NEW ORLEANS – On Thursday, Attorney General William P. Barr and Drug Enforcement Administration Acting Administrator Timothy J. Shea announced the results of Operation Crystal Shield, DEA’s six-month-long effort targeting the command and control elements of Mexican cartels that operate major methamphetamine “transportation hubs” in the United States.
At a press conference in Phoenix, Arizona, Attorney General Barr and Acting Administrator Shea announced that in just six months, Operation Crystal Shield generated a total of more than 750 investigations, resulting in nearly 1,840 arrests and the seizure of more than 28,560 pounds of methamphetamine, $43.3 million in drug proceeds, and 284 firearms.
In the DEA New Orleans Field Division alone, which covers the states of Louisiana, Mississippi, Alabama, and Arkansas, DEA conducted 115 investigations, made 411 arrests, and seized 723 pounds of methamphetamine, $4 million in drug proceeds, and 23 firearms.
“In the months leading up to the launch of Operation Crystal Shield, communities across the
United States experienced a surge of methamphetamine,” said Acting Administrator Shea. “The COVID pandemic locked down many communities and impacted legitimate businesses, but the drug trade continued. Under difficult conditions, DEA – along with our federal, state, and local partners – never stopped working as we helped stem the flow of methamphetamine onto our streets, even as violent drug traffickers sought new ways to smuggle it into the United States. The success of Operation Crystal Shield reflects the devotion of DEA and our partners to protect our communities from the scourge of drug trafficking and violent crime under any
DEA Special Agent in Charge Brad L. Byerley said, “Illegal and dangerous drugs, particularly methamphetamine, are destructive poisons that can cause terrible harm to the quality of life in any community. Drug trafficking in itself is one of the primary drivers of violent crime across the United States.
DEA began Operation Crystal Shield with a focus on those drug dealers who prey upon the good people in this country by selling drugs and committing acts of violence, spreading fear and destruction wherever they go. Together with our law enforcement counterparts, we are seizing their profits, shutting down their distribution networks, and putting dealers where they belong – behind bars. DEA is committed to its partnerships with our Federal, State and Local law enforcement allies in our ongoing efforts to make our communities safer and a better place for our families and children.”
DEA launched Operation Crystal Shield on February 20, after identifying nine major methamphetamine trafficking hubs: Atlanta, Dallas, El Paso, Houston, Los Angeles, New Orleans, Phoenix, San Diego and St. Louis. Together these nine cities accounted for more than 75 percent of methamphetamine seized by DEA in 2019. Under this operation, DEA directed enforcement resources to these cities where methamphetamine is often trafficked in bulk and then distributed across the country.
Operation Crystal Shield leveraged existing DEA initiatives that target major drug trafficking networks, including the Mexican cartels that are responsible for the overwhelming majority of methamphetamine trafficked into and within the United States. From FY 2017 to FY 2019, DEA domestic seizures of methamphetamine increased 127 percent from 49,507 pounds to 112,146 pounds. During the same timeframe, the number of DEA arrests related to methamphetamine increased by nearly 20 percent.