'Operation Crystal Shield': DEA sees record number of meth seizures in Chicago

It's only January, and the Chicago DEA has already set a new record for 2021.  

Methamphetamine seizures have reached a new high in the area, which means there is more meth on the streets.

"[We] saw the largest total meth seizures here in the Chicago division ever," said Robert J. Bell, Special Agent in Charge with the DEA.   

In 2020, DEA Chicago seized 1,534 pounds of methamphetamine. Just several weeks into the fiscal year of 2021, they have already surpassed that amount by approximately 20 percent.  

Their total for meth seizures is now 1,813 pounds. On the street, one pound of meth is worth $6,500.

"Nationally, methamphetamine overdose deaths have gone up by about a third over the last year. Our raw numbers of meth related overdose deaths are relatively low but they are ticking up," said Bell.

With significant increases in both the availability and seizures of meth in the area, the DEA headquarters recently added the Chicago division to "Operation Crystal Shield."
"Operation Crystal Shield" is a nationwide effort that launched last February to stop the distribution and transportation of meth by specifically targeting transportation hubs and drug cartels.


Chicago DEA is one of only 11 field offices across the country that are a part of this operation. 

For Justin Wolfe, that’s good news.

"When it comes to meth, especially during right now and recent times, over the past year, what we’ve seen is a dramatic increase," said Wolfe.

Wolfe manages the Addiction Services Program at Linden Oaks Hospital in Naperville.  
"Now it seems like it’s something that’s becoming a little bit more common, and the image of it is not as tainted as it once was – now it’s coming to communities like Downers Grove, Naperville , DuPage County, Kane County," said Wolfe.

Wolfe also adds that now is a tough time for many in recovery because of the pandemic. Most support groups were temporarily cancelled because of it.