Effort is Latest Attempt by Agency to Escalate the Failed Drug War that Continues to Ravage Vulnerable Communities

Washington, D.C. – In response to the Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) announcing the launch of Project Safeguard—another attempt at escalating the failed drug war, which continues to ravage vulnerable communities—Maritza Perez, Director of the Office of National Affairs at the Drug Policy Alliance (DPA), released the following statement:
 
“It is astonishing that in the midst of a pandemic and calls for police reform, the DEA is using the same old heavy-handed tactics to address a public health issue. Treating drug trafficking offenses as “homicides” is not the answer to reducing overdoses. Drug overdose rates continue to increase amid COVID because our country has failed to adequately fund harm reduction services and treatment in favor of an ineffective and unproven punitive approach. Drug law enforcement undermines already vulnerable communities by increasing public health harms, exacerbating mass incarceration, and contributing to racial disparities in the criminal legal system. 
 
Project Safeguard, like countless law enforcement initiatives before it, will not make any real progress in curtailing the underground drug market or aiding people who use drugs and want help. Notably, the “results” touted by Project Safeguard are simply the arrests of more people and assets seized–not any actual reduction in supply, demand, overdoses or other health consequences of drug use. The resources used to fund this operation by the DEA – an agency with a history of mismanagement and abuse of power – should be deployed toward evidence-based and health-centered approaches that have the potential to actually save lives and reduce harm.”