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Airmen Partner With DEA to Battle Opioid Epidemic

  • Published
  • By Story by Senior Airman Gwendalyn Smith
  • 179th Airlift Wing

For over 40 years the Drug Enforcement Administration has been vital in combating opioid use all over the United States. One of the various locations is the DEA Cleveland.

DEA Cleveland strives to not only react and combat drug abuse, but has an emphasis to also be proactive and raise awareness through public campaigns within Northeast Ohio due to opioid abuse and overdoses.

In order to have such an effect on the community the DEA has professionals who are trained in multiple skill sets, some of which are members from the 179th Airlift Wing.

“The Ohio National Guard counter drug personnel assigned to the Cleveland DEA office have been a tremendous asset to the DEA intelligence unit,” said James Goodwin, Resident Agent in Charge of the Cleveland DEA District Office. They enhance our capabilities and our resources and they bring their experience in the military and the national guard to working law enforcement projects”

Amongst the Airmen working with the DEA is Senior Airman Micheal Early, an operations intelligence analyst. Even though Early has only worked for the DEA a short period of time he has seen the impact it has on the community.

“Within the past two months that I have been here I’ve come to realize just how much of an impact that the drug epidemic actually has within the community,” said Early. “I’ve always thought of people overdosing as something you just kind of hear about.”

“Growing up I started to see people that I knew or people I went to school with overdosing,” said Early. “Working here and seeing all that data and the lists of people who have overdosed fatal or nonfatal, has really put into perspective how important the work we do here is because it’s actually making an impact on not just the community, but the community I live in.”

Early has served in the Ohio Air National Guard for three and a half years and uses what he learned throughout his military career to propel him forward in his new job.

“The Air National Guard has provided me with the specific training needed to do this type of analysis and do this type of work,” said Early. “It’s provided me with the professionalism to come into a federal agency and really represent the Air National Guard and to uphold the standard we strive for.

Not only has the ANG helped provide Early with desired work skills, it has also continued a mission set the 179th has supported for years.

“This job ties in really well to what I do at the 179th, [at Mansfield] we support the counter drug program by transporting drugs controlled throughout the state and country in order to do that stuff safely,” said Early. “Both missions really are to help out the community. The 179th helps out during any humanitarian need [and the DEA] has the same impact in terms of helping the community and helping the state.”

Although he has already seen the impact of the program Early hopes to help the community more during his time at DEA Cleveland.

“I think this job is super rewarding and something you can directly see the impact that we do as analysts on the counter drug program,” said Early. “Some hopes that I have throughout my stint here is to make an impact within the community and take away from the amount of drugs coming into Cuyahoga County, Northeast Ohio, and into Ohio in general, and do everything I can to assist with that and bring that down so we see less overdoses. I’d like to see the work that I’m doing lead to less drugs on the streets.”

For more information on the DEA and their mission visit: