PHOENIX (KOLD News 13) - A Drug Enforcement Agency-led effort known as Operation Crystal Shield resulted in nearly 1,840 arrests and the seizure of more than 28,560 pounds of methamphetamine.
Attorney General William Barr joined DEA Acting Administrator Timothy Shea in Phoenix on Thursday, Sept. 10, to announce the results of the nearly seven-month operation that targeted elements of Mexican cartels operating so-called transportation hubs throughout the United States.
In addition to the arrests and seized drugs, the operation led to more than 750 investigations that resulted in $43.3 million in drug proceeds and 284 firearms.
Operation Crystal Shield was launched on Feb. 20 in nine cities that accounted for more than 75 percent of the methamphetamine seized by the DEA in 2019. The DEA partnered with other federal, state and local law enforcement in Phoenix, San Diego, Los Angeles, El Paso, Houston, Dallas, New Orleans, St. Louis and Atlanta to target the transportation networks behind the drug shipments.
“The COVID pandemic locked down many communities and impacted legitimate businesses, but the drug trade continued," Shea said. "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.”
Barr called the results of the operation “astounding.”
“Methamphetamine is a brutal drug linked to violent crime and responsible for far too many fatal overdoses,” he said. “The astounding results of Operation Crystal Shield clearly demonstrate the commitment by the DEA and our state and local partners to prevent this deadly drug from reaching the streets of our communities. ”
Operation Crystal Shield leveraged existing DEA initiatives that target major drug trafficking networks, including the Mexican cartels responsible for virtually all 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 time, the number of DEA arrests related to methamphetamine increased by nearly 20 percent.