DEA to Expand Into Northeastern Minnesota
2 DEA agents will now be stationed in Duluth to combat opioids, meth, and other drugs
DULUTH, Minn. – The Federal Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) will soon be expanding into the Duluth area.
Two DEA agents will now be stationed in Northeastern Minnesota, embedded with the Lake Superior Drug and Violent Crime Task Force.
“The addiction is destroying lives, it is disrupting families, it drives up crime and it tears apart our community,” said Duluth Mayor Emily Larson at a press conference announcing the expanded partnership between the federal agency and the local task force.
According to DEA officials, meth is a problem across the country, including here in the Northland. And opioids are disproportionately affecting the Duluth area.
“I believe that the opioid problem in this part of the country, in this part of Minnesota, is a direct result of the prescription rates we had here from 2014 up until the time when prescription rates went down,” said Richard Salter, Jr., the DEA Omaha Division Special Agent in Charge.
In addition to creating two new federal agent positions, the DEA will also deputize two officers already with the Lake Superior Drug and Violent Crime Task Force, giving them federal credentials.
“To have the extra bodies here is a huge thing. We’re a Spartan army and two more investigators is a big benefit,” said Duluth Police Lieutenant Jeff Kazel, Commander of the task force.
This will be the first time since the 1990s DEA agents have been stationed in Northeastern Minnesota. It will be a permanent post for the agents outside the DEA’s closest offices in Minneapolis and Fargo.
“We try to go where the threat is, we try to adjust our resources and hopefully this will grow,” said Salter.
Local officials tell us, drug crime must be battled from many angles. Those included saving lives with drugs like Narcan, and helping addicts recover through treatment programs.
“While we see the deaths declining, it is not necessarily an indication of the scope of the problem,” said Duluth Police Chief Mike Tusken. “We believe there’s far more people that are suffering, far more people that are nearly on death’s door from overdose that are being saved because of the accessibility of Narcan today.”
DEA officials say agents will be stationed in Duluth as soon as the new positions are filled.