Saturday, President Biden sent the White House Office of National Drug Control Policy to San Diego to announce a new plan to crack down on the methamphetamine crisis.
The Biden-Harris administration's plan will increase and enhance further collaboration between San Diego County's existing Meth Strike Team (Health and Human Services Agency), itself a collection of local agencies, and the ONDCP’s San Diego & Imperial Beach regional branch called the High Intensity Drug Trafficking Areas program.
Dr. Gupta, the director of the ONDCP, spoke to the media alongside community leaders that included District Attorney Summer Stephan.
“Our nation faces the most dynamic drug environment that we’ve ever seen in the history of this country,” said Gupta.
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According to the ONDCP, U.S. Customs and Border Protection discovered $2.9 million worth of meth at the southern border. Details of the plan include pursuing drug trafficking organizations.
"More than 50% of all the meth, heroine, cocaine and fentanyl seized on the southwest border is seized in the San Diego and Imperial County Region" said Nick Macchione, with HHSA's strike team.
David King, the director of the High Intensity Drug Trafficking Area local program spoke during the press conference too.
“Last year you saw that over 17,000 pounds of meth was seized in a single tractor trailer load at the San Ysidro Port of Entry.”
The new plan includes the expansion of prevention programs in schools, the creation of more treatment opportunities in outpatient and prison settings.
It also entails additional harm reduction methods like fentanyl test strips, syringe service programs and naloxone.
“Methamphetamine deaths and over dose deaths have climbed up by 93% in 4 years and they are not showing that it’s going to slow down,” said Stephan.
The White House’s plan also includes training for law enforcement, the community and healthcare providers. Also, forging international relationships with countries like China, India and Mexico to target drug trafficking.
“Almost all of the meth that is consumed in the United States is manufactured abroad and smuggled into our country,” said Gupta.
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The Health and Human Services Agency provide the following data:
"Accidental drug deaths are a scourge on our community. Last year 919 San Diegans died of an accidental overdose. That’s a grim 82 percent increase between 2017 and 2021. Of those 2021 deaths, 863, or 94 percent, involved opioids or methamphetamine Of those that involved both substances, 91 percent, or 280, involved fentanyl. Stark as they are, those numbers are the data. What they miss are the lives effected by these deaths. Those lives are what we are here to address, and what we are doing to help and what we must do better. Much of our help is based on treatment. In fiscal 2020-21, more than 3,000 clients at County treatment centers reported meth as their primary substance. That’s about a quarter of all clients served."