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Operation Free Virginia: 114 agencies seized more than 17K pounds of illicit drugs


Following Fentanyl Awareness Day, Gov. Glenn Youngkin today announced the results of Operation Free Virginia, a 30-day statewide fentanyl operation coordinated through 114 state, federal, county and municipal agencies.

Operation Free Virginia’s purpose is to protect the Commonwealth and combat the fentanyl crisis. The program seized more than 17,000 pounds of illicit drugs and 18,000 pounds of prescription medications during the 30-day operation.

“I’m immensely proud of the work done by The Secretariat of Public Safety and Homeland Security and Virginia State Police,” Youngkin said. “Through their tireless efforts this first-of-its-kind operation seized enough fentanyl to kill more people than the entire population of Virginia. While we still have a long way to go towards our goal of eliminating fentanyl in the Commonwealth, these results are significant, and proof of the positive work being done in our communities.”

In May 2023, Youngkin signed Executive Order 26 to help combat the fentanyl epidemic in Virginia. The order, amongst other factors, directed the Secretary of Public Safety and Homeland Security to develop a strategic plan for law enforcement agencies across the Commonwealth to combat illicit trafficking and the sale of fentanyl in Virginia. In response, the Department of Public Safety and Homeland Security, led by the Virginia State Police, conducted a statewide fentanyl operation focusing on increased enforcement, whole of community training, education and partnerships to reduce supply and demand across the Commonwealth.

“The hard work of law enforcement, community partners and stakeholders across the Commonwealth, builds on our continued efforts to make Virginians safer and healthier,” First Lady of Virginia Suzanne S. Youngkin said. “We will continue to educate around the dangers of fentanyl — stressing that ‘It Only Takes One’ pill to take a life and one important conversation to save a life.”

According to Secretary of Public Safety and Homeland Security Terry Cole, Youngkin’s leadership and the success of Operation Free Virginia have made the Commonwealth safer.

“The Governor’s operation brought 114 state, federal, county, campus and municipal agencies together to protect our Commonwealth. It’s a reminder that when we work together in an all of government approach, we can make our communities more secure. I’m happy to see that Virginia is one step closer in our fight to eliminate the deadly impacts of fentanyl,” Cole said.

The data collected from the operation detailed clear and significant positive results in stemming fentanyl’s devastating impact in in our communities. Operation Free Virginia seized 23.45 kilograms of illicit fentanyl and resulted in a total estimate of denied revenue of over $1.3 billion.

Rebecca Barnabi

Rebecca Barnabi

Rebecca J. Barnabi is the national editor of Augusta Free Press. A graduate of the University of Mary Washington, she began her journalism career at The Fredericksburg Free-Lance Star. In 2013, she was awarded first place for feature writing in the Maryland, Delaware, District of Columbia Awards Program, and was honored by the Virginia School Boards Association’s 2019 Media Honor Roll Program for her coverage of Waynesboro Schools. Her background in newspapers includes writing about features, local government, education and the arts.