Controlling drug trafficking and distribution is a significant challenge for law enforcement agencies, considering the fact that the way drugs are being sold and distributed is continuously evolving. The 2017 World Drug Report highlighted the changing landscape of the illicit drug trade. New technologies like the dark web and even Facebook, and the emergence of horizontal networks and smaller groups as new players, are changing the face of the drug supply chain. These changes call for countries to adapt to the ever-changing threats and involve non-traditional sectors in the fight against drug trafficking. 2017 witnessed record-breaking anti-drug operations, some of which are mentioned below:
12 tons of U.S.-bound cocaine seized in Colombia’s largest single operation
On Nov. 8, 2017, security forces in Colombia seized 12 tons of cocaine buried across four banana plantations in the northern part of the country. Colombian President Juan Manuel Santos called it the largest single operation for drug seizure in the country’s history. The drugs had a street value of $360 million and were found close to routes used for trafficking cocaine to the U.S.
Record drug seizures by US Coast Guard
It was a record-breaking year for drug seizures by the U.S. Coast Guard. According to the Department of Justice (DOJ), 455,034 pounds of cocaine worth over $6.1 billion dollars were intercepted till September 2017 (the fiscal year end), with nearly 600 suspected smugglers being apprehended and turned over to federal authorities for prosecution.
The Coast Guard subsequently undertook additional seizure operations. On Nov. 10, 2017, more than 1,900 pounds of cocaine, worth over $44 million, were seized off the Pacific coast of South America. Four days later, on Nov. 14, Coast Guard cutters offloaded $300 million worth of cocaine and heroin in Port Everglades after seizing them in international waters along Mexico and Central America. The interception of the U.S.-bound drugs was considered “a very significant disruption” in the supply chain of transnational criminal organization.
Multi-million dollar heroin ring busted in San Fernando Valley
On Dec. 13, 2017, the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) raided multiple counties in California and busted a heroin ring which earned $250,000 a week packaging and selling high-quality cocaine and heroin. The drug ring, described as extremely sophisticated, operated like a pizza delivery business. According to Will Torrence, the DEA’s resident agent-in-charge of the Ventura County office, the volume was “enormous.”
Closure of AlphaBay, the largest dark web marketplace for illicit drugs
A co-ordinated operation by law enforcement agencies in the U.S., Canada and Thailand led to the closure of AlphaBay, the largest dark web marketplace for illicit drugs, on July 20, 2017. Information supplied by Europol indicated that 250,000 illegal narcotics and other toxic chemicals had separate listings on the website. According to Attorney General Jeff Sessions, it was possibly “one of the most important criminal investigations of the year.”
Crackdown on illegal online pharmacies
In September 2017, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) participated in Operation Pangea X, an Interpol-led effort against rogue online pharmacies. The operation, which involved teams from a record 123 countries, cracked down on over 500 websites, issued warning letters to 401 operators and seized nearly 100 domain names. FDA Commissioner Dr. Scott Gottlieb said, “This easy and illegal availability of these controlled substances fuels the misuse and abuse of opioids.”
Treatment for drug addiction
In spite of all these efforts by the law enforcement agencies to control the opioid epidemic, statistics cannot be ignored. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), 2016 alone saw 64,000 deaths attributed to drug overdoses. This is the largest ever annual jump in the number of overdose deaths.
Sovereign Health, a leading substance abuse and behavioral health treatment provider in the U.S., offers the best chances of recovery by combining traditional clinical approaches with new modalities. The drug addiction treatment programs at our state-of-the-art treatment centers offer a wide range of holistic approaches like detox programs, medications, psychotherapies and recovery management programs to help patients recover. To learn more about our drug addiction rehab centers, call our 24/7 helpline number or chat online with a representative.