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New DEA initiative targets methamphetamine ‘transportation hubs’

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The U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration has announced a new initiative -- Operation Crystal Shield -- that will be targeting methamphetamine "transportation hubs."

Those are places where meth gets trafficked in bulk before it's sent out across the county, including spots in Washington state where meth seizures were up 162 percent last year.  The DEA says the meth is coming to Washington state, Oregon and Idaho from hubs in Los Angeles, Phoenix and El Paso.

Agents in the Northwest reached their all-time record, bringing in more than 3,200 pounds of the deadly drug in 2019.

"The increased volume of high grade methamphetamine flooding our Pacific Northwest neighborhoods coupled with increased overdose rates is alarming, said DEA Seattle Field Office Special Agent in Charge Keith Weis.  "The methamphetamine that's coming up is coming up from transportation hub cities in 10-50 pound shipments," he added. 

The DEA gave us a look at one major piece of this operation -- a bust that has a street value in the millions.

Agents seized more than 1,300 pounds of meth in a lab near the Atlanta airport, where raw materials smuggled in from Mexico were being cooked into enough doses for 2.3 million people.

"It's a staggering amount of drugs. I know we often display drugs, but I don't... I want you to understand the gravity of how much we seized at one place," said Robert Murphy, Special Agent in Charge for the DEA's Atlanta division.

The estimated street value of the haul is roughly $6 million.

“For decades, methamphetamine has been a leading cause of violence and addiction – a drug threat that has never gone away,” said Acting Administrator Uttam Dhillon. “With a 22 percent increase in methamphetamine-related overdose deaths, now is the time to act, and DEA is leading the way with a surge of interdiction efforts and resources, targeting regional transportation hubs throughout the United States. By reducing the supply of meth, we reduce the violence, addiction, and death it spreads.”

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