Operation Artemis Has Led to the Seizure of Thousands of Pounds of Precursor Chemicals
NEW YORK –– Today, after an inspection of contraband interdiction operations at the International Mail Facility (IMF) operated by U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) at JFK International Airport, Secretary of Homeland Security Alejandro N. Mayorkas provided an update on DHS’s surge campaign to target and prevent fentanyl and its precursor chemicals from entering the United States. Following the success of Operations Blue Lotus and Four Horsemen, which stopped nearly 10,000 pounds of fentanyl and led to 284 arrests during a two-month period earlier this year, the next phase of DHS’s campaign to target and disrupt the fentanyl supply chain has stopped over 5,000 pounds of precursor chemicals used in the production of fentanyl in its first few weeks.
“Operation Artemis is surging our personnel to interdict the flow of precursor chemicals, as well as the equipment used to manufacture methamphetamine – thus far we have seized over 5,000 pounds of precursor chemicals,” said Secretary of Homeland Security Alejandro N. Mayorkas. “Fentanyl is one of the greatest challenges that we are facing as a country, and our efforts are multipronged in addressing the traffickers who peddle in death and destruction. We are using all of our resources, all of our capabilities, and our tremendous creativity to guarantee traffickers will not get ahead of us. We will not stop our efforts until we eliminate the scourge of fentanyl and other contraband that is causing so much harm in our communities.”
The Secretary’s update on DHS operations follows the Biden Administration’s release this week of a new National Response Plan to fight the dangerous and deadly combination of xylazine mixed with fentanyl. Operations like those underway throughout the country by CBP and Homeland Security Investigations (HSI) are critical to reducing the supply of these substances and other illicit narcotics in communities across the country.
In his update, the Secretary noted that since its launch a few weeks ago, CBP’s Operation Artemis, which leveraged intelligence gathered from Operation Blue Lotus to target the fentanyl supply chain, has led to over 130 seizures, including:
- Over 5,000 pounds of precursor chemicals
- Over 60 pill presses and pill molds
- Over 300 pounds of methamphetamine
- And over 5,000 pounds of other drugs
CBP is concurrently running Operation Rolling Wave, which surges inbound inspections at Southwest border checkpoints. That U.S. Border Patrol operation has seized:
- Over 1,100 pounds of fentanyl
- Over 15,500 pound of other narcotics including:
- 1,000 pounds of cocaine
- Over 8,000 pounds of marijuana
- Over 6,500 pounds of meth
“CBP is continually adapting and expanding our efforts to detect and interdict illicit drugs like fentanyl, leveraging intelligence and investigation information in order to stay one step ahead of criminal organizations and their networks,” said Troy A. Miller, CBP Senior Official Performing the Duties of the Commissioner. “Through their diligent efforts, CBP personnel – along with our partners – are keeping these deadly drugs out of our communities.”
Under Operation Blue Lotus 2.0, which launched on June 12, CBP and HSI have also continued to surge resources to Ports of Entry, where 90 percent of fentanyl is trafficked primarily in cars and trucks. HSI’s Blue Lotus 2.0 and CBP’s operations have seized over 1,500 pounds of fentanyl and over 23,000 pounds of other narcotics like cocaine, methamphetamines, and heroine.
In addition to operations at Ports of Entry, CBP is running a parallel intelligence and analysis operation named Operation Argus, which provides trade-focused analysis in support of Blue Lotus 2.0 and Artemis.
These operations build on a tremendous amount of work across DHS:
- DHS has initiated major investigative and enforcement operations targeting fentanyl, its chemical precursors, and the supply chain.
- HSI and CBP previously established Border Enforcement Security Taskforce (BEST) units at CBP’s international mail facilities (IMFs), express consignment hubs, land border ports of entry, and international airports.
- DHS investment in non-intrusive inspection technology (NII), including the deployment of Multi Energy Portals (MEP) in the cargo environment that are significantly expanding our ability to screen traffic through Ports of Entry.
Additionally, HSI has deployed dedicated teams to every Special Agent in Charge (SAC) office throughout the country performing fentanyl investigation operations, including work to identify transnational criminal organization networks and to target dark web vendors. HSI is also bolstering support for its ongoing initiatives including Operation Hydra, which uses computer-based analytic tools to target TCO chemical supplies; Operation Pelican Bones, which includes a focus on financial tools used by criminal organizations; and Operation Chain Breaker, which targets equipment needed to manufacture pills; as well as additional personnel deployed at express consignment facilities.
“HSI is steadfast in its efforts to disrupt and dismantle transnational criminal organizations and combat the flow of illicit opioids into the United States,” said ICE Deputy Director and Senior Official Performing the Duties of the Director Patrick J. Lechleitner. “We are committed to our partnerships that enable collaborative efforts, while leveraging broad spectrum resources needed to ensure continued success domestically and internationally – this is a whole-of-government epidemic that we, with other DHS components, are primed to tackle.”
In addition to their disruption of fentanyl smuggling, these DHS operations are also designed to continue to improve interagency cooperation and strengthen regional partnerships, shared intelligence, and coordinated operations.
The JFK IMF that the Secretary visited today is the busiest international mail facility in the United States, serving as the clearing point for over 50% of mail and packages entering or leaving the country. The facility is a testing ground for mail processing modernization and was the site of CBP’s first fentanyl interdiction seven years ago.