08:40 GMT29 November 2020
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    WASHINGTON (Sputnik) - US authorities have arrested 28 people for illegally prescribing and distributing opioids and opened 188 active investigations, the US Department of Justice said in a press release on Monday.

    These measures were taken as a part of a nationwide 45-day analysis in February and March of addictive painkiller availability in an attempt to trim a record death toll from drug overdoses.

    "The culmination of those investigations was 28 arrests, 54 other enforcement actions including search warrants and administrative inspection warrants, and 283 administrative actions of other types," the release said. "This resulted in the development of 366 leads to DEA field offices, 188 of which 51 percent resulted in active investigations by DEA’s [Drug Enforcement Administration] 22 field divisions."

    The 45-day probe was conducted by DEA-employed special agents, diversion investigators and intelligence research specialists to analyze 80 million transaction reports from DEA-registered manufacturers and distributors, the release said.

    ​Investigators also used reports on suspicious orders and drug thefts that were provided by other federal agencies, such as the Department of Health and Human Services.

    ​The United States suffered more than 60,000 drug overdose deaths in 2017, a majority involving opioids obtained through prescriptions or black market sales of illegal opiates such as heroin, according to official reports.

    Results of the Campaign

    A four-day effort by the US Department of Justice, other federal agencies and local law enforcement to interview 160 people who had purchased opiates and other illegal drugs on the Darknet resulted in eight arrests, US Attorney General Jeff Sessions said in a press release on Tuesday.

    "During the March 27-30 operation, FBI, USPIS [US Postal Inspection Service], and local law enforcement made eight arrests related to Operation Disarray," Sessions stated. "Agents conducted more than 160 interviews nationwide of people who have bought or sold opioids and other drugs online. Leads from the investigation identified 19 overdose deaths of persons of interest."

    In addition, the FBI, USPIS and the Internal Revenue Service Criminal Investigation also executed numerous search warrants, which resulted in the seizure of weapons, drugs, counterfeit currency and computer equipment, Sessions said.

    ​The operation was the first under an anti-drug program known as the Joint Criminal Opioid Darknet Enforcement (J-CODE) Team, an FBI-led initiative targeting drug trafficking, especially fentanyl and other opioids on the Darknet, Sessions noted.

    Other federal agencies that participated included the Drug Enforcement Administration, Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms, Naval Criminal Investigative Service and Department of Homeland Security, according to the release.

    drug overdose, campaign, investigation, arrest, death toll, drugs, Department of Justice, U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration
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