June 13, 2024

Background Press Call by Senior Administration Officials on the Administration’s Counter-Narcotics Efforts

Background Press Call by Senior Administration Officials on the Administration’s Counter-Narcotics Efforts

Via Teleconference

12:04 P.M. EDT
MODERATOR:  Thank you, everyone, for joining this call.  We’re going to discuss the Biden-Harris administration’s counter-narcotics work.
I’m sure you’ve seen the various announcements today.  This is a good opportunity to ask questions of our folks.
As a reminder, this call will be on background and attributable to “senior administration officials.”  The embargo of the call will lift at the conclusion of the call.
We have a number of speakers on today’s call.  And this is for your awareness, not for your reporting, but we have [senior administration official] at the White House.  We have [senior administration official].  We have [senior administration official] at DEA, [senior administration official] at the FBI.  We have [senior administration official] of OFAC at Treasury, [senior administration official], [senior administration official], and [senior administration official] of U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement, and [senior administration official] at ONDCP.
With that, I’ll turn it over to [senior administration official] to kick us off.
SENIOR ADMINISTRATION OFFICIAL:  Thank you so much.  And thanks to all of you for making time for this call.  I will keep this relatively brief because, as you heard, there are a lot of folks you’ll get to hear from today.  And I think that reflects the priority with which this administration and this government is treating the fentanyl crisis.  It is something that we have mobilized as a challenge for which the various authorities, tools, talents, experience across the executive branch must be mobilized.  And what you’ll hear today is a reflection of that cross-government effort.
More specifically, you have seen the announcements this morning, I suspect, by the Department of Justice, the Department of the Treasury, and the Department of State about historic actions the U.S. government has taken against a global illicit fentanyl network.
The Department of Justice announced criminal charges against over two dozen defendants for their alleged involvement in, or support to, the production and proliferation of illicit fentanyl worldwide. 
The Treasury Department announced complementary sanctions against two companies and five individuals linked to the global proliferation of precursor chemicals used for the synthesis of illicit fentanyl. 
And the State Department announced the submission of over two dozen individuals to the Narcotics Rewards Program.
Taken together, today’s actions represent an extraordinary government-wide effort to counter the global threat that’s posed by the trafficking of illicit drugs, including into the United States. 
These efforts demonstrate the U.S. government’s commitment to dismantling this deadly criminal enterprise at every level, from those who willingly ship illicit precursor chemicals from overseas to those who traffic pills right into our homeland, killing tens of thousands of Americans every year.
President Biden has been very clear, including in his State of the Union remarks, that addressing the national security and the public health threat posed by the flow of illicit fentanyl and other synthetic drugs is a priority of the highest order.  And President Biden has repeatedly called for international cooperation to combat what is truly a global problem. 
Today’s actions directly align with steps the President committed to take during the North America Leaders’ Summit in January, alongside President Lopez Obrador of Mexico and Prime Minister Trudeau of Canada.  Those commitments included intensifying efforts to prosecute drug traffickers, disrupt the supply of precursor chemicals, and prevent the trafficking of drugs and firearms across our shared borders.
Last month, Homeland Security Advisor Liz Sherwood-Randall led a high-level U.S. delegation to Mexico to further increase cooperation to combat illicit fentanyl production and to target the synthetic drug supply chain.
And just yesterday, Dr. Sherwood-Randall, joined by colleagues from departments and agencies at the highest levels, hosted a delegation from Mexico to continue discussing ways we can combat the cartels and transnational criminal organizations that are devastating both our countries and have claimed too many lives.
This partnership is and will continue to be critical to our counter-fentanyl efforts, and we look forward to continuing collaborative efforts to counter fentanyl trafficking and illicit drug consumption across North America.
We will continue to work tirelessly to hold accountable those responsible for advancing the loss of life caused by the global illicit drug trade.
President Biden commends the Department of Justice and the Drug Enforcement Administration for their relentless pursuit of justice and accountability, and is grateful to all of those at the State Department, the Department of the Treasury, the Department of Homeland Security, and ONDCP, among others, for collaboration against this global threat.
And with that, I’ll turn things over to my colleague at DEA.
SENIOR ADMINISTRATION OFFICIAL:  Thanks, [senior administration official].  And thank you, everyone, for being on the call.  So, as [senior administration official] said, we at the DEA are looking at this, obviously, because fentanyl is the deadliest drug threat that our country has ever faced.
And what we’re seeing is that all of the fentanyl in the United States comes from Mexico, and most of it is trafficked by the Sinaloa cartel.
