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Federal, local officials announce plan to tackle meth trafficking & overdoses

Posted at 8:17 PM, May 07, 2022
and last updated 2022-05-08 00:31:29-04

KEARNY MESA, Calif. (KGTV) — Saturday, Dr. Rahul Gupta, Director of the White House Office of National Drug Control Policy, joined San Diego leaders to announce a new plan to combat methamphetamine trafficking and overdoses.

"Our nation faces the most dynamic drug environment that we have ever seen in the history of this country," said Dr. Gupta.

Gupta said methamphetamines cause more than 32,000 overdose deaths within a year, which is four times the amount in 2016.

"That means a life lost to methamphetamine every 16 minutes around the clock," said Dr. Gupta.

The new strategy combines public safety and public health efforts.

“The tragic rise in methamphetamine-involved overdose deaths requires immediate action,” said Dr. Gupta. “This bold, new action plan builds on the President’s National Drug Control Strategy by expanding access to evidence-based prevention, treatment, and harm reduction strategies, as well as reducing the supply of methamphetamine and other illicit drugs by going after drug trafficking organizations. This comprehensive and forward-looking action plan will help make our communities healthier and safer.”

The announcement was made during a press conference at the San Diego and Imperial Valley High Trafficking Intensity Areas office.

District Attorney Summer Stephan, who serves as the co-chair of the county's Meth Strike Force, said the region is a key entry for meth and fentanyl in the U.S.

"Methamphetamine deaths and overdoses have climbed 93% in four years, and they're not slowing down," Stephan said.

The plan involves increased training with law enforcement to reduce the supply of meth trafficked across the U.S.-Mexico border.

"The plan makes sense. It's concrete, and it addresses both the enforcement and prosecution, but, also the prevention by providing more treatment," she said.

Nick Macchione, Director of the County of San Diego Health and Human Services, added that 919 San Diegans died from accidental overdoses last year, an 82% increase from 2017 to 2021.

The plan will expand evidence-based harm reduction services on the public health end, like fentanyl test strips and the overdose-reversing drug, naloxone.