US Launches Counter-Fentanyl Strike Force

The U.S. Department of the Treasury has announced the launch of a Counter-Fentanyl Strike Force to marshal Treasury’s resources and expertise in a coordinated and streamlined operation to combat the trafficking of illicit fentanyl.

This Strike Force brings together personnel, expertise, intelligence, and resources across key Treasury offices and is jointly led by the Office of Terrorism and Financial Intelligence (TFI) and IRS Criminal Investigation (CI).

The Strike Force will be chaired by Under Secretary of the Treasury for Terrorism and Financial Intelligence Brian Nelson and Chief James Lee of CI and coordinated by their respective offices. It will primarily converge workstreams, staff, and resources from CI, the Financial Crimes Enforcement Network (FinCEN), the Office of Foreign Assets Control (OFAC), the Office of Intelligence and Analysis (OIA), and the Office of Terrorist Financing and Financial Crimes (TFFC). It will also incorporate work as needed across the entire Department, the Treasury said in a press release.

The Strike Force will leverage Treasury’s core competencies and unique expertise in identifying and countering financial crimes. Its mission will include targeting the global illicit supply chain with sanctions and other disruptive actions; working with Mexico and Canada to counter illicit fentanyl through the North American Drug Dialogue, and joint investigations; and liaising with the private sector to share financial intelligence, red flags, trends, and typologies.

The Strike Force will redouble Treasury’s existing work streams, including using financial intelligence to understand risks and map transnational criminal organization (TCO) financial networks.

The Strike Force will also partner with local and federal law enforcement to share financial leads, intelligence, and coordinate on specific cases, especially in areas around the United States that have been hit hardest by the opioid epidemic.

During their meeting at the White House last month, President Joe Biden and Chinese President Xi Jinping had agreed to resume bilateral cooperation on counternarcotics, with a focus on reducing the flow of precursor chemicals fueling illicit fentanyl and synthetic drug trafficking.

Under Secretary Nelson said that during visits to the U.S. Southwest border this year, he saw firsthand how Treasury tools make a difference in disrupting the flow of illicit narcotics into the United States.

“The Strike Force will act quickly and decisively with the top specialists from across the Department to nimbly respond to the newest threats.”

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