Virginia Guard assists DEA in drug destruction

Virginia Guard Soldiers from the Virginia National Guard Counterdrug Program and 2nd Battalion, 224th Aviation Regiment help load approximately 14,000 pounds of unwanted and expired prescription drugs before hauling the drugs to an incinerator for destruction in Northern Virginia Oct. 12 in Richmond, Va. (Photo by Staff Sgt. Terra C. Gatti, Virginia Guard Public Affairs)

RICHMOND, Va. — Soldiers from Company E, 2nd Battalion, 224th Aviation Regiment supporting the Virginia National Guard Counterdrug Program helped Richmond Drug Enforcement Administration agents load approximately 14,000 pounds of unwanted and expired prescription drugs into Virginia Guard FMTVs Oct. 12 before hauling the drugs north for destruction at a Northern Virginia incinerator.

“Our mission today is to support the DEA in their Drug Take Back mission and our support role here is to be transporters of the pharmaceuticals they collected and haul them to the incinerator,” explained Master Sgt. Brian Wright, noncommissioned officer-in-charge of the Counterdrug Task Force.

The drugs were collected from sites throughout Virginia by local law enforcement agencies, and then transported to the centrally located DEA office in Richmond as part of the DEA’s National Take-Back Initiative, designed to properly dispose of unwanted, expired and potentially dangerous prescription drugs.

“This gives us multi-jurisdictional training,” Wright said. “This is also one way we can help the citizens of the commonwealth get rid of prescription drugs in the proper manner, which is important because prescription drug abuse in on the rise.”

Along with supporting state, local and federal entities, the event also allowed military transporters to gain real world experience with their assigned equipment.

“Today they’re getting to practice transport with trailers,” said Wright. “It’s a great opportunity for them and they’re getting to learn the trucks better.”

“I love driving,” said Spc. Richard Tesi, from the 2-224th. “I haven’t seen a trailer since 88M school, so it’s good to actually get to drive something that has something attached to it, to get a little more training.”

For Tesi, Virginia National Guard involvement in events like the Drug Take Back mission highlights the variety of missions the National Guard can and does accomplish.

“We’re not just one weekend a month,” Tesi said. “We help out other agencies, we help out civilians, and we help out within our regular jobs across the state and across the country.”

To view more photos from the event, visit: