DEA launches “Project Wave Breaker” to stop spread of fentanyl

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FILE – This photo provided by the U.S. Attorneys Office for Utah and introduced as evidence in a 2019 trial shows fentanyl-laced fake oxycodone pills collected during an investigation. In a resumption of a brutal trend, nearly 71,000 Americans died of drug overdoses in 2019 according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, a new record high that predates the COVID-19 crisis. The numbers were driven by fentanyl and similar synthetic opioids, which accounted for 36,500 overdose deaths. (U.S. Attorneys Office for Utah via AP)

DETROIT, Mich. (WLNS) – The Drug Enforcement Agency (DEA) announced on Wednesday a new initiative: Project Wave Breaker.

Project Wave Breaker aims to disrupt the flow of fentanyl, a synthetic opioid, into the United States.

The Project aims to work with the Detroit Field Division and will target “Mexican transnational criminal organizations,” which the DEA says are the primary suppliers and distributors of fentanyl in the US.

“While a major entry point for fentanyl is the Southwest border, the cartels are spreading their poison into communities across the Nation,” said DEA Acting Administrator D. Christopher Evans in a press release.

“Through this initiative, we’re tackling a very real public health, public safety, and national security threat, identifying the most egregious street-level networks in our communities and working our way up through the supply chain.”

The cartel most associated with spreading fentanyl is the Sinaloa Cartel, the report says.

“Fentanyl remains a significant threat in Michigan, Ohio and Northern Kentucky. We are seeing kilogram quantities flooding our neighborhoods and it is largely coming from violent transnational cartels in Mexico like the Sinaloa and Jalisco New Generation Cartel (CJNG),” said Special Agent in Charge Keith Martin in the release.

The 11 divisions participating in Project Wave Breaker are responsible for seizing 85% of the fentanyl procured by the DEA in 2020.

The divisions are: Phoenix, New York, San Diego, New England, Los Angeles, Chicago, Detroit, St. Louis, San Francisco, Houston, and El Paso.

According to the CDC, over 87,200 people died from overdoses last year, the largest year on record.

According to the DEA:

Fentanyl is a synthetic opioid that is approximately 50 times more potent than heroin and 100
times more potent that morphine.

Of counterfeit pills tested in DEA laboratories, one in four pills made with fentanyl contained a
potentially lethal dose.

A kilogram of fentanyl can contain 500,000 potentially lethal doses. Last year, the eleven
divisions participating in Project Wave Breaker seized a combined total of 2,316 kilograms of
fentanyl (more than a billion potentially lethal doses).

The seizure of fentanyl-laced pills along the Southwest border increased more than 89 percent
from January 2019 to December 2020.

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