Attorney General Merrick B. Garland Delivers Statement to US Conference of Mayors

Good morning everyone.

Mayor Suarez, thank you very much for that very kind presentation. And it’s great to be back here with all of you for the 91st Winter Meeting.

The Department of Justice of the United States, as stated by Mayor Suarez, has a large and urgent mission: to uphold the law, to keep the American people safe, and to protect the rights of the public.

But we cannot do this work alone. The mayors gathered in this room are important partners of the Ministry of Justice.

Therefore, on behalf of the entire Ministry of Justice, I would like to thank you for your leadership and continued partnership.

The power of partnership has never been more important than it is now – especially when it comes to fighting the fentanyl epidemic.

Across the country, fentanyl is destroying families and communities.

According to the CDC, more than 107,000 people in the United States will die from drug addiction in 2021. And about two-thirds of those deaths involved synthetic opioids – especially fentanyl.

This almost invisible poison is 50 times stronger than heroin. Just two milligrams of fentanyl — the amount that can fit on the tip of a pencil — is a potentially lethal dose.

And increasingly, we know that many people who are taking fentanyl don’t know they’re taking it.

This is because drug dealers are manufacturing and transporting deceptively similar synthetic drugs. named team. Instead, fake pills contain dangerous fentanyl.

The DEA has seen a significant increase in expired fentanyl-laced fake prescriptions across the country.

In 2022, six out of 10 fentanyl-laced, counterfeit prescription drugs seized contained a potentially lethal dose. This is a remarkable increase from an alarming figure of 2021, when four out of 10 such drugs contained a potentially fatal drug.

Also, we know that cartels are selling rainbow colored pills that look like candy or prescription drugs. It usually comes in a table or a block like sidewalk chalk.

These pills, too, often contain fentanyl. And we know from lab tests that this “fentanyl rainbow” is just as dangerous and deadly as other types.

Each of you understands better than most human beings this crisis. As mayor, you have witnessed the devastation caused by fentanyl poisonings and overdoses.

You have seen lives lost. You know families and villages that have been destroyed.

And you have witnessed the increased demands and risks placed on the police who must respond to this crisis.

Recently, we met with DEA ​​Director Anne Milgram and families of victims of fentanyl poisoning from the DC area. The victims ranged in age from 17 to 64 years old. They had talented musicians, actors, and loving friends.

A parent spent his Sundays after church playing football. A young woman was planning to go to community college. A young man was looking forward to becoming a father.

They were all killed by fentanyl poisoning. Each story was tragic and heartbreaking.

Too many lives have been lost due to drugs and excessive drinking. Too many families – too many communities – have been torn apart by this tragedy.

The Department of Justice uses every tool at our disposal to save American lives:

We are working tirelessly to remove dangerous fentanyl from our communities.

We are doing everything in our power to remove and fix the examples that are being put out there.

We are devoting our resources to supporting programs that address the public health challenges of addiction and abuse.

And we’re doing all of this in collaboration with our state, local, tribal, and territorial partners.

First, our agents and attorneys are working closely with their partners across the country to conduct investigations, arrest traffickers, and seize dangerous fentanyl. Last year, DEA agents conducted searches in communities across the country, including several cartel-related investigations.

In 2022, the DEA and its law enforcement partners seized more than 50.6 million fentanyl-laced, counterfeit drugs. The amount seized will more than double in 2021.

The DEA has seized more than 10,000 pounds of fentanyl powder.

Together, these seizures represent more than 379 million prescription drugs of fentanyl.

That much fentanyl could kill all Americans.

We are also working with our internal and external partners to hold those responsible for this incident accountable.

The DEA is focusing its efforts on disrupting the two vehicles responsible for most of the fentanyl crossing the US-Mexico border: the Sinaloa and Jalisco New Generation Cartels.

Last week, I joined President Biden and other members of the cabinet in Mexico City for meetings with our partners in the Mexican government.

There, we discussed the development of our countries’ joint efforts to combat fentanyl trafficking. This includes disrupting the flow of primary drugs coming from the Republic of China to Mexico, and dismantling secret laboratories where cartels use those drugs to synthesize fentanyl in Mexico.

And in counties across the country, our deputies and attorneys are working every day to bring to justice those who threaten our communities with deadly drugs.

Yesterday for example, in the Central District of Georgia, an indictment was released charging nine people with conspiracy to possess with intent to distribute methamphetamine and fentanyl. Two of the defendants were also charged with firearms charges.

And last week:

In the Southern District of California, a man was convicted of distributing fentanyl that resulted in the death of a 30-year-old child.

In the State of Minnesota, two people were sentenced for their roles in a fentanyl trafficking conspiracy based on the Red Lake Indian Reservation.

In Colorado County, a man was sentenced to life in prison for conspiracy to distribute fentanyl and distribution of fentanyl to death.

The evidence presented to the court confirmed that between 2017 and 2018, the accused brought tens of thousands of drugs laced with fentanyl from Mexico to the United States. , resulting in the death of a young man in (2017).

In the Western District of Virginia, we charged an individual with conspiracy to possess with intent to distribute fentanyl, methamphetamine, heroin, and cocaine.

He was also charged with possessing a gun to continue selling drugs. The defendant is accused of having more than 10,000 drugs and a kilogram of fentanyl powder.

And, earlier this month, in the Eastern District of Virginia, we confirmed the guilty plea of ​​a man who sold drugs to a 14-year-old boy.

The herb was thought to be a pain reliever. In fact, they were laced with fentanyl. Five days after the sale, the 14-year-old died of a fentanyl overdose.

These cases are a testament to the work our agents and attorneys are doing every day, along with their state and local partners, to disrupt fentanyl trafficking and save lives.

Currently, in addition to our advocacy efforts, we are committed to supporting communities to address the public health challenges of addiction and substance abuse.

Last year, the Office of Justice announced a grant program totaling more than $340 million to address the epidemic.

Such awards go toward supporting drug trials and treatments; residential treatment programs; security and harm reduction services; recovery support; services for opioid-affected youth; and community-based policies to improve continuity of care.

Next year, our Office of Justice Programs hopes to make more money available for these programs. These programs will help expand access to the support and treatment needed by people struggling with addiction and substance abuse recovery.

As with all the Ministry’s efforts to make our country safe and fight against violent crimes, the success of our work is still dependent on working closely with our partners.

All of our 94 United States Offices continue to work with their state and local partners to develop and implement regional strategies to reduce criminal offenses.

And the Department’s grantmaking arm continues to provide financial assistance to local law enforcement agencies.

Last year, through our Office of Community Based Policing Services – or COPS – we provided more than $139 million in funding for the COPS Hiring Program.

These grants allow law enforcement agencies across the country to hire full-time law enforcement officers. Next year, we will mark even more, with more than $224 million dedicated to the COPS Hiring Program.

Our grantmaking teams also offer support, technical assistance, and help organizations adopt best practices in the field.

And our law enforcement teams continue to work with our state, local, tribal, and territorial law enforcement partners to seize illegal firearms and dangerous drugs and to apprehend the most dangerous fugitives.

We are grateful for the continued partnership of America’s mayors in this work.

And we are committed to continuing to work with you to protect our communities.

Thank you all so much.

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