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DEA seizes over 28,000 lbs methamphetamine, $43 million, hundreds of firearms in months-long operation

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BATON ROUGE - In just six months, the DEA seized $43 million and over 28,000 pounds of methamphetamine in "Operation Crystal Shield." A hefty portion of those confiscations come right out of the state of Louisiana.

The DEA launched Operation Crystal Shield in February of 2020, just one month before the coronavirus pandemic put a halt on operations nationwide.

Despite the widespread of COVID-19, agents pursued their mission in taking down dangerous drug dealers, including trafficking along the border.

The DEA identified several major trafficking hubs, narrowing the source of the problem down to nine locations. Atlanta, Dallas, El Paso, Houston, Los Angeles, New Orleans, Phoenix, San Diego, and St. Louis were the nine cities that accounted for more than 75% of the methamphetamine seized by the DEA in 2019. The DEA directed enforcement resources to these cities, where officials say methamphetamine is often trafficked in bulk, then distributed across the country.

The months-long effort targeted the command and control elements of Mexican cartels that operate the major methamphetamine transportation hubs in the United States.

Operation Crystal Shield generated a total of over 750 investigations that resulted in nearly 1,840 arrests and the seizure of more than 28,560 pounds of methamphetamine, $43.3 million dollars in drug proceeds, and 284 firearms, according to Attorney General Barr and Acting Administrator Timothy J. Shea.

In the DEA New Orleans Field Division alone, the mission generated 411 arrests, seized 723 pounds of methamphetamine, $4 million in drug proceeds, and 23 firearms.

Operation Crystal Shield was launched to target dangerous drug dealers and put a stop to crime in communities.

" We are committed to disrupting and dismantling these drug trafficking organizations along with the violence that are plaguing our communities and our nation," Special Agent in Charge Brad L. Byerley said.

Drugs, firearms, and money are all motivators that lead to more violence and crime, which is why Byerley says this mission remained a top priority even amid a pandemic.

"It's a success. We're glad that we were able to do this. What hurts the cartels the most is not always seizing their drugs, it's seizing their assets," Byerley said.

Byerley says the mission was focused on drug dealers who prey upon the good people in this country by selling drugs and committing acts of violence, "spreading fear and destruction wherever they go."

"Together with our law enforcement counterparts, we are seizing their profits, shutting down their distribution networks, and putting dealers where they belong. Behind bars," Byerley said.

Those profits seized will not go to waste.

"It goes into our asset forfeiture fund and predominately, most of it goes to pay overtime for state and local officers who are working investigations, drug investigations, in conjunction with the DEA," Byerley.

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