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NEWS | Oct. 24, 2022

Joint Interagency Task Force West Cohosts the Chemical Working Group

By Joint Interagency Task Force West (JIATF West) Public Affairs Office Media Release

DENVER -- Joint Interagency Task Force West (JIATF West), USINDOPACOM’s counterdrug (CD) task force from Camp Smith, Hawaii, in collaboration with other federal law enforcement agencies, held the fifth Chemical Working Group (CWG) in Denver. Participants included international partners and individuals from across the U.S. inter-agency and represented law enforcement, intelligence, diplomatic and military elements of national power.

The CWG was originally formed as another line of effort against illicit drugs and focused on the precursor chemicals used in their production. This was initially particularly true of those chemicals used in synthetic drugs such as methamphetamine, and now includes the chemicals used in the production of the synthetic opioid fentanyl. Synthetic narcotics were first recognized by Centers for Disease Control in 2020 as a prima-ry public narcotic health threat, and the situation has only worsened since. These narcotics are being synthesized by clandestine labs in Mexico by using chemicals imported from China and elsewhere in Asia.

The CWG provides a forum to help educate the community of interest, identify trends and opportunities, and foster an environment where lessons-learned and best practices can be shared in order to improve counterdrug collaboration and mission effectiveness.

A series of presentations from multiple agencies highlighted mutually beneficial efforts and included a global presence of various U.S. embassy and partner nation representatives. Presentations led to dialogue on policies and procedures with a true inter-agency approach reaching across a broad spectrum of efforts that could impact the illicit production of synthetic narcotics.

“The Chemical Working Group is an example of a forum in which a whole-of-government approach is being leveraged against one of the most consequential threats facing the American people: the scourge of synthetic opioids and the illicit chemicals used in their production,” said Rear Adm. Charles Fosse, Director, JIATF West. “A global problem such as this requires a response that brings every tool of national power to bear and demands that we work across the interagency and with our foreign partners.”

The CWG provided an opportunity for face-to-face engagement with partners to develop a sharper vision of common efforts, which will build upon continuous coordination between law enforcement, intelligence communities and JIATF West.

“It was extremely rewarding to see the myriad of participants coming together and identifying ways in which we will strengthen our network to combat the threat posed by drugs and associated transnational criminal organizations,” said Fosse.

JIATF West is the U.S. Indo-Pacific Command (USINDOPACOM) Executive Agent for Department of Defense (DoD) support to law enforcement for counterdrug and drug-related activities. The JIATF West team is a composite of approximately 85 active duty, reserve, DOD civilian, contractor, and U.S. and foreign law enforcement agency personnel.

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