Methamphetamine injection|Stock Photo Methamphetamine injection|Stock Photo

Federal officials say 75% of meth is trafficked through these eight major cities.

Federal authorities announced plans to target Phoenix and seven other cities they consider to be trafficking hubs for methamphetamine in a new effort to stop drugs from entering the U.S.

Drug Enforcement Administration Acting Administrator Uttam Dhillon announced last week that the agency will be directing drug enforcement resources to eight cities where bulk shipments of meth are trafficked into. Dhillon said he believes that “by reducing the supply of meth, we reduce the violence, addiction, and death it spreads.”

The eight cities named are: Atlanta, Dallas, El Paso, Houston, Los Angeles, New Orleans, Phoenix, and St. Louis. More than 75% of all meth seized by the DEA originates from one of the cities targeted in “Operation Crystal Shield.”

The amount of meth confiscated in Arizona has been on the rise for several years. Seizures doubled from 2017 to 2018, according to data obtained by 12 News from the DEA. Last year, more than 31,000 pounds of meth was seized in Arizona.

The large amounts of drugs coming into the state have resulted in a series of major drug busts. Last month, the Arizona Department of Public Safety announced the biggest seizure in the agency’s history. The bust occurred when an officer performing a routine traffic stop found an estimated 362 pounds of meth worth $4.1 million inside the vehicle.

Earlier this week, a group of law enforcement officers from various agencies seized another 220 pounds of meth near Kingman, Arizona. The officers also found 370 pounds of cocaine, taking an estimated $12.7 million worth of drugs out of circulation.

Apolonio Ruiz, Jr., acting special agent in charge of DEA in Arizona, said seizures like these  indicate that meth isn’t going away without a fight.

“The DEA Phoenix Field Division has declared methamphetamine its greatest drug threat as the Mexican cartels continue to produce more methamphetamine in greater quantities, and more citizens overdose from the drug across the U.S.,” Ruiz said in a statement.  “Our agents will continue to pursue those traffickers who peddle these dangerous drugs and through our justice system, hold them accountable for the community they destroy.” 

According to the DEA, almost all meth entering the country comes through the U.S.-Mexico border. The amount of meth confiscated nationwide has increased by 127%, from 49,507 pounds to 112,146 pounds between fiscal years 2017 and 2019. In December alone, more than 16,000 pounds of meth were seized at border crossings.

Officials say resources have been allocated to fund Operation Crystal Shield through the end of the year. Local authorities have been instructed to monitor the reactions of drug cartels to determine the effectiveness of the operation.

Last month, Medical Director of Banner Poison & Drug Information Center Dr. Daniel Brooks told AZFamily that “meth is a huge problem, and has been for a while.”

He noted that while opioids have made headlines over the past few years, meth remains a less visible and deadly problem.