because at the end of the day, we have to do something ?

Top DEA official wants concerted effort on heroin epidemic

Official: Collective effort among agencies would better tackle problem

BALTIMORE —The head of the Drug Enforcement Administration in Maryland is pushing for a more coordinated assault on the heroin epidemic.

Recently, local and state officials have all announced new initiatives individually. The comments from the DEA came in an interview with I-Team lead investigative reporter Jayne Miller.

The DEA is the federal government’s drug enforcement arm. Its chief in Maryland said the new focus on the heroin epidemic is a good thing but could be wasted without a coordinated effort.

“Thirty years ago, when I was a cop here, the purity levels were between 3 and 5 percent, with 5 percent being on the high side. Today, we’re seeking purity levels upwards of 85 percent,” Gary Tuggle said.

Tuggle is the top DEA official in Maryland. He knows as well as anyone how heroin addiction has changed and expanded.

It is no longer a problem confined to poor, inner city neighborhoods. Heroin has addicts in households throughout the state. The drug’s newer popularity is fueled by addiction that starts with prescription painkillers.

“Why is it that an individual is prescribed a 30- or 40-day supply of prescription opiates for a tooth extraction when that person might need it for three days or so? Well, guess what? That excess goes into the medicine cabinet, which has probably become to most dangerous part of the house, or it goes into circulation illegally,” Tuggle said.

Last week, the state’s attorney general became the latest elected official in Maryland to declare a new initiative on heroin.

He followed Anne Arundel County Executive Steve Schuh’s announcement of a heroin task force last month and Mayor Stephanie Rawlings-Blake’s task force announcement last fall.

Gov. Larry Hogan also put the heroin problem high on his agenda, including it in his State of the State address.

Tuggle supports Hogan but warns little will be accomplished without a more integrated effort among law enforcement and public health agencies.

“The efforts we see going on locally with these new initiatives we applaud, because at the end of the day, we have to do something. But we are hoping we can do it as a collective effort rather than have individual silos of effort and intelligence that don’t pull together the complete picture,” Tuggle said.

The DEA has recently met with the governor’s office. Hogan has indicated he intends to declare a state of emergency on the heroin epidemic. 

11 Responses

  1. The DEA began to get their ‘police/military special forces’ thinking when they got sent in by the CIA to go after the Columbia cartels (remember Carlo Escobar?) After that, seemed there was no stopping them….suddenly they felt they were they’re own branch of the military and it hasn’t stopped. Well, it’s way past time to stop them and defund the and send their egos back where they belong

    • But Plan Columbia was so successful………………(especially from an environmental perspective)

      Defunding the DEA? It IS possible. We just need to express our outrage enough for Congress to do what it did in regards to the DEAs egregious actions against LEGAL MMJ dispensaries. I was somewhat shocked by this but it does show what is possible IF we can light a fire under some derrieres.


  2. I’m assuming US officials in Afghanistan aren’t included in the ‘collective effort’?
    If so, someone might want to tell these guys…

    “The efforts we see going on locally with these new initiatives we applaud, because at the end of the day, we have to do something. But we are hoping we can do it as a collective effort rather than have individual silos of effort and intelligence that don’t pull together the complete picture,” Tuggle said.

    Complete picture he says? Like this one? [Complete picture]

    I’m just curious as to what is it that the DEA actually does in countries around the world . I mean we can’t keep drugs out of maximum security prisons in the US so…. ………….

    *Millions of tons opium and heroin leaving Afghanistan=Billions of dollars. Doesn’t look like much is being spent on Afghan infrastructure. The American People are told our govt is so in debt that our grandchildren will be stuck paying it off BUT somehow we have money to operate DEA headquarters/bases of operation in 67 countries around the world? What other country does this? Somehow we have the money to send ships around space for a look-see here and a look-see there. Somehow we have enough money to operate military bases around the globe and station troops in every other country as well as fund proxy wars in dozens more.We have enough to spot Egypt close to a biliion dollars in aid and Israel over 2 billion? Kinda makes a man go hmmmmmmmm………………….yet the politicians like CryBaby Boehner blame the disabled and poor for feeling ‘entitled’???? …………

    I receive a disability check w/in $200 of the Federal Poverty Level. From this I must pay for insurance and medicine from private govt contracted for profit insurance companies [who do not even provide the services promised] making me run around w/ a broken back to fill my Rx 30 min from my home while refusing service at the hospital complex that houses my pain management doctor? W/out support from family I would be homeless and w/out medical care which w/ two incurable systemic autoimmune diseases would be a death sentence. What is wrong w/ this picture????

    As for legit patients being main suppliers of black market pharmaceuticals? Please. Addicts would run through what I get for a month in a week. Using this logic, it would take roughly 1/3-1/2 of all patients selling almost every pill they get to equal all these drugs that are ‘on the street’. How logical is this when we are drug tested, pill counted, and in severe pain? Its obvious that these drugs are missing higher up the food chain than patients. Just look at the CVS cases in CA recently. The NY hospital where thousands of pills were missing. Trucks of meds disappear in route to delivery. It goes on and on but WE are the ones who are not only blamed but completely shut out of the conversation when it comes to the ‘epidemic’. Point any of this crap out on many blogs and your comments are deleted after moderation (and these are the ones who are supposed to be on ‘our side’?). Lunacy

  3. “…is pushing for a more coordinated assault on the heroin epidemic.”

    Translation: The DEA wants: (1) to be in charge (and it wants more money to fight the drug war); (2) every doctor in every city and state to be required to use the PDMPs; (3) one central database of “legitimate” pain patients; and (4) unobstructed access to all information.

    The Digital Drug War 3.0.

    • No ! Instead the DEA should be getting the abusers into medical detox and rehabs.

      • That’s not the job of the DEA, although it would be nice if it was. But just because someone is abusing their medications, that doesn’t automatically mean they belong in detox/rehab.

  4. you can’t have it both ways. Rehab the oxy abusers first otherwise, it’s destined to fail.

    • So you let 100 million chronic pain pts suffer… waiting on the powers to be change the 1%-2% of the population that has been abusing some substance – other than alcohol & tobacco – for the past 100 yrs.. How long should chronic painers have to wait and suffer ?

      • No the patients should not suffer any more than they have . If someone gains access to a patients meds the patient should file a police report . The patient should also lock all meds in a heavy duty, fire proof safe. Keeping the safe keys or combination in a safe place. Stop blaming the doctors and pharmacists ……..

        • A heavy duty, fire-proof safe? Sounds expensive. Do you think any patient on other drugs that are abused, like heart medications and anti-depressants, should also be required to buy a safe?

          If every pain patient in this country had a heavy duty safe for their prescription medications, would that make the DEA happy? Would that stop the abuse of prescription medications and the drug war?

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