'Every city in our country a border city': Sheriffs react to dire DEA report linking Mexican cartels to China

SIOUX FALLS, SD - During a Sioux Falls Crime Report, Minnehaha County Sheriff Michael Milstead shared information from the high-intensity drug trafficking area (HIDTA) outlining that the vast majority of Fentanyl flooding into South Dakota originates from Mexico and chemicals from China.

As reported by Dakota News Now, the data from the Drug Enforcement Agency's (DEA) National Drug Threat Assessment 2024 indicated that threats from both the northern and southern border were documented with Mexican drug cartels taking advantage of both border ports of entry and seaports along the Mexican coast. 

“This border security is critical. It has made every sheriff in America a border sheriff, and every city in our country a border city,” Sheriff Milstead explained.

Citing the report from the DEA shared by Milstead, the outlet revealed that last year, 27,000 pounds of fentanyl were seized at the border, a sizable portion of the overall 549,000 pounds of illegal drugs seized. Per the report, seaports under cartel control are "receiving, distributing, and influencing" regions all over the nation.
DEA Administrator Anne Milgram summarized in the report's introduction, "The Sinaloa and Jalisco Cartels are at the heart of this crisis. These two Cartels are global criminal enterprises that have developed global supply chain networks. They rely on chemical companies and pill press companies in China to supply the precursor chemicals and pill presses needed to manufacture the drugs.

"They operate clandestine labs in Mexico where they manufacture these drugs, and then utilize their vast distribution networks to transport the drugs into the United States. They rely on associates in the United States to distribute the drugs at a retail level on the streets and on social media.

"Finally, the Cartels utilize Chinese Money Laundering Organizations to move their profits from the United States back to Mexico. Drug trafficking organizations based in Mexico and South America are increasingly utilizing China based underground banking systems as their primary money laundering mechanism."

Although much of the political emphasis has been on the wide-open southern border and the Biden administration's apparent ineffectiveness, Former Western Sheriff’s Association President Fred Lamphere of Butte County told reporters, "It used to be people coming to America to try to work, maybe send money back, just seasonal work. Those demographics changed to people sneaking into the country, using cartel, cartel using them to bring in illegal drugs, and then they’re in debt to the cartel."

He added, "Most of it is occurring through Washington State and New Hampshire. A lot of that is drugs as well coming through and they’ve made some big seizures of the drug, but groups of people as well."

According to The South Dakota Searchlight report from March, Minnehaha County has been fielding a major backlog of warrants, In 2023, the County Sheriff’s Office served more than 14,000 warrants. 
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