I am Jon DeLena, Associate Special Agent in Charge of the New England 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 the Manchester, New Hampshire community, targeting the fentanyl 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’s Citizens Academy: DEA recognizes the importance of forging strong alliances with local communities and maintaining collaborative relationships with community leaders. The DEA’s Citizens Academy offers participants the opportunity to understand the world of federal drug law enforcement and the important role the 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 Mark Wahlberg Youth Foundation, 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 fentanyl use. In those targeted communities, the New England 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,
Associate Special Agent in Charge DeLena
Top Local Drug Threat
Using local statistics as a guide, local DEA officials have identified the powerful synthetic opioid fentanyl and the stimulant methamphetamine as the top drug threats in the Manchester area. In 2019 about 80% of drug overdose deaths in New Hampshire involved fentanyl, according to the Office of the Chief Medical Examiner.
And, according to the most recent numbers from 2020, out of 297 overdose deaths, 215 involved fentanyl.
DEA has also reported a widespread threat of fentanyl mixed with xylazine.
Deaths due to methamphetamine have increased sharply since 2012.
Article: Concerns About Recent Rise in Methamphetamine (Makin' it Happen)
Latest Statistics: 2020 Drug Death Data (Office of Chief Medical Examiner)
Senator Hassan, Congressman Pappas Introduce Bipartisan Legislation to Crack Down on Deadly Xylazine
Criminals Increasingly Mix Xylazine with Fentanyl to Increase Potency, Leading to Overdose Deaths in NH
WASHINGTON -- U.S. Senator Maggie Hassan and Congressman Chris Pappas introduced bipartisan, bicameral legislation to crack down on a highly dangerous sedative that poses a new threat in New Hampshire’s opioid epidemic. Xylazine is an easily accessible veterinary tranquilizer that criminals are mixing with fentanyl to increase its potency and lower their production costs, and the New Hampshire Department of Health and Human Services recently issued a health alert about the danger of its usage. Xylazine causes depressed breathing and heart rate, unconsciousness, necrosis, and even death, and naloxone does not reverse its effects because it is not an opioid. Senator Jeanne Shaheen also joined in introducing the legislation.
“Xylazine is hurting New Hampshire communities and contributing to the alarming rate of overdose deaths in our state,” Senator Hassan said. “Our bipartisan bill would take important steps to combat the abuse of xylazine by giving law enforcement more authority to crack down on the illicit distribution of this drug, including by putting stiffer penalties on criminals who are spreading this drug to our communities. My colleagues on both sides of the aisle are seeing the impact of this deadly drug in their states, and we will continue working together to move this critical bill forward.”
“As we continue to see xylazine being mixed with fentanyl, heroin, and other deadly drugs, it’s critical we take action to crack down on illegal use,” said Congressman Pappas. “This legislation would track the manufacture of xylazine, which is legally used as an animal tranquilizer, and ensure law enforcement has the resources needed to crack down on illegal drug traffickers. I hope that this legislation will be swiftly brought to the House floor for a vote, and I’ll continue working across the aisle, and alongside law enforcement and public safety experts, to craft comprehensive solutions that will help combat our ongoing addiction epidemic.”
“The prevalence of Narcan-resistant xylazine has exacerbated the substance use disorder crisis in New Hampshire and across the nation. The level of danger this creates for those who use it, either knowingly or not, is incredibly high and far too often turns deadly,” said Shaheen, who chairs the Senate Appropriations Subcommittee that funds anti-opioid grant programs. “Our communities have endured the unimaginable and overwhelming grief of losing loved ones to the fentanyl epidemic for too long, and the introduction of xylazine is exacerbating this public health crisis. I’m glad to partner with lawmakers from both sides of the aisle on this new bill that would classify xylazine as a Schedule III drug to help get it out of the hands of everyday Granite Staters and Americans. As chair of the Senate Appropriations Subcommittee that funds the Drug Enforcement Administration and other federal agencies working to combat the substance use disorder crisis, I’ll continue efforts to stop the flow of these illicit drugs from reaching our communities.”
