuesday makes no particular point out of the Drug Enforcement Administration, however Berger mentioned the 2 companies work carefully and have a system to deconflict instances so that they don’t find yourself producing redundant investigations.

“We have some very unique authorities that really enable us to attack fentanyl and illicit opioids — from the international countries where the precursor chemicals come, to the transit countries where the pills are often manufactured, to the border, where they’re coming in, and then into our communities where we work with our partners,” she mentioned.

HSI officers mentioned the company will broaden its investigative work alongside the U.S.-Mexico border in anticipation of a rise in fentanyl seizures as CBP officers deploy scanning machines that may ramp up automobile inspections.

The majority of fentanyl seizures happen at border crossings in Arizona and the San Diego space, alongside smuggling corridors dominated by Mexico’s highly effective Sinaloa cartel.

HSI officers notched a win final week when Mexico extradited Ovidio Guzman, the 33-year-old son of Sinaloa kingpin Joaquin “El Chapo” Guzman, who’s serving a life sentence at a maximum-security federal jail in Colorado. U.S. authorities allege the youthful Guzman and his brothers took over a part of their father’s trafficking operation, flooding U.S. communities with narcotics.

Some of the brand new enforcement measures the company outlined are extra mundane efforts, reminiscent of a plan to arrange a cross-border monetary crimes heart to work with banks, international authorities companies and the digital firms buying and selling cryptocurrencies that can be utilized to launder drug cash.

HSI officers mentioned they’ll set up a “Chemical Industry Outreach Project” to assist personal companies establish questionable shipments, and the company will improve ties with the World Customs Organization to higher goal precursor chemicals destined for trafficking organizations.