I’ll give a little bit of background, and then I’ll talk about this particular investigation with the indictments that we unsealed today.
Our top operational priority is to map the network of the two cartels that are responsible for the vast majority of the fentanyl coming into the United States that’s killing so many Americans: the Sinaloa and Jalisco cartels.
This mapping of the network is critical for us to work with our interagency partners and across the whole of government to map the network, identify all the nodes, and then target those nodes with operational activity and bring justice to these types of cases.
As you all know, the cartel — Sinaloa cartel is based in Mexico, but it has members, associates, facilitators, and brokers in all 50 states in the U.S. and in over 47 countries around the world.
The cartel was formally led by “El Chapo” Guzman, who is now serving a life sentence in U.S. prison.  Three of his sons that are subject of this investigation and these indictments — Ovidio, Ivan, and Alfredo — are known as the “Chapitos.”  They now lead the cartel.
They pioneered the manufacture and trafficking of fentanyl and are responsible for the massive influx of fentanyl into the United States over the last eight years.  They know that they’re poisoning their customers, often without the customer’s knowledge, and they don’t care.
They’re also highly organized and a sophisticated business, employing military-grade weapons and vehicles and hundreds of people to protect the cartel and its leaders at all costs.
So what we did was, when we mapped the networks, we decided to target every single node within that “Chapitos” faction of the Sinaloa cartel.  The DEA had operational activity in 10 countries, operational activity in 28 domestic cities.  Thirty-two of our domestic and foreign offices were involved in this case.  We had seizures in eight cities around the country, money laundering activity in 10 different states and 12 different cities.
We uncovered a weapon for fentanyl case, hundreds of kilos of fentanyl for 500 AR-15 rifles, grenade launchers, rocket-propelled grenade.
We also were able to identify the entire supply chain and all the members of the Sinaloa cartel: the cartel leaders — as I mentioned before, the three sons of El Chapo; their precursor chemical suppliers in China and Guatemala, five of them that were supplying the precursors for the Chapitos network; the clandestine laboratory managers, four of them that were charged; the sicarios and security leaders, brutally violent enforcers for the cartel in Mexico, operating in Mexico and around the world; the fentanyl trafficker leaders, another five that we were able to infiltrate, indict, and capture some of; and the weapons trafficking leaders, another five that are Mexican nationals and one U.S. national; and the money laundering activities.
So we were able to uncover all those and work with our partners in the Southern District of New York and bring CCE charges, fentanyl importation conspiracy charges, fentanyl trafficking conspiracy charges, and possession of machine guns and destructive device charges.
Seven of the targets of this investigation have been arrested in Colombia, Greece, and Guatemala several weeks ago.  Ovidio was previously trapped — arrested by our Mexican counterparts.
We also want to recognize the sacrifices of the brave men and women in Mexican law enforcement and the military that have conducted these enforcement operations over the last year to two years and the sacrifices that they have made.  Our condolences to their families and to their other loved ones.
That’s pretty much the whole investigation.  And I’ll pause there and turn it over to the next speaker.
MODERATOR:  Thank you.  Next up, we’ll have [senior administration official] of OFAC.
SENIOR ADMINISTRATION OFFICIAL:  Great.  Well, we’re very enthused today to join DOJ’s action here targeting the federal network.
As [senior administration official] mentioned at the outset, we today impose sanctions on two companies and five individuals. 
Those companies are China-based.  They are involved in the development and sale of fentanyl precursors to Mexico. 
And the individuals are a little bit more broadly spread out but mainly in China.  Two of the individuals are sales reps for one of the companies that we sanctioned.  Another one of the individuals is a person who, effectively, owns the company.  And then a fourth individual based in China controlled the cryptocurrency wallet that bad been used to receive bitcoin that it — really had become increasingly active in this space in trying to facility narcotics sales around the world.
We also had the opportunity to include in our sanctions today an individual based in Guatemala, who had been working with the Mexican-based cartels to help sell and secure fentanyl.
The point that I think we would just stress from Treasury, as you all may be aware, is that our counter-narcotics program has been around for a number of years, really more than a quarter century at this stage.  But in the last five years or so, we’ve really seen an increased effort to try to target our authorities, thanks to an executive order that President Biden issued in December of 2021, to really expand and to address the rising fentanyl crisis.
That involves trying to disrupt these networks around the world — and not just target individual traffickers but also, as we’re doing here, those who are involved in selling the chemicals and the precursors and other elements that really go into manufacturing and ultimately the distribution of fentanyl around the world.
