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July 25, 2023Topeka, KS, United StatesNarcotics

HSI, law enforcement partners announce new fentanyl enforcement taskforce

TOPEKA, Kan. — Homeland Security Investigations (HSI) Kansas City acting Special Agent in Charge of Taekuk Cho, the Kansas Bureau of Investigation, the Kansas Attorney General’s Office and the Kansas Highway Patrol announced a new collaborative initiative to combat fentanyl in Kansas called the Joint Fentanyl Impact Team.

The Joint Fentanyl Impact Team’s objective is to identify and disrupt fentanyl trafficking and distribution networks and remove the deadly drug from Kansas streets. The team comprises law enforcement officials experienced in complex narcotics investigations, special agents and troopers. Team members are embedded with federal, state and local law enforcement officers operating across the state.

The task force allows increased coordination of intelligence, personnel and resources.

“Drug trafficking investigations are especially successful when we collaborate with our state and local law enforcement partners,” said Cho. “This cooperative approach by the Joint Fentanyl Impact Team ensures that the best resources are being used to put an end to drug trafficking operations in our community.”

One component of the Joint Fentanyl Impact Team’s strategy is the introduction of the Kansas Bureau of Investigation’s new K-9 unit. With funding assistance from Midwest HIDTA and the Wichita Metro Crime Commission, four K-9 officers were recently trained and certified in detecting fentanyl and other illegal drugs; they’re the first fentanyl detecting K-9 officers in Kansas. They’ll work closely with this narcotics team to interrupt fentanyl movement into the state, including intercepting drugs entering through the mail, on roadways and railways, and by air.

The Joint Fentanyl Impact Team was formed as the enforcement component of Attorney General Kris Kobach’s strategy to prevent fentanyl overdose deaths.

"When I campaigned for attorney general, I promised to utilize our resources to fight against fentanyl. This task force and these dogs will be powerful weapons in our arsenal," said Kobach.

The task force has implemented several proactive strategies to address the dangers inflicted on Kansans by fentanyl manufacturers and dealers.

“The Kansas Highway Patrol and law enforcement agencies across this state are doing everything they can to keep dangerous and deadly drugs out of your community,” added Kansas Highway Patrol Col. Erik Smith.

“It is our hope that these targeted enforcement efforts reduce the growing number of fentanyl deaths, but we must recognize that we won’t be able to enforce our way out of this crisis,” said Kansas Bureau of Investigation Director Tony Mattivi. “To make real progress, we must increase awareness about how lethal fentanyl is, and how any street drug or pill can contain this poison.”

HSI is the principal investigative arm of the U.S. Department of Homeland Security (DHS), responsible for investigating transnational crime and threats, specifically those criminal organizations that exploit the global infrastructure through which international trade, travel, and finance move. HSI’s workforce of more than 8,700 employees consists of more than 6,000 special agents assigned to 237 cities throughout the United States, and 93 overseas locations in 56 countries. HSI’s international presence represents DHS’s largest investigative law enforcement presence abroad and one of the largest international footprints in U.S. law enforcement.

Learn more about our mission to combat fentanyl in the community on Twitter @HSIKansasCity.