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TBI warns about 'active' drug cartels operating in Tennessee

TBI warns about 'active' drug cartels operating in Tennessee (File photo courtesy DEA)
TBI warns about 'active' drug cartels operating in Tennessee (File photo courtesy DEA)
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The Tennessee Bureau of Investigation (TBI) is warning the public about an uptick in dangerous drugs and violence they are seeing across the state.

The agency has investigated drug trafficking for decades. But they say cartels from Mexico are making their jobs more difficult and more dangerous. And they're calling out these cartels by name.

"There are two primary cartels that we have found very connected to almost everything we do,” TBI Director David Rausch said. “That is the Sinaloa Cartel out of Mexico and the new Jalisco Cartel. Both of them are actively, very engaged in operations in Tennessee and we are working closely with our friends at the DEA on addressing that head on."

This past summer, Rausch warned fentanyl use is on the rise, and not just in Tennessee. Meth makes up about 30% of overdose cases, but fentanyl and fentanyl analogues make up approximately 17%. According to the TBI, heroin use is declining. But that’s not particularly a good thing—it just shows how rapid the use of fentanyl is becoming, agents say.

Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) reports overdoses from fentanyl are the leading cause of death for people ages 18 to 45.

ALSO READ: 'This terrifies me' TBI director warns of rapid increase in fentanyl overdoses

TBI says they are working with the DEA on drug trafficking every day. But they are also in need of more people.

Rausch says they must improve salaries for their agents or risk losing them. The director spoke directly to the Gov. Bill Lee about the issue. The agency has openings in aviation, forensics, and many other departments. They want to be able to hold on to the agents they have.

But it’s easier said than done.

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