New DEA division leadership to maintain focus on fentanyl
The new leader of the Drug Enforcement Agency division in El Paso, which covers New Mexico, said the agency will maintain its focus on keeping fentanyl out of New Mexico.
Special Agent in Charge Towanda Thorne-James said to members of the media in Albuquerque Thursday that fentanyl is the DEA division’s main focus, and agents are trying to stay one step ahead of the cartels.
“Our main focus is on combating these cartels that are responsible for the influx of these drugs,” Thorne-James said.
DEA agents are tracking two Mexican cartels — the Sinaloa Cartel, and the Jalisco New Generation Cartel, or CJNH.
“At the end of the day, we are solely focused on combating the cartels and saving lives,” Thorne-James said.
She said fentanyl’s impact is as severe as ever.
“My goals are to work quality investigations with our partners, both state, local and federal, and to ultimately, at the end of the day, save lives,” Thorne-James said.
Their work continues to find out how fentanyl is getting in, who’s bringing it, and how to stop it.
“We do a lot of investigations with regard to the fentanyl itself. I can’t reveal how we do our investigations, but we deploy many techniques that lead to identifying individuals who are actually bringing it in, whether it’s coming in by a vehicle or some other means of transportation. All of our investigations are focused on how it’s getting in here,” Thorne-James said.
They said criminals are getting more creative, and they’re using social media.
“People are bringing in fentanyl all sorts of ways, on their person, in their vehicle. There’s no shortage of creative ideas as to how to smuggle it into the country,” Thorne-James said.
On top of all that, people in Mexico are getting the precursor chemicals from China, making fentanyl, and taking it into New Mexico.
“DEA is working with China. China could absolutely do more,” Thorne-James said.
DEA agents said a lot of fentanyl is taken through New Mexico to other parts of the country, but they want to emphasize that a lot of it does stay in the state, and it’s leaving a huge negative impact on communities.