We’re happy to partner, of course, with DOJ, as we do on a number of different narcotics actions, as well as our colleagues at the State Department, and happy to sort of really emphasize that we see this as a whole-of-government process.
For those who aren’t familiar with what we do at Treasury, what our designations and sanctions mean today is that, effectively, any assets that the parties that we have targeted today, that might be in the United States, are now frozen.
In addition, individuals around the world who may decide to do business with some of the people that we have targeted now themselves could be subject to sanctions.
And overall, when we look at our narcotics authorities throughout the year, we’ve actually found that sanctions are a fairly effective complementary tool to the law enforcement action.  Because what happens is a lot of these individuals and companies, because they’re trying to sell narcotics to the United States, have a vested interest and sometimes have money in the U.S.
And so, we’re excited to participate in today’s action.  And we think we’ll be able to sort of leverage our authorities to hopefully put ourselves in a position where we can take actions in the future to try to disrupt these networks.
And with that just broad overview, I think I’ll pass it to [senior administration official] at State so he can give an overview of their action today.
The U.S. Department of State announced today an unprecedented 27 reward offers through our Narcotics Rewards Program, including increases in reward offers for two high-level leaders of the Sinaloa cartel, Ivan Archivaldo and Jesus Alfredo Guzman Salazar.
The reward offers range from up to $1 million from — up to $1 million to $10 million for information that leads to an arrest and/or conviction of these targets.
These target trafficked fentanyl from around the world, including from Mexico, PRC, and Guatemala.
These reward offers are part of a government-wide attempt to put a halt to trafficking in illicit fentanyl and its precursors. 
The only other thing I will say is we are addressing — the Department is intensifying efforts with international partners to confront the illicit fentanyl supply chain as a top public health and national security priority.
We are addressing the urgent global challenge of synthetic drug use by deploying our diplomats to create a global network of partners to disrupt the synthetic drug supply chain.
The United States is grateful to our partners around the world for their help in putting a stop to these appalling outcomes. 
INL is committed to counternarcotics programming globally.  As an example, in the Western Hemisphere last year, we dedicated approximately $20 million to combat synthetic opioids, especially fentanyl.  And an additional $17 million is dedicated to transnational drug supply reduction programs to combat synthetic drugs, especially fentanyl.  And $20 million is dedicated to drug use prevention, treatment, and recovery — and recovery support initiatives worldwide.
MODERATOR:  Thank you.  Next up we’ll go to [senior administration official].
SENIOR ADMINISTRATION OFFICIAL:  Good afternoon.  And thank you for the opportunity to speak with you all about the significant work across DHS, CBP, and HSI to combat the fentanyl epidemic.
As [senior administration official] stated, fentanyl is one of the deadliest drug threats our nation has ever faced.  DHS is on the frontline combating this dangerous drug every single day. 
CBP’s fentanyl seizures have increased more than 400 percent since fiscal year 2019.  CBP’s fiscal year 2023 seizures of fentanyl have already surpassed our fiscal year 2022 seizure totals.
At our borders, we employ a layered targeting and screening network to interdict fentanyl as individuals attempt to smuggle fentanyl into the country and to take action against the groups responsible for this.
This includes increasing our use of non-intrusive inspection equipment to scan vehicles to detect contraband and other advanced techniques that allow us to detect and interdict dangerous narcotics.
We have increased our focus on targeting the shipments of chemical precursors from source countries by working with HSI, foreign partners, and industry to analyze and target illicit movements in the air and maritime cargo environments.  This targeting allows law enforcement personnel to seize these precursors before they can be synthesized into fentanyl.
Through expanding our use of technology and machine learning to identify risky shipments, CBP has been able to increase interdictions of illicit shipments in the mail and express consignment facilities in an environment with millions of shipments per day and an ever-growing volume as the e-commerce industry continues to grow.
DHS’s strategy to counter fentanyl also focuses on identifying and interdicting the equipment used in fentanyl production, specifically targeting machine pill presses — pill presses, the die molds that produce these counterfeit pills, and encapsulation machines.
On March 13th, DHS announced the launch of Operation Blue Lotus, a new coordinated and surge operation targeting the smuggling of fentanyl.  Currently, the operation is responsible for the seizure of more than 2,400 pounds of fentanyl from coming into the United States at our ports of entry.  The U.S. Border Patrol has also seized over 800 pounds of fentanyl in a concurrent operation.