“Fentanyl and xylazine can be a lethal combination, and it is making New Hampshire’s opioid epidemic even worse,” said Colonel Nathan Noyes of the New Hampshire State Police. “This bipartisan bill from Senator Hassan, Representative Pappas, and Senator Shaheen will take crucial steps to help law enforcement go after the illegal use of this drug and help save lives.”
Despite alarming reports about the rise of xylazine, federal, state and local law enforcement do not have the tools necessary to effectively track it or crack down on traffickers using it to increase their profits.
The bipartisan, bicameral Combating Illicit Xylazine Act would address the current gap in federal law by:
Imposing stronger penalties for the illicit use of xylazine;
Enabling the Drug Enforcement Administration to track its manufacturing to ensure it is not diverted to the illicit market;
Requiring a report on prevalence, risks, and recommendations to best regulate illicit use of xylazine;
Ensuring all analogues of xylazine are covered when restricting its illicit use;
Declaring xylazine an emerging drug threat.
Xylazine is a medication used by some veterinarians and farmers, and the bill cracks down on the illegal distribution of this drug while safeguarding access for professionals who use the drug legally. The bill is supported by the American Veterinary Medical Association.
Senator Hassan is working to crack down on illicit drug trafficking. Senator Hassan recently visited Mexico, Guatemala, and Honduras as part of a bipartisan congressional delegation trip to speak with foreign officials about efforts to crack down on drug trafficking. In addition, the most recent year-end funding bill included a measure backed by Senator Hassan to extend fentanyl analogue scheduling, in order to keep criminals from using loopholes to traffic deadly opioids. The Senator successfully worked to secure her bipartisan measure in the 2021 year-end funding bill to hold countries such as China accountable for facilitating America’s fentanyl-fueled substance misuse crisis. Senator Hassan also worked with her colleagues to pass into law the bipartisan INTERDICT Act, which has provided critical tools to Customs and Border Protection to help detect and intercept fentanyl and other illegal synthetic opioids.
Get facts about how methamphetamine and fentanyl affect a user's body.
Learn more about the history and effects of drugs with neat, printable fact sheets (all PDFs) that can serve as handy resources by visiting https://www.getsmartaboutdrugs.gov/publication/drug-fact-sheets.
Check out this list of local organizations that provide services to the public regarding addiction, community empowerment, drug education and prevention, drug take back programs, recovery, and overall health and wellness.
BeBOLD of Bedford
Boys and Girls Club of Manchester and Nashua
CADY – Communities for Alcohol and Drug-Free Youth
DEA Dance Program
Dover Youth 2 Youth
Lions Club Manchester
Makin’ It Happen Coalition for Resilient Youth
Manchester Police Athletic League
Mark Wahlberg Youth Foundation
Massachusetts College of Pharmacy – Manchester Campus
New Hampshire Fisher Cats
Raymond Coalition for Youth
Teen Challenge of New Hampshire
The NH Governor’s Youth Counsel
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.
Check back here for local, upcoming Operation Engage events!
Connect With Us!
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Stay up to date with the Operation Engage initiative in Manchester by following: DEA New England's Twitter account @DEANewEngland, and the hashtags: #OpEngageNH and #EngagewithNH
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DEA. 10 November, 2020. Operation Engage Manchester. Retrieved from https://admin.dea.gov/engage/operation-engage-manchester on 31 May, 2023
DEA. "Operation Engage Manchester."Drug Enforcement Agency, 10 November, 2020, https://admin.dea.gov/engage/operation-engage-manchester Accessed 31 May, 2023.
DEA. . Drug Enforcement Agency on DEA website. https://admin.dea.gov/engage/operation-engage-manchester. 10 November, 2020. Accessed 31 May, 2023.