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FBI and DEA leaders discuss St. Louis crime, drug strategies

ST. LOUIS — Both the new special agents in charge of the DEA and FBI sit down with FOX 2’s Vic Faust.

Rich Quinn of the FBI and William Callahan of the DEA have their work cut out in St. Louis. Violent crimes rates are high and there is an opioid crisis, but there also appears to be a unique landscape shaping up.

"We also have a new US Attorney, we have a new special agent in charge of the DEA, a new head of the ATF. John Hayden is the new chief of police in St. Louis. All of us bring a diversity of background experience and a freshness of perspective," said Rich Quinn.

Quinn was raised in Florissant but has been gone working in other major cities for 30 years. He says the city he left is not the same one he sees now. He plans on being part of the solution to the problem.

"The fact is there are too many guns on the street and too many drugs. They are inextricably linked. So when you have those two links you will have violent crime," said Rich Quinn.

William Callahan comes to St. Louis after spending the majority of his career in the New York City office. I asked what he sees as St. Louis' biggest threat.

"The heroin problem. Heroin mixed with fentanyl problem. And violence related to drug activity," said William Callahan.

Callahan says 700 opioid overdose deaths in 2016 is a crisis. That doesn't even count all the non-fatal overdoses where people were saved by Narcan. Callahan says the main source of drugs are coming in from Mexico.

"Working with officers in the country and overseas that we can tie in organizations, identify them, and bring them to justice here in St. Louis area," said William Callahan.

Both Callahan and Quinn have strategies with local, state and federal agencies to combat the crime. Quinn says its impossible to arrest ourselves out of the situation and the safety of communities cant be outsourced. They need better relationships with citizens.

"It's hard to hate up close.  We are trying to let the community know that we have a common goal and interest. That's the safety of the community," said Rich Quinn.

Callahan has a three-prong approach: Unrelenting enforcement with all partners, a public awareness campaign to reach all people and something else.

"Drawing attention and resources for our healthcare partners that provide recovery and medical care to those impacted by this disease," said William Callahan.

Thursday is also the 110-year anniversary of the FBI. The St. Louis office has been in operation for 108 years.