New Head Of St. Louis DEA Office Settles In, Preps For Battle

William J. Callahan III arrives here from New York City office.

Brett Blume
July 18, 2018 - 3:09 pm

(KMOX/Brett Blume)

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ST. LOUIS (KMOX) - The new Special Agent in Charge (SAC) of the DEA - St. Louis division says he's still settling in, but ready to take the fight against drugs to the streets.

"Primarily, the challenges (in St. Louis) are related to the opioid crisis," William J. Callahan III said during a sit-down with KMOX. "Fentanyl and heroin overdose deaths, plus another issue is the violence related to drug activity and the methamphetamines that are coming to the area."

Where do all the illicit drugs that turn up in the St. Louis area originate?

"I'd say the main source of the drugs coming in are from Mexico," he replied. "Heroin, methampetamines. There's another source where the fetanyl and other synthetic drugs are coming in. They coming in from China."

Callahan takes over a division that includes southern Illinois, along with the entirety of both Missouri and Kansas, which saw a more than 1,600% increase in fentanyl seizures from 2016 to 2017.

"That's alarming enough," he said. "But taken with the increases of drug-related violence, we have to be innovative. Not only will we continue to go after the most violent and prolific drug traffickers impacting our region, we will also partner with businesses, community and faith-based groups to deliver demand reduction awareness, education and addiction and recovery resources."

Reaching out to schools will also be an ingrained feature of Callahan's effort to thwart drug dealers and traffickers.

When asked if there's any age that's too young to start talking to kids about drugs, Callahan recounted some intel his agency just gathered.

"I heard something disturbing today, that one of our investigations identified 9-year-olds being used to courier the drugs, to run the drugs," he said. "So I'm not sure there's any age too young, but I think we have to get to the younger ages, and we have to keep it up as they grow older."

As his agency targets those who traffic heroin, fentanyl, meth and more, Callahan said he'll put an emphasis on strengthening community relations, as well as bonds with other agencies like the FBI and local law enforcement.

"When you are more likely to die of a drug overdose now than as a result of a car accident, we have to do something," he said. "DEA and our law enforcement partners are committed to doing all we can to protect our neighborhoods and communities."