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December 4, 2023Charlotte, NC, United StatesNarcotics

HSI leads multiagency operation targeting drug traffickers

CHARLOTTE, N.C. — On Dec. 1, 2023, Homeland Security Investigations (HSI) Charlotte announced the results of Operation Tsunami Rising, a three-day, multiagency operation that ran from Nov. 14 through Nov. 16 across North and South Carolina.

The multi-jurisdictional operation targeted air, land and sea smuggling and trafficking corridors throughout the Carolinas that was initiated to disrupt the flow of deadly narcotics, illicit proceeds of crime and violent criminal organizations operating throughout the region.

As part of HSI’s Strategy for Combating Illicit Opioids, Department of Homeland Security (DHS) components conducted unified interdiction and investigative operations across the region. Tsunami Rising leveraged the combined authorities and capabilities of HSI, U.S. Coast Guard (USCG), U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) Office of Field Operations (OFO), Air & Marine Operations (AMO), U.S. Transportation Security Administration (TSA) and numerous state and local law enforcement partners to accomplish this operation.

Operational highlights include:

  • 34 felony arrests
  • 32 kilos of cocaine seized
  • 104 kilos of marijuana seized
  • 6.3 kilos of fentanyl seized
  • 35 illegal firearms seized
  • More than $500,000 in currency seized
  • Five human trafficking victims encountered and rescued
“Disrupting the flow of illicit opioids, other highly dangerous drugs and the associated criminal activity makes our communities much safer and sends the message to those involved in this crime, that we are relentless in our pursuit to combat the distribution of illicit narcotics,” said Ronnie Martinez, Special Agent in Charge for HSI Charlotte, which covers North and South Carolina. “Operations like this highlight the great results that can be achieved when DHS agencies and our state and local partners work together.”

“The collaboration between Customs and Border Protection and law enforcement partners resulted in the rescue of persons being held against their will and dangerous individuals in custody,” said CBP Charleston Area Port Director Jacob B. Mayer.

“This operation allowed TSA to strengthen our partnership within the DHS umbrella and the results exemplify the importance of keeping all modes of transportation safe for all that use them,” said David McMahon, TSA Federal Security Director- South Carolina

“This case spotlights our versatility and ability to integrate and work closely with our partners to get the job done,” said Jacksonville Air and Marine Branch Director Drew Gellerson. “Our agents were able to provide the needed aviation capability to make this event a success.”

“Working with our DHS partners is our top priority here in the Southeast region,” said AMO Southeast Region Executive Director John Priddy. “Today’s case demonstrates the value of integrated teamwork and shows what we can accomplish with an all-hands on deck approach.”

“The success of this collaborative multi-agency operation and the resulting seizures represent the strong partnerships between federal, state, and local law enforcement to ensure the safety of our waterways, ports, and communities,” said Capt. Tim List, Sector Commander, North Carolina.

“In collaboration with the Department of Homeland Security and our valued partners, this successful operation stands as a testament to the unwavering coordination among multiple agencies and port partners, showcasing our collective dedication to ensuring the safety and security of the Port of Charleston and the greater Southeast region,” said Capt. Frank DelRosso, U.S. Coast Guard Charleston Sector Commander. “Through seamless coordination and shared commitment, we have fortified the resilience of our maritime domain and took decisive step towards safeguarding our communities and disrupting criminal activities that pose a threat to our nation’s well-being.”

For more news and information on HSI’s efforts to combat the flow of illicit opioids and the associated criminal activity, follow us on X, formerly known as Twitter, @HSI_Charlotte.

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’ largest investigative law enforcement presence abroad and one of the largest international footprints in U.S. law enforcement.