SAN FRANCISCO – The Drug Enforcement Administration announced a new initiative, Operation Overdrive, aimed at combatting the rising rates of drug-related violent crime and overdose deaths plaguing American communities.  Last fall, DEA initiated a data-driven approach using national crime statistics and CDC data to identify hot spots of drug-related violence and overdose deaths across the country, in order to devote its law enforcement resources to where they will have the most impact: the communities where criminal drug networks are causing the most harm.

Operation Overdrive, which launched February 1, 2022, uses a data-driven, intelligence-led approach to identify and dismantle criminal drug networks operating in areas with the highest rates of violence and overdoses.  DEA, working in partnership with its fellow federal, state, and local law enforcement agencies, has mapped the threats and initiated enforcement operations against those networks in 34 locations across 23 states in the initial phase of Operation Overdrive.

Today, the United States faces an unprecedented overdose epidemic claiming 275 lives every day.  Violence, often associated with drug-related activity, is also rising sharply nationwide: in 2020, homicides increased a record 30 percent, and 77 percent of the murders in the United States were committed with a firearm.  In 2021, DEA and its law enforcement partners seized more than 8,700 firearms connected to investigations of drug trafficking organizations.

Operation Overdrive revealed alarming trends about the networks that DEA has mapped. The vast majority of identified criminal drug networks are engaged in gun violence. A majority of identified criminal drug networks sell fentanyl or methamphetamine. And almost all of the identified criminal drug networks that sell those deadly synthetic drugs (fentanyl or methamphetamine) are also engaged in violent gun crimes.

“DEA’s objective is clear,” said DEA Administrator Anne Milgram. “DEA will bring all it has to bear to make our communities safer and healthier, and to reverse the devastating trends of drug-related violence and overdoses plaguing our Nation. The gravity of these threats requires a data-driven approach to pinpoint the most dangerous networks threatening our communities, and leveraging our strongest levers across federal, state, and local partners to bring them down.”

“As evidenced in many of our investigations there is a symbiotic relationship between drug trafficking and guns,” said DEA Special Agent in Charge Wade R. Shannon. “We have identified hot spots where overdoses and violent crime have caused the most harm to Oakland neighborhoods. DEA and our law enforcement counterparts will be diligent in our efforts to prevent the flow of deadly drugs and weapons into these areas in an effort to save lives.” 

Operation Overdrive Phase I locations:

Atlanta, Georgia; Baltimore, Maryland; Baton Rouge, Louisiana; Bronx, New York; Buffalo, New York; Camden, New Jersey; Chattanooga, Tennessee; Chicago, Illinois; Cincinnati, Ohio; Cleveland, Ohio; Columbia, South Carolina; Dayton, Ohio; Detroit, Michigan; Flint, Michigan; Indianapolis, Indiana; Jackson, Mississippi; Kansas City, Missouri; Little Rock, Arkansas; Memphis, Tennessee; Miami, Florida; Milwaukee, Wisconsin; New Orleans, Louisiana; Newark, New Jersey; Oakland, California; Peoria, Illinois; Philadelphia, Pennsylvania; Pine Bluff, Arkansas; San Juan, Puerto Rico; Richmond, Virginia; San Bernardino, California; St. Louis, Missouri; Tulsa, Oklahoma; Washington, D.C.; and Wilmington, Delaware.