I am Frank Tarentino, Special Agent in Charge of the Seattle Field Division and I’d like to welcome you to Operation Engage!
As we all know, there are far too many non-fatal and fatal drug overdoses affecting our communities, and sadly, these numbers are increasing. In response, DEA has moved toward community-level collaborative efforts to help reduce these numbers through education and awareness, using our wide range of resources.
Through Operation Engage, our division will focus on Anchorage Alaska, targeting the opioid drug threat. Other components of Operation Engage include:
- Stakeholder/Community Gatherings: To share the latest information about drug trends, drug threats, and other related pertinent information.
- The DEA Citizens Academy: DEA recognizes the importance of forging strong alliances with local communities and maintaining collaborative relationships with community leaders. DEA’s Citizens Academy offers participants the opportunity to understand the world of federal drug law enforcement and the important role DEA and the community together, play in combating drug trafficking, drug misuse and related violence.
- Youth Engagement: Through programs like the DEA Educational Foundation Youth Dance Program and in collaboration with CADCA and the Rendon Group, children of all ages will be able to actively participate in age-appropriate activities, designed for them to learn and gain the most knowledge about the dangers of drugs in a fun way.
- Community Outreach Programs: DEA, along with stakeholder involvement, will concentrate efforts in the communities most affected by opioid misuse. In those targeted communities, the Seattle Field Division will participate in facilitating prevention strategies to include, but not limited to, drug prevention training and technical assistance for communities, coalition outreach, and prescription drug take back events to name a few.
These are only a few of the many resources and opportunities we have available to share with our communities.
I invite you, and your families, to explore our Operation Engage webpage to learn about the many resources we have available. Learning as a family, early on, is the first step in avoiding drug experimentation, drug misuse, drug addiction, and all related behaviors that are plaguing our communities.
Always at your service,
Top Local Drug Threat
The State of Alaska provides unique challenges in preventing the scourge of drug addiction and related crime due to its geographic location and dispersed population. The City of Anchorage consists of 40% of Alaska’s population and is a central hub for narcotics distributed throughout Alaska, to include rural villages. Opioids (illicit fentanyl and heroin) and prescription drugs are among the top regional drug threats in Alaska.
According to the Department of Health and Social Services (DHSS), Alaska Division of Public Health, Section of Epidemiology, from 2019 to 2020, fentanyl overdose-deaths increased 193% statewide. Preliminary data suggests that in a comparison between the first three quarters of 2019 with the same three quarters in 2020, fentanyl overdose-deaths increased approximately 238% statewide. Additionally, DHSS preliminary data shows that fentanyl has so far accounted for approximately 49% of all drug overdoses in Alaska in 2020.
According to DHSS data from 2018-2019, heroin-related deaths in Alaska increased 60% statewide. According to preliminary data from 2020, heroin-related deaths in Alaska decreased approximately 29% from 2019.
(Infographic: Department of Health and Social Services, Alaska Division of Public Health)
Of all drug-related deaths in Alaska in 2019 DHSS reported that approximately 35% were associated with opioid pain relievers and nearly 62% were associated with prescription opioids. Utilizing preliminary data, deaths in Alaska associated to opioid pain relievers declined approximately 12% from 2019 to 2020.
Opioid pain relievers include prescription drugs such as oxycontin or hydrocodone but do not include synthetic opioids such as fentanyl or tramadol. Opioids also include prescription drugs such as morphine and codeine. Because multiple drug types can be involved in a single death, overdose categories are not mutually exclusive, and deaths can be counted under multiple categories (e.g. an overdose involving both heroin and cocaine will be included in both categories.)
* Alaska DHSS data reported for 2019 and 2020 is preliminary and therefore subject to change.
What Are Opioids?
Though some people still refer to all drugs as “narcotics,” today “narcotic” refers to opium, opium derivatives, and their semi-synthetic substitutes. A more current term for these drugs, with less uncertainty regarding its meaning, is “opioid.” Examples include the illicit drug heroin and pharmaceutical drugs like OxyContin, Vicodin, codeine, morphine, methadone, and fentanyl.
Looking for prevention resources specifically for young people? Go to the teen-focused site www.justthinktwice.com/. Here, they'll be able to get facts about drug use and learn ways to live a drug-free life.
Go to FindTreatment.gov to search for general drug treatment facilities in your area. On this site, you can find facilities that offer various payment options (including free and no-cost care), youth treatment facilities, special programs for Veterans, plus more.
Otherwise, enter your zipcode below to find substance abuse treatment facilities in your area.
We’ll be posting events here as they are scheduled. Check back to see what’s happening and where Operation Engage will show up next!
Check out the videos below to see what the Operation Engage team is doing in the community!