DEA Releases 2024 National Drug Threat Assessment

WASHINGTON – Today, DEA Administrator Anne Milgram announced the release of the 2024 National Drug Threat Assessment (NDTA), DEA’s comprehensive strategic assessment of illicit drug threats and trafficking trends endangering the United States.

For more than a decade, DEA’s NDTA has been a trusted resource for law enforcement agencies, policy makers, and prevention and treatment specialists and has been integral in informing polices and laws. It also serves as a critical tool to inform and educate the public.

DEA’s top priority is reducing the supply of deadly drugs in our country and defeating the two cartels responsible for the vast majority of drug trafficking in the United States. The drug poisoning crisis remains a public safety, public health, and national security issue, which requires a new approach.

“The shift from plant-based drugs, like heroin and cocaine, to synthetic, chemical-based drugs, like fentanyl and methamphetamine, has resulted in the most dangerous and deadly drug crisis the United States has ever faced,” said DEA Administrator Anne Milgram. “At the heart of the synthetic drug crisis are the Sinaloa and Jalisco cartels and their associates, who DEA is tracking world-wide. The suppliers, manufacturers, distributors, and money launderers all play a role in the web of deliberate and calculated treachery orchestrated by these cartels. DEA will continue to use all available resources to target these networks and save American lives.”

Drug-related deaths claimed 107,941 American lives in 2022, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). Fentanyl and other synthetic opioids are responsible for approximately 70% of lives lost, while methamphetamine and other synthetic stimulants are responsible for approximately 30% of deaths.

Fentanyl is the nation’s greatest and most urgent drug threat. Two milligrams (mg) of fentanyl is considered a potentially fatal dose. Pills tested in DEA laboratories average 2.4 mg of fentanyl, but have ranged from 0.2 mg to as high as 9 mg. The advent of fentanyl mixtures to include other synthetic opioids, such as nitazenes, or the veterinary sedative xylazine have increased the harms associated with fentanyl.  

Seizures of fentanyl, in both powder and pill form, are at record levels. Over the past two years seizures of fentanyl powder nearly doubled. DEA seized 13,176 kilograms (29,048 pounds) in 2023. Meanwhile, the more than 79 million fentanyl pills seized by DEA in 2023 is almost triple what was seized in 2021. Last year, 30% of the fentanyl powder seized by DEA contained xylazine. That is up from 25% in 2022.  

Social media platforms and encrypted apps extend the cartels’ reach into every community in the United States and across nearly 50 countries worldwide. Drug traffickers and their associates use technology to advertise and sell their products, collect payment, recruit and train couriers, and deliver drugs to customers without having to meet face-to-face. This new age of digital drug dealing has pushed the peddling of drugs off the streets of America and into our pockets and purses.

The cartels have built mutually profitable partnerships with China-based precursor chemical companies to obtain the necessary ingredients to manufacturer synthetic drugs. They also work in partnership with Chinese money laundering organizations to launder drug proceeds and are increasingly using cryptocurrency.

Nearly all the methamphetamines sold in the United States today is manufactured in Mexico, and it is purer and more potent than in years past. The shift to Mexican-manufactured methamphetamine is evidenced by the dramatic decline in domestic clandestine lab seizures. In 2023, DEA’s El Paso Intelligence Center (EPIC) documented 60 domestic methamphetamine clandestine lab seizures, which is a stark comparison to 2004 when 23,700 clandestine methamphetamine labs were seized in the United States.

DEA’s NDTA gathers information from many data sources, such as drug investigations and seizures, drug purity, laboratory analysis, and information on transnational and domestic criminal groups.

It is available DEA.gov to view or download.

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