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DEA launches 'Operation Overdrive' in Buffalo and New York City to combat drug-related violence and overdoses

“My son Michael was prescribed into addiction for crohn's disease at the time we didn’t have any laws regulating the distribution of pain killers.”
Posted at 11:55 AM, Feb 07, 2022
and last updated 2022-02-07 23:26:37-05

NEW YORK (WKBW) — The Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) has launched 'Operation Overdrive' in Buffalo and New York City to combat drug-related violence and overdoses.

The DEA said last fall it initiated a data-driven approach using national crime statistics and CDC data to identify hot spots of drug-related violence and overdose deaths across the country so it could devote its resources where they would have the most impact.

I feel confident that we're going to be able to identify these drug trafficking organizations that are operating within these communities," says DEA Michael Cereo of assistant special agent in charge and hopefully in the end we can decrease the addiction and overdose deaths and decrease violence activities that are going on in these neighborhoods."

Cereo says fentanyl has been killing people.

"We're seeing it mixed with cocaine, heroin, methamphetamine, and most recent one we're seeing are the counterfeit prescription pills and they're making it look like oxycodone when it's actually fentanyl," Cereo says.

The District Attorney of Buffalo, John Flynn says drug related violence and overdoses all go hand and hand.

"We're seeing the rise of gun violence here in Buffalo," Flynn says. "We're seeing the rise in the number of guns and we're seeing more drugs."

The President of Save the Michaels of the World, Avi Israel lost his 20-year-old son, Michael Israel. He says his son suffered from crohn's disease and was prescribed into addiction. His son later shot himself since no help became available. The father believes the DEA and local government should invest into helping the people in need.

"We’re not going to arrest our way out of this we need to provide help to the people who are committing these crimes," Israel says. "There’s a reason why this is going on. There are gangs, there’s poverty and when you don’t have anything to lose you’re going to commit a crime so it’s a whole social issue that needs to be addressed.”

The Buffalo's DA says there has been a 200% increase in gun violence in the last 18 months. The DEA hopes to track drug-related organizations in Buffalo in the next 120 days.

Operation Overdrive launched February 1 and is using an intelligence-led approach identify and dismantle criminal drug networks operating in 34 locations across 23 states in its initial phase.

  • Atlanta, Georgia
  • Baltimore, Maryland
  • Baton Rouge, Louisiana
  • Bronx, New York
  • Buffalo, New York
  • Camden, New Jersey
  • Chattanooga, Tennessee
  • Chicago, Illinois
  • Cincinnati, Ohio
  • Cleveland, Ohio
  • Columbia, South Carolina
  • Dayton, Ohio
  • Detroit, Michigan
  • Flint, Michigan
  • Indianapolis, Indiana
  • Jackson, Mississippi
  • Kansas City, Missouri
  • Little Rock, Arkansas
  • Memphis, Tennessee
  • Miami, Florida
  • Milwaukee, Wisconsin
  • New Orleans, Louisiana
  • Newark, New Jersey
  • Oakland, California
  • Peoria, Illinois
  • Philadelphia, Pennsylvania
  • Pine Bluff, Arkansas
  • San Juan, Puerto Rico
  • Richmond, Virginia
  • San Bernardino, California
  • St. Louis, Missouri
  • Tulsa, Oklahoma
  • Washington, D.C.
  • Wilmington, Delaware
DEA’s objective is clear. DEA will bring all it has to bear to make our communities safer and healthier, and to reverse the devastating trends of drug-related violence and overdoses plaguing our Nation. The gravity of these threats requires a data-driven approach to pinpoint the most dangerous networks threatening our communities, and leveraging our strongest levers across federal, state, and local partners to bring them down.
- DEA Administrator Anne Milgram
The consequences of drug trafficking have become evidently clear in New York, increased overdoses, crime, and violence. While we will continue to target the world’s most prolific drug traffickers, DEA will initiate Operation Overdrive in two cities: Buffalo, NY and New York City. By working with our law enforcement partners, DEA utilizes its many resources to seize illegal drugs and guns from the streets and remove violent drug organizations from neighborhoods within these cities.
- DEA Acting Special Agent in Charge, New York Division Timothy Foley