DHS Homeland Security Investigations Releases Strategy to Combat Illicit Opioids
WASHINGTON — The Department of Homeland Security’s Homeland Security Investigations on Tuesday released the Strategy for Combating Illicit Opioids, an intelligence-driven approach to disrupting and dismantling transnational criminal organizations and keeping dangerous substances, like illicit fentanyl driving the overdose epidemic, off America’s streets.
The strategy leverages HSI’s experience in investigating cross-border criminal activity and its unique access to customs and financial data to prevent illicit shipments of drug precursor chemicals from reaching U.S. borders. Interrupting the precursor supply chain further prevents the synthesis of drugs like fentanyl and methamphetamines.
“For more than five years now, fentanyl has been causing so much loss of life and destruction in our communities,” said Secretary of Homeland Security Alejandro N. Mayorkas in a press release. “We in the Department of Homeland Security, along with our federal, state and local partners, are committed to combating this scourge and protecting American communities from it. The new HSI Strategy for Combating Illicit Opioids … will help further align our intelligence and field operations to keep fentanyl off the streets and bring ruthless cartels and criminal organizations to justice.”
Primary elements of the Strategy for Combating Illicit Opioids fall within four goals:
- Reduce the international supply of illicit opioids.
- Reduce the domestic supply of illicit opioids.
- Attack the enablers of illicit opioid trafficking: illicit finance, cybercrime and weapons smuggling.
- Conduct outreach with private industry.
The strategy includes an expansion of the Transnational Criminal Investigative Unit Program. HSI TCIUs are composed of host country law enforcement officials, including Customs officers, immigration officers, and prosecutors who undergo a stringent vetting process. HSI TCIUs facilitate information exchange and bilateral investigations involving violations within HSI’s investigative authority, including illicit opioid production and trafficking and the associated crimes of weapons trafficking, money laundering and cybercrime.
TCIUs enhance the host country’s ability to investigate and prosecute individuals involved in transnational criminal activity within their jurisdictions, often resulting in disruptions of criminal enterprises also engaged in illegal activity in the United States.
In fiscal year 2022, HSI seized more than 1.8 million pounds of narcotics and more than $5 billion in illicit currency and assets, dealing a significant blow to TCO operations and criminals seeking to profit from crimes. HSI continues to target supply chains responsible for foreign-origin shipments of illicit precursor chemicals used to produce substances like fentanyl and methamphetamine destined for the United States — drugs that fuel overdose deaths.
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