2024 National Drug Threat Assessment

The Drug Enforcement Agency (DEA) recently released their “2024 National Drug Threat Assessment,” highlighting the growing change from plant-based drugs to synthetic drugs such as fentanyl and methamphetamine. This annual assessment provides crucial information to law enforcement, policymakers, and prevention and treatment specialists to set law enforcement priorities, and to allocate resources.

In addition to emphasizing the dangers of synthetic drugs, the report largely focuses on drug trafficking activities carried out by the Sinaloa and Jalisco Cartels, two major Mexican cartels at the center of the crisis. The DEA seized approximately 13,176 kilograms of fentanyl powder in 2023. Synthetic drug production, like fentanyl, involves partnering with chemical and pill press companies in China for essential materials and coordinating with associates in the U.S. for distribution. Synthetic drugs manufactured by the Mexican cartels led to a total of 59,019 drug poisoning deaths in the U.S. in 2023.

To date, the DEA has trained more than 2,500 federal, state, and local investigators. The purpose of this training is to treat fatal poisoning incidents not just as public health emergencies, but as criminal cases.

“DEA is committed to disrupting every part of the fentanyl supply chain, to include seeking judicial consequences for individuals who provide illicit fentanyl to vulnerable and unsuspecting Americans, resulting in death.”

For more information, check out the HSDL’s In Focus topic on Fentanyl and Opioids and documents related to synthetic drugs.

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