Operation Blue Lotus — led by U.S. Customs and Border Protection and U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement’s Homeland Security Investigations, along with federal, state, tribal, and local partners — is investing additional personnel, technology, and resources along the southwest border to detect and seize this dangerous drug at and between our ports of entry.
The operation brings together the unique resources and authorities across DHS to implement a multi-pronged approach to combat fentanyl precursor procurement, fentanyl synthesis, and fentanyl movements into the United States.
Blue Lotus increases the number of targeted inspections conducted by CBP officers and HSI agents, canine units, as well as promoting advanced technology at locations along the border.
Operation Blue Lotus leverages advanced analytics and intelligence capabilities across DHS, including the deployment of HSI personnel alongside CBP officers at ports of entry, allowing immediate pursuit of investigations and unprecedented elimination of illicit networks.
In a direct effort to support investigations, we are utilizing forward-operating labs at ports of entry to conduct real-time analysis of unknown substances, enabling DHS to target, identify, and examine unknown powders, pills, crystalline substances, or organic materials for hard narcotics, precursor chemicals, and components associated with the manufacturing or processing of synthetic drugs.
The intelligence gained through Operation Blue Lotus has and will continue to enhance the targeting of drug traffickers at the borders, allowing DHS to continue to build criminal cases against the transnational criminal organizations behind the networks and facilitators dealing in this deadly substance.
Operation Blue Lotus seizures have led to 74 arrests and provided invaluable intelligence regarding the networks who manage the production and distribution of dangerous narcotics.
Today’s briefing highlights the importance and necessity of working with our partners across the U.S. government and abroad to combat a fentanyl epidemic that has exploited the global supply chain.
We have been fortunate to work closely with our foreign partners and a group of skilled investigators and prosecutors to ensure appropriate consequences for those smuggling drugs like fentanyl across our borders and into the United States. 
I can assure you that CBP will continue to disrupt these smuggling networks, shipments of precursor chemicals, and take action against those producing this deadly poison and bring them to justice. 
I again thank you for the opportunity to be here today and to reiterate CBP and DHS’s commitment to the U.S. people and our partners, both foreign and domestic, to prevent the movement of dangerous narcotics like fentanyl from entering the United States. 
Thank you.
MODERATOR:  Thank you.  Next up, we’ll go to [senior administration official] with ONDCP.
Q    Great, thank you.  Good afternoon, everybody.  I’m here to talk about how these announcements — these historic announcements today complement our ongoing efforts to invest in public health, because we’re taking a two-pronged approach to defeating illicit fentanyl and this epidemic. 
Disrupting the trafficking of illicit drugs into the U.S. not only keeps them from harming our citizens and denying profits of drug traffickers, but it also allows our historic investments in public health interventions to take hold so we can save more lives. 
This announcement today comes on the heels of significant actions we’ve taken to improve access to public health.  In the last few months alone, we’ve made life-saving naloxone over the counter while ensuring state and local public health providers can purchase more naloxone using federal dollars. 
We worked with Congress in a bipartisan fashion to remove barriers to treatment. 
We’ve launched a prevention campaign with the Ad Council that taps social media influencers to raise awareness of the dangers of fentanyl and connects them to life-saving resources. 
And we’ve tracked drug threats that could undo the progress we’ve made and just this week declared the combination of xylazine and illicit fentanyl as an emerging drug threat. 
To support these efforts, President Biden has requested $46 billion from Congress in its FY24 budget request for National Drug Control programs.  That’s an increase of $2 billion over current enacted levels.  That includes increases for every type of action and activity you’ve heard about today, from interdiction, to domestic law enforcement, to prevention, treatment, harm reduction and recovery support services.
Today’s announcement helps highlight our two-pronged approach: going after drug traffickers and their profits and tackling untreated addiction.  This approach has helped this administration oversee eight straight months of flattening or decreasing overdose deaths. 
Now, to be clear, a lot of work remains to be done to drive down overdoses.  From President Biden on down to the rest of the people on this call, we are committed to tackling illicit fentanyl and driving down overdoses to save lives. 
Thank you.
MODERATOR:  Thank you.  And thanks to all of our speakers.  Moderator, I think we’re ready to queue up some questions. 
Q    Hi.  Maybe [senior administration official] or any of you could weigh in on this, but I was just hoping to get — I know the both the U.S. and Mexican government have asked China
to start nailing down and limiting the ability of precursor chemicals to get transferred.  What progress, if any, has been made on that front?  Are the Chinese at all being helpful?  Thanks.
