I am Shawn R. Ellerman, Assistant Special Agent in Charge of the Philadelphia 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 Philadelphia community(s), 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.
- DEA’s 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 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 Philadelphia 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
Fentanyl, a strong synthetic opioid, is the Philadelphia area's top local drug threat, according to local officials.
In 2019, there were about 1,150 drug overdose deaths in the city, according to the Philadelphia Medical Examiners Office. This is a slight increase from 2018.
Opioids - most frequently fentanyl - were detected in about 84% of the overdose deaths in 2019.
Within the past several years, the number of fatal opioid overdoses involving fentanyl have increased significantly.
In 2012, only 2% of opioid deaths involved fentanyl. In 2019, 94% of opioid deaths involved fentanyl.
See the chart below from the Substance Use Philadelphia website, based on data from the city.
Many fake pills, created to look to legitimate prescription medication, contain dangerous and sometimes deadly amounts of fentanyl.
What is Fentanyl?
Fentanyl is a synthetic opioid that is 80-100 times stronger than morphine. Pharmaceutical fentanyl was developed for pain management treatment of cancer patients, applied in a patch on the skin. Because of its powerful opioid properties, fentanyl is also diverted for abuse.
Fentanyl is added to heroin to increase its potency, or be disguised as highly potent heroin.
Related: Learn more about fentanyl's effect on the nation from DEA's perspective in the National Drug Threat Assessment.
Here's a 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.
The Bucks County Drug & Alcohol Commission, Inc. (BCDAC) serves as the Single County Authority (SCA) for alcohol, tobacco and other drug prevention, intervention and treatment and recovery support services.
Struggling with COVID? Go to their site for local resources.
Need info about proper medicine disposal? Visit their site to learn more about their medication collection program.
Philly HopeLine is a free helpline sponsored by Uplift Center for Grieving Children and the School District of Philadelphia. It is staffed by Masters' level clinicians from Uplift, and is open to all School District of Philadelphia students & families.
If you feel lonely, stressed, sad, angry, or confused...
CALL OR TEXT FOR FREE 1-833-PHL-HOPE (1-833-745-4673)
Mondays – Fridays 12 p.m. – 10 p.m.
Holidays, Saturdays and Sundays 12 p.m. – 4 p.m.
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.
In addition check out the local organization below.
Hip Hop Fundamentals
Hip Hop Fundamentals is a group of local break dancers. In addition to their high energy performances, they get students involved through dance instruction. They do a great job interacting with the youth, while highlighting anti-drug messages.
Every Saturday, from 9:30 am - 10:30 am Eastern, the group is hosting a FREE dance class on Zoom for kids ages 5 - 12. Interested? Go to their site for more information!
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.
What is Naloxone?
Naloxone is an opioid receptor antagonist that rapidly binds to opioid receptors, blocking heroin from activating them. An appropriate dose of naloxone acts in less than 2 minutes and completely eliminates all signs of opioid intoxication to reverse an opioid overdose.
Finding Naloxone in Philadelphia
In Philadelphia, you can get naloxone through either your doctor's prescription or through the statewide standing order written for the general public by Dr. Rachel Levine. Many pharmacies have the order on file, but you can also download it here.
Overdose Free PA’s website has a naloxone locator. Just enter in your address or zip code to find the nearest clinic or pharmacy.
Prevention Point Philadelphia is a local, private nonprofit organization that promotes health and safety in communities affected by drug use and poverty.
The group provides training at their location on how to use naxolone, the opioid overdose reversal drug, throughout the year. Get more information on their website.
Within the standing order, there are also instructions on how to use both Narcan and injectable naloxone. See them here.
The Department of Drug and Alcohol Programs also has information about naloxone trainings and more on their website.
Virtual Townhall Meeting
Operation Engage, along with other local organizations, is hosting a local townhall meeting with members of the faith community.
Topic of discussion: Strengthening Faith-Communities' Partnership in Drug Prevention and Community Wellness. Speakers include Henry Lozano, a grassroots organizer, and Dr. Katrina Wyche, who has been in the substance abuse prevention field for over 20 years.
Date: Monday, October 4, 2021
Time: 6:00 pm - 8:00 pm Eastern
Register for the meeting using the link below:
For more details email Frank.J.McCartney@dea.gov or call 267-990-2459
Free Breakdance Classes
Hip Hop Fundamentals, an Operation Engage partner, will be hosting free dance classes every weekend until August 8!
Saturdays @11am ET
Malcolm X Park (5100 Pine Street, Philadelphia, PA)
Sundays @11 am ET
Art Museum (2600 Ben Franklin Parkway, Philadelphia, PA)
Email firstname.lastname@example.org for more information!
Delaware Building Bridges Conference: DEA Virtual Exhibit
Check out this video of DEA's Virtual Exhibit that was featured at the conference. This presentation includes various community outreach components: including Operation Engage, online resources, youth summits/video clips, Red Ribbon, Take Back, and others. Watch.