Conserving the Nature of America
Press Release
Committed to Public Safety, Trump Administration Seizes More Than 13,600 Pounds of Illegal Narcotics on National Wildlife Refuges in 2020
Estimated value of $43 million – 17 times the amount of 2019

December 16, 2020

Contact(s):

publicaffairs@fws.gov


black and white american flag with one blue line and Refuges goose superimposed

Credit: USFWS

Today, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (Service) recognizes the public safety protection efforts of Federal Wildlife Officers who in 2020 successfully led the seizure of 13,615 pounds of illegal narcotics on national wildlife refuges. The 2020 street value of the seizures was $43 million -- 17 times more than in 2019, which was $2.5 million. The Trump Administration has made it a priority to end the drug overdose epidemic that kills approximately 70,000 Americans each year.

“Federal Wildlife Officers successfully stopped thousands of pounds of deadly narcotics from reaching our communities this year, and they continue to serve with distinction every day in protecting national wildlife refuges,” said Rob Wallace, Assistant Secretary for Fish and Wildlife and Parks. “The Trump Administration is working day in and day out to protect our citizens from illicit drugs and violence.”

The National Wildlife Refuge System, managed by the Service, is the nation’s largest network of public lands dedicated to wildlife conservation. Federal Wildlife Officers who serve and protect the resources of the Refuge System provide visitors with safe access to wildlife viewing and photography, fishing and hunting activities. These officers are among the most visible and recognizable conservation professionals entrusted with safeguarding the integrity of the nation’s wildlife refuges while ensuring public safety.  They combine resource protection, traditional policing and emergency first response to protect, serve and educate the public and Service staff. This includes stopping illegal narcotics smuggling and possession on Refuge System lands.

“Under the Trump Administration, our law enforcement has been effective in protecting wildlife and habitat and making refuges safe places for staff and visitors while preventing illegal narcotics from further afflicting communities across this nation,” said Service Director Aurelia Skipwith. “I am proud of the Service’s Federal Wildlife Officers and the incredible work they are doing on the ground to combat illicit drug activities on national wildlife refuges.”

Federal Wildlife Officers work in partnership with the U.S. Customs and Border Protection, U.S. Border Patrol, Immigration and Customs Enforcement, Drug Enforcement Agency, and Tribal, state and local governments to address the flow of illegal drug trafficking and to mitigate the impacts associated with these activities. 

Illegal narcotics smuggling is dangerous not only to the public, it also damages the fragile habitats that national wildlife refuges protect and includes displacing native vegetation, soil erosion and contamination as well as disturbing wildlife. In June 2020, an active marijuana grow site was discovered on a national wildlife refuge in California. Approximately 3,000 marijuana plants and 1,580 pounds of trash were removed. This year, in the southwest, Federal Wildlife Officers seized 1,050 pounds of illegal narcotics. 

 

2013

2014

2015

2016

2017

2018

2019

2020

Marijuana bundles

760.5 bundles seized*

360 bundles seized*

195
 bundles
seized*

165 bundles seized*

89 bundles seized*

57 bundles seized*

951.37 lbs

12,569 lbs

Number of Marijuana Plants

117

4,749

1,717

3,233

16,744

4,757

364

12,284

Loose leaf or joint

269.18g

380.82g

268.91g

291.82g

609.37g

29,320g

1524g

1094g

Cocaine

68kg

1.76kg

0.22kg

123kg

0.17kg

1.17kg

0.003kg

592.82 lbs

Heroin

0.5g

4g

4.00 Capsules

2.5g

38.4g

2.61g

0.016g

0.004g

Methamphetamine

9.64g

39.05g

66.41kg

121g

315g

370g

0.3g

437.78 lbs

                 

* These bundles were seized on Service lands by another agency with no recorded weights

               

Federal Wildlife Officers receive extensive training in proactive law enforcement practices. They have employed multiple methods of illegal narcotic interdiction including the use of Federal Wildlife Canine Officers. Federal Wildlife Canines serve as patrol partners, and they help locate people, evidence, contraband and wildlife. This July in Arizona, a Federal Wildlife Canine Officer intercepted three individuals with 61 pounds of methamphetamine on a national wildlife refuge.

More information on the Refuge System’s law enforcement, including careers, can be found online at: https://www.fws.gov/refuges/lawenforcement/.

Founded by President Theodore Roosevelt in 1903, the National Wildlife Refuge System is an unparalleled network of 568 national wildlife refuges and 38 wetland management districts. There is a national wildlife refuge within an hour’s drive of most major metropolitan areas. The Refuge System receives nearly 60 million annual visits. National wildlife refuges provide vital habitat for thousands of species and access to world-class recreation, from fishing, hunting and paddling to nature watching, photography and environmental education.


The mission of the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service is working with others to conserve, protect, and enhance fish, wildlife, plants, and their habitats for the continuing benefit of the American people. We are both a leader and trusted partner in fish and wildlife conservation, known for our scientific excellence, stewardship of lands and natural resources, dedicated professionals, and commitment to public service. For more information on our work and the people who make it happen, visit www.fws.gov.

For more information on our work and the people who make it happen, visit http://www.fws.gov/. Connect with our Facebook page, follow our tweets, watch our YouTube Channel and download photos from our Flickr page.