DEA launches effort to stop flood of fentanyl into states including Kansas, Missouri

Staff Reports /
U.S. Customs and Border Protection agents guard 
several kilos of fentanyl seized at the Nogales-Mariposa Port of Entry in Arizona.

PITTSBURG, Kan. — The Drug Enforcement Administration this week announced a new initiative, “Project Wave Breaker,” to disrupt the flow of fentanyl into the U.S., which the agency’s division with responsibility for both Kansas and Missouri will participate in. 

Project Wave Breaker will use intelligence assets to target the activities of Mexican transnational criminal organizations, which are the main suppliers and distributors of the cheaply-produced and potentially deadly synthetic opioid throughout the United States, the DEA said in a press release. 

“While a major entry point for fentanyl is the Southwest border, the cartels are spreading their poison into communities across the Nation,” DEA Acting Administrator D. Christopher Evans said in the release. “Through this initiative, we’re tackling a very real public health, public safety, and national security threat, identifying the most egregious street-level networks in our communities and working our way up through the supply chain.” 

The 11 DEA divisions participating in Project Wave Breaker include the St. Louis Division, which oversees DEA operations in Kansas and Missouri, as well as southern Illinois. In fiscal year 2020, the St. Louis Division seized 80 kilograms of fentanyl, and more than 100 the year before that. 

“DEA St. Louis Division sits at the crossroads of America, with illegal drugs being moved to Chicago and the Northeast, as well as ending up in our neighborhoods,” Special Agent in Charge Todd Zimmerman, head of the St. Louis Division, said in the release. “Fentanyl has caused more deaths and more disruption to families than any drug in my time with the DEA. People should be aware of how dangerous it is, and why the DEA will continue to use every resource available to identify those who are contributing to the crisis.” 

Mexican cartels, and particularly the Sinaloa Cartel, have capitalized on the opioid epidemic, flooding the U.S. with illicit fentanyl, according to the DEA, which noted that according to the most recent CDC provisional data, more than 87,200 people died from an overdose in the 12-month period ending Sept. 1, 2020, marking the largest number of overdose deaths ever recorded in a single year. Deaths involving synthetic opioids increased nearly 60 percent during the same year-long period.