Drug Enforcement Administration

DEA Operation Project Safeguard Combats Drug-Related Violence

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Thousands of guns, thousands of pounds of drugs, and millions of dollars in cash have been seized in South Florida by the Drug Enforcement Administration since August.

In Florida, the DEA worked with over 70 leads and arrested 426 people. Thousands more were arrested nationwide, the sweeping numbers a result of Project Safeguard, which intensifies the agency's efforts to combat drug-related violent crimes.

Acting administrator Timothy Shea spoke exclusively to NBC 6 about the operation while meeting with local police.

"The same people that pour drugs into our neighborhoods are the very same people that commit the violent crimes against drug traffickers, civilians, or police officers," Shea said.

Last month in Miami-Dade County, the DEA and Miami-Dade police were conducting a narcotics investigation when suspects opened fire. One cop was shot and is still recovering from his injuries.

"Those are state and local officers working with the DEA on Project Safeguard," Shea said. "We've battled some very dangerous criminals out there."

There are three elements to Project Safeguard: to focus on violent crime, finding fugitives and gun trafficking.

That one case in Miami-Dade was traced to a drug-related homicide.

The DEA works hand-in-hand with state and local law enforcement agencies on the streets.

"We’re working with them to identify those that are the most violent, those that are in the neighborhoods," Shea said. "And we’re working with them to develop investigations that attack the whole organizations to take them out and bring them to federal court."

In Fort Lauderdale, the DEA says the murder rate is up 56% this year compared to last, partly because of drug crimes. In Miami-Dade, aggravated assaults are also up by 80%.

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