DEA, Alaska ANG & Fairchild Airmen solve prescription drug disposal

  • Published
  • By Senior Airman Ryan Lackey
  • 92nd Air Refueling Wing Public Affairs
Team Fairchild Airmen and Alaska Air National Guardsmen assisted the U.S. Drug Enforcement Agency in the secure transport of more than two tons of surrendered prescription medications from Anchorage to Fairchild Air Force Base.

The National Prescription Drug Take Back Program was created by the DEA to help prevent medication abuse by facilitating the safe disposal of expired and unneeded medications from individuals and drug-handling facilities.

Every state has a DEA-backed program that biannually collects surrendered medications and disposes of them. After the most recent NPDTP event on Oct. 27, the Alaska DEA hit a snag disposing of more than two tons of medication, prompting the Alaska Air National Guard and Fairchild AFB to provide support.

“The Anchorage DEA office worked with many local law enforcement officers to help collect old medications,” said Chief Master Sgt. Bryan Morberg, AK Army National Guard counter-drug investigative case analyst. “However, the contractor previously used to destroy the medication was no longer available, which posed a problem for disposal.”

The Spokane DEA was the next closest location that could take possession of the medication for proper disposal, but with more than 1,000 miles between the two locations, transportation was another hurdle to overcome.

More than 4,000 lbs of cargo was deemed too costly to securely ship by commercial carriers, so the Alaska ANG offered to assist the DEA transport the medications. The 176th Wing’s 211th Rescue Squadron was already scheduled for a training mission to Fairchild AFB on a HC-130J Combat King II aircraft, and arranged to alter the mission to bring cargo along.

“Team Fairchild was contacted by the Spokane DEA with a request to assist in receiving and transporting the cargo,” said Mike Dery, 92nd ARW installation deployment officer. “It was a coordinated effort between the DEA, the 176th Wing Airmen, the 211th Rescue Squadron crew and Fairchild Airmen that made this happen.”

The 211th’s C-130 landed here Nov. 6, Team Fairchild Airmen received the cargo, loaded it onto secure transports, and moved it to a local incinerator under the supervision of DEA agents.

"We'd like to reduce the impact of drug problems in our state, and we can do that with the agencies that we're afforded the opportunity to partner with," said 1st Lt. Kimberly Conkling, AKANG Counterdrug Support program coordinator.

More than 914,000 pounds of medications were collected from nearly 6,000 collection sites nationwide during the latest prescription medication collection event. The collaboration between the DEA, Air Force and the National Guard to ensure proper disposal highlights how an important, common cause can bring multiple agencies together as a Total Force team to get the mission done.