SENIOR ADMINISTRATION OFFICIAL:  Yeah, thanks, Aamer, for the good and important question.  And let me say a word on it and then invite [senior administration official] or anyone else to say more if they’d like. 
Look, you heard this from the Justice Department leadership at the press conference earlier today: We have repeatedly, as the government, urged the PRC to take actions to address the serious problem, the serious challenge of illicit synthetic drug production and trafficking and, in particular, to tackle the precursor chemicals that far too often do emerge from the PRC and then, after being turned into powder and to pills, find their way to American communities and ultimately cause American deaths. 
And, of course, you saw aspects of that implicated in the charges announced today by our law enforcement colleagues.
We will continue to press countries around the world to do their part in stepping up in the face of what really is a global challenge — yes, to American citizens, but also to citizens of other countries who suffer from this drug devastating, in some instances, communities. 
And we think the role of the PRC looms large in trying to get countries to step up, do more, and confront elements of this challenge, especially that emerge from their soil.
[Senior administration official], is there more you want to say on that?
SENIOR ADMINISTRATION OFFICIAL:  Hi.  Yeah.  The only thing I would mention is, you know, obviously, for a lot of different reasons, it’s been difficult for the United States to talk directly to the PRC.  So as part of this building of the global coalition to find synthetic opioids, we have been asking our friends and partners around the world — our diplomats have been engaging with our friends and partners around the world, those of — many of whom speak directly with China, and asking them to raise this issue so that China doesn’t just think it’s, you know, a United States problem or a North American problem, but it’s a global problem. 
And the fact is it is a global problem.  In the United States and North America, it’s fentanyl.  In the Middle East, it’s captagon.  In Europe, it’s methamphetamines. 
So this is really a global problem.  We’re looking for global solutions.  We are working closely with our friends and partners, and we are encouraging them and asking them to raise this issue — the issue of precursor chemicals — with the PRC.
SENIOR ADMINISTRATION OFFICIAL:  This is [senior administration official].  I just want to jump in from the DEA’s perspective.  And I echo what [senior administration official] and [senior administration official] have said. 
But the bottom line is: For fentanyl threat, nearly all the precursor chemicals that are needed to make fentanyl are coming from China.  And as we said earlier, those precursors are going into Mexico, and then it’s being manufactured. 
So we would obviously call on China to do more and cut off that fentanyl supply chain where it starts, in their country.  So that’s the DEA’s perspective on that.
Q    Hey, everyone.  Thanks for doing this call.  Everyone here has probably heard the President of Mexico say his country is not producing fentanyl.  I think, you know, he’s referring to the synthesis process.  But I wanted to know, when this delegation was there yesterday, did anyone challenge that assertion?  What did the United States say to Mexican officials, who don’t appear to acknowledge that the country is producing this enormous quantity of fentanyl (inaudible)?
SENIOR ADMINISTRATION OFFICIAL:  I’m happy to take, again, a first stab at the question and then others are welcome to chime in. 
For those who haven’t seen it, I realized it was relatively late yesterday evening, but there is a joint statement out from the government of Mexico and the U.S. government on yesterday’s productive and constructive and, frankly, important conversations.  And it begins by pointing to the fact that we do have a framework under which we are tackling what is a shared security priority of dealing with the fentanyl trafficking and consumption.  It’s the U.S.-Mexico Bicentennial Framework for Security, Public Heath, and Safe Communities.  We think that provides the umbrella structure in which to get at this issue. 
I would also emphasize that the day before these meetings — meaning, on April 12th — the government of Mexico and indeed the President issued a decree creating or permitting the creation of a presidential commission to fight the trafficking of illicit synthetic drugs, firearms, and ammunition. 
And as the statement yesterday indicated from both governments, we commit, ourselves — they — and the Mexican government commits to joint work — continued joint work to dismantle the fentanyl supply chain and, in particular, the two cartels — Sinaloa and Jalisco New Generation — that are — account for so much of the damage being wrought on Americans and on Mexicans by this deadly drug and others related to it. 
So we will continue to have constructive, productive conversations like that, as well as operational coordination where that’s appropriate, and get at what our two governments are treating as a shared challenge. 
Others may want to chime in as well.
SENIOR ADMINISTRATION OFFICIAL:  Hi, yeah, this is [senior administration official] again.  I would just say, you know, two things.  One, I was in Mexico two weeks ago, and the Mexican military was really generous in showing me around Sinaloa and actually taking me to two production facilities — I think we should stop calling them labs because, you know, they’re not laboratories — in Sinaloa.  And it is — it was clear from both of those trips that they know production, synthesizing is going on in Mexico. 
