WASHINGTON, D.C. (KETK) – Dallas, El Paso, and Houston have achieved the dubious distinction of being designated as methamphetamine “transportation hubs” by the U.S. Drug Enforcement Agency.

The Texas cities join others in the country – Atlanta, Los Angeles, New Orleans, Phoenix, and St. Louis – in being targeted by the DEA with increased enforcement resources to combat meth trafficking in the agency’s new Operation Crystal Shield.

DEA Acting Administrator Uttam Dhillon announced Operation Crystal Shield in Washington on Thursday, saying the agency will “ramp up enforcement to block (drug) distribution into America’s neighborhoods.”

Dhillon described the “transportation hubs” as areas where methamphetamine is often trafficked in bulk and then distributed across the country.

According to DEA, the eight cities named accounted for more than 75% of methamphetamine seized in the U.S. in 2019.

Operation Crystal Shield builds on existing DEA initiatives that target major drug trafficking networks, including the Mexican cartels responsible for the overwhelming majority of methamphetamine trafficked into and within the United States.

From FY 2017 to FY 2019, DEA domestic seizures of methamphetamine increased 127 percent from 49,507 pounds to 112,146 pounds. During the same time frame, the number of DEA arrests related to methamphetamine rose nearly twenty percent.

“For decades meth has been a leading cause of violence and addiction – a drug threat that has never gone away,” said Dhillon. “With a 22 percent increase in methamphetamine related deaths, now is the time to act and DEA is leading the way with a surge of interdiction efforts and resources, targeting regional transportation hubs throughout the United States. By reducing the supply of meth we reduce the violence, addiction, and death it spreads.”

Virtually all methamphetamine in the United States comes through major ports of entry along the Southwest Border and is transported by tractor trailers and personal vehicles along the nation’s highways to major transfer centers around the country.

It is often found in poly-drug loads, alongside cocaine, heroin, and fentanyl.