Operation Safe Haven

Published 11:30 am Thursday, May 31, 2018

The Drug Enforcement Administration launched Operation Safe Haven this week, a sweeping enforcement action spanning three states.

DEA Special Agents — working closely with their state and local law enforcement partners throughout Kentucky, Tennessee, and West Virginia — targeted a variety of bad actors ranging from healthcare workers and distributors to street-level drug dealers in a coordinated effort to attack the opioid crisis head-on in the region.

Southeastern Kentucky has been ground zero for the opioid epidemic, according to C. Frank Hicks, Resident Agent in Charge of DEA’s London Resident Office.

Email newsletter signup

“Operation Safe Haven aligned Federal, State and Local Agencies to focus specifically on the epidemic,” Hicks said. “Very few families in this region have been unaffected by addiction issues and crime. Operation Safe Haven emphasizes the DEA London Resident Office’s commitment to the local community and local and state law enforcement agencies.”

Special thanks for the following agencies that made Operation Safe Haven a success: Eastern District of Kentucky U.S. Attorney’s Office, Kentucky State Police, Pulaski County Sheriff’s Office, Wayne County Sheriff’s Office, McCreary County Sheriff’s Office, Somerset Police Department, Lake Cumberland Area Drug Task Force, Appalachia Narcotics Investigations, Harlan County Sheriff’s Office, Bell County Sheriff’s Office, Pineville Police Department and Operation UNITE.

Operation Safe Haven is the culmination of several months-long investigations. DEA Special Agents and Diversion Investigators from the Louisville Field Division — with support from local law enforcement agencies across the region — made 93 arrests and seized over $1,000,000 in cash.

The team also seized 40 firearms as well as significant quantities of heroin, fentanyl and other drugs. Additionally, over 60 administrative actions were carried out against a range of healthcare providers.

Combating opioid abuse is a top priority for DEA. In conjunction with Operation Safe Haven’s enforcement activities, DEA Diversion Investigators visited more than 100 pharmacies in 70 cities throughout Kentucky, Tennessee, and West Virginia to deliver pharmacist manuals and contact information for the Louisville Division’s Diversion Program.

These visits mark the beginning of an on-going campaign to remind pharmacy staff of their compliance duties and ethical responsibilities.

The DEA’s Louisville Field Division covers Kentucky, Tennessee and West Virginia, under the direction of Special Agent In Charge D. Christopher Evans. The division was created in 2018 to better synchronize DEA’s efforts with regional law enforcement partners in a part of the country among those hardest hit by America’s opioid epidemic.