And I think they recognized that while they were here as well.  You know, I don’t know what information the President has — the President of Mexico has, but our information clearly indicates what we saw on the ground. 
And in our meetings, both in Mexico and here in Washington, we don’t spend a whole lot of time talking about that because we understand that the evidence is clear, and we know what’s going on with CJNG and Sinaloa.
Q    Hi.  Thank you so much for taking my question.  I have a couple of questions if that’s okay.  I just needed a little bit of clarification.  I understand more than two dozen defendants were charged — and then there was the two companies out in China — for this.  And it also sounds like there’s multiple indictments.  Can you give me a little bit of clarification just so we make sure that we can see the number of defendants charged for the specific indictment correctly?
And you also mentioned there is a $20 million increase for prevention initiatives worldwide.  A little bit of clarification on that one. 
And then I think I missed part of the response from [senior administration official] saying CBP fentanyl seizures increased more than 400 percent.  Did I get that number right?  Just wanted to get some clarification on that. 
And then the last, last question is: How difficult is it going to be to extradite these defendants that have been charged?  And has that process been initiated?
SENIOR ADMINISTRATION OFFICIAL:  Hi.  This is [senior administration official] from DEA.  I’ll jump in and take the first part of that question. 
So DEA, working with our partners in the Southern District of New York — when we say there are three indictments that were all contemporaneous investigations, 28 members and associates of the Sinaloa cartel.  So they’re broken out into cartel leaders; chemical suppliers; lab managers, or as [senior administration official] correctly says, “production managers”; sicarios; fentanyl traffickers; weapons traffickers; and illicit financiers.
So, Ovidio obviously was arrested back in January by the great work that the Mexican military did.  So that was one that was unsealed. 
The longer investigation had approximately 23 of the 28 that I referenced, and that involved arrest operations we had in a number of countries that I referenced. 
And the final one is a separate indictment.  It’s a fentanyl for weapons conspiracy that involved significant quantities of fentanyl and weapons.  They are Sinaloa associates linked to the Mayo Zambada arm of the Sinaloa cartel. 
So those are all with Southern District of New York. 
There were also some other indictments unsealed that were historical and did not focus on fentanyl at today’s press conference.
SENIOR ADMINISTRATION OFFICIAL:  Oh, so sorry, this is [senior administration official].  I’ll just take the last — the last part of the question for CBP. 
Fiscal Year ‘23 seizures are 400 percent over Fiscal Year ‘19 seizures.  And to date this year, we have already seized more fentanyl than we did all of last fiscal year.
SENIOR ADMINISTRATION OFFICIAL:  I think — [senior administration official], I thought you had one last question.  This is [senior administration official], again, from DEA.
On the extradition more broadly, we look forward to working with our Mexican counterparts to arrest and then expeditiously extradite any of the people that we unsealed the indictment on today.  We’re hopeful that that will take place.
SENIOR ADMINISTRATION OFFICIAL:  Hey, folks.  And this is [senior administration official] from (inaudible).  I want to echo what [senior administration official] said about the seizure numbers for FY23. 
So far, we’ve exceeded all of FY22 numbers for both the seizure and, you know, quite frankly, all the other enforcement actions we’re doing.  Pretty historic numbers we’re seeing and, you know, a whole-of-government effort going towards the fentanyl problem.
And, you know, as [senior administration official] mentioned before, the Operation Blue Lotus and other efforts are going on.  We’re making unprecedented gains against the cartel and related criminality going on down there. 
So a lot of great efforts around the board.
SENIOR ADMINISTRATION OFFICIAL:  Hi.  I would just add — taking on the financial part of this: We have $20 million in the
Western Hemisphere, last year, dedicated to combating synthetic opioids, especially fentanyl.  An additional $17 million dedicated to transnational drug supply reduction programs to combat synthetic drugs, especially fentanyl in the Western Hemisphere.  And another $20 million is dedicated to drug use prevention, treatment, and recovery support initiatives.  That’s worldwide.
MODERATOR:  Thanks, everyone.  That’s all the time we have.  And thanks to all of our speakers for joining as well. 
As a reminder, this call was on background, attributable to “senior administration officials.”  And the embargo has now lifted. 
Thanks, everyone, for joining.
12:40 P.M. EDT


Official news published at https://www.whitehouse.gov/briefing-room/statements-releases/2023/04/14/background-press-call-by-senior-administration-officials-on-the-administrations-counter-narcotics-efforts/