When Chuck Rosenberg took the top job at the Drug Enforcement Administration two months ago, the prosecutor had a reputation as “Mister Fix It.” NPR says DEA has had a rough time lately ,including scandals like agents at sex parties financed by drug cartels. It was something else that has really taken Rosenberg’s breath away: drug overdose. “Probably the most shocking thing to me was the number of people that die every day in the United States from a drug overdose. I knew there was a problem. I knew it was big. I didn’t know it was 120 people a day,” he said. Rosenberg says heroin and opiates are mostly to blame, and the damage is reaching people in every demographic. “We’re losing 43,000 people each year and that’s more than the number of people who die in a car accident or who die from firearms,” he said.
Nine weeks into his new role as acting administrator, Rosenberg is trying to focus his workforce on the biggest threats. The agency has special agents and employees stationed in 67 countries. “We’re attacking supply abroad,” he said. But also “we’re attacking demand domestically. I think one without the other is foolish.” Rosenberg will soon going deliver a message to the American people in the form of a drug take back program that has been dormant. “We need you to clean out your medicine cabinet; we need you to give us the stuff in your medicine cabinet that can hurt you or your loved ones,” he said. “More to come but we’re going to revive that program and we’re going to do it in every state in the country.” Rosenberg has already visited nine field offices, and last week more than 100 DEA employees piled into an auditorium at headquarters to hear their new leader for the first time.