- Drug Enforcement Administration
Drug Enforcement Administration Abbreviation DEA Seal of the Drug Enforcement Administration Badge of the Drug Enforcement Administration. Agency overview Formed July 1, 1973 Preceding agencies Employees 10,784 (2009) Annual budget US$2.415 billion (2010) Legal personality Governmental: Government agency Jurisdictional structure Federal agency United States General nature
- Federal law enforcement
- Civilian agency
Operational structure Headquarters Arlington, Virginia Special Agents 5,500+ Agency executives
- Michele Leonhart, Administrator
- Thomas M. Harrigan, Chief of Operations
Parent agency United States Department of Justice Website http://www.usdoj.gov/dea/
The Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) is a federal law enforcement agency under the United States Department of Justice, tasked with combating drug smuggling and use within the United States. Not only is the DEA the lead agency for domestic enforcement of the Controlled Substances Act, sharing concurrent jurisdiction with the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) and Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE), it also has sole responsibility for coordinating and pursuing U.S. drug investigations abroad.
History and mandate
The Drug Enforcement Administration was established on 1 July 1973, by Reorganization Plan No. 2 of 1973, signed by President Richard Nixon on 28 July 1973. It proposed the creation of a single federal agency to enforce the federal drug laws as well as consolidate and coordinate the government's drug control activities. Congress accepted the proposal, as they were concerned with the growing availability of drugs. As a result, the Bureau of Narcotics and Dangerous Drugs (BNDD), the Office of Drug Abuse Law Enforcement (ODALE), and other federal offices merged together to create the DEA.
From the early 1970s, DEA headquarters was located at 1405 I ("Eye") Street NW in downtown Washington, D.C. With the overall growth of the agency in the 1980s (owing to the increased emphasis on federal drug law enforcement efforts) and a concurrent growth in the headquarters staff, DEA began to search for a new headquarters location; locations in Arkansas, Mississippi, and various abandoned military bases around the U.S. were considered. However, then-Attorney General Edwin Meese determined that the headquarters had to be located in close proximity to the Attorney General's office. Thus, in 1989, the headquarters relocated to 600-700 Army-Navy Drive in the Pentagon City area of Arlington, Virginia, near the Metro station with the same name.
On 19 April 1995, Timothy McVeigh attacked the Alfred P. Murrah Federal Building in Oklahoma City because it housed regional offices for the FBI, Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives (ATF), and DEA, all of which had carried out raids that he viewed as unjustified intrusions on the rights of the people; this attack caused the deaths of two DEA employees, one task force member, and two contractors in the Oklahoma City bombing. Subsequently, the DEA headquarters complex was classified as a Level IV installation under United States federal building security standards, meaning it was to be considered a high-risk law enforcement target for terrorists. Security measures include hydraulic steel roadplates to enforce standoff distance from the building, metal detectors, and guard stations.
In 1999, the DEA opened the Drug Enforcement Administration Museum in Arlington, Virginia. In February 2003, the DEA established a Digital Evidence Laboratory within its Office of Forensic Sciences.
The DEA is headed by an Administrator of Drug Enforcement appointed by the President of the United States and confirmed by the U.S. Senate. The Administrator reports to the Attorney General through the Deputy Attorney General. The Administrator is assisted by a Deputy Administrator, the Chief of Operations, the Chief Inspector, and three Assistant Administrators (for the Operations Support, Intelligence, and Human Resources Divisions). Other senior staff include the Chief Financial Officer and the Chief Counsel. The Administrator and Deputy Administrator are the only Presidentially-appointed personnel in the DEA; all other DEA officials are career government employees. DEA's headquarters is located in Arlington, Virginia across from the Pentagon. It maintains its own DEA Academy located on the United States Marine Corps base at Quantico, Virginia along with the FBI Academy. It maintains 21 domestic field divisions with 227 field offices and 86 foreign offices in 62 countries. With a budget exceeding 2.415 billion dollars, DEA employs over 10,800 people, including over 5,500 Special Agents. Becoming a Special Agent with the DEA is a competitive process. After receiving a conditional offer of employment, recruits must then make it through a 16 week rigorous training which consist of firearms proficiency including basic marksmanship, weapons safety, tactical shooting, and deadly force decision training. In order to graduate, students must maintain an academic average of 80 percent on academic examinations, pass the firearms qualification test, successfully demonstrate leadership and sound decision-making in practical scenarios, and pass rigorous physical task tests. Upon graduation, recruits earn themselves the title of DEA Special Agent.
Job applicants who have a history of any drug use are excluded from consideration. Investigation usually includes a polygraph test for special agent, diversion investigator, and intelligence research specialist positions.
Applicants who are found, through investigation or personal admission, to have experimented with or used narcotics or dangerous drugs, except those medically prescribed, will not be considered for employment with the Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA). Exceptions to this policy may be made for applicants who admit to limited youthful and experimental use of marijuana. Such applicants may be considered for employment if there is no evidence of regular, confirmed usage and the full-field background investigation and results of the other steps in the process are otherwise favorable.
The DEA's relatively firm stance on this issue is in contrast to that of the Federal Bureau of Investigation, which, in 2005, considered relaxing its hiring policy relevant to individual drug use history.
The DEA Aviation Division or Office of Aviation Operations (OA) (formerly Aviation Section) is an airborne division based in Fort Worth Alliance Airport, Texas. The current OA fleet consists of 106 aircraft and 124 DEA pilots.
The DEA shares a communications system with the Department of Defense for communication with state and regional enforcement independent of the Department of Justice and police information systems and is coordinated by an information command center called the El Paso Intelligence Center (EPIC) near El Paso, Texas.
Foreign-deployed Advisory and Support Teams
As of January 2010, FAST fields five teams. One team is always stationed in Afghanistan conducting Counter Narcotics (CN), Counter Terrorism (CT), Direct Action (DA) missions. The remaining four teams are stationed at Marine Corps Base Quantico, Virginia. FAST originally was created to solely conduct missions in Afghanistan but has evolved into a global action arm for the US Department of Justice and DEA.
Selection for FAST is extremely difficult; attrition rates are usually above 50%. Selection is rumored to last 8 weeks where events such as timed runs, timed ruck sack marches, land navigation and many other events are conducted daily. Once selection is complete, advanced training begins with empahsis in small unit tactics, and close quarters battle.
The 2010 DEA budget was directed toward three of five major goals of U.S. drug eradication:
- Demand reduction ($3.3 million) via anti-legalization education, training for law enforcement personnel, youth programs, support for community-based coalitions, and sports drug awareness programs.
- Reduction of drug-related crime and violence ($181.8 million) funding state and local teams and mobile enforcement teams.
- Breaking foreign and domestic sources of supply ($1.0149 billion) via domestic cannabis eradication/suppression; domestic enforcement; research, engineering, and technical operations; the Foreign Cooperative Investigations Program; intelligence operations (financial intelligence, operational intelligence, strategic intelligence, and the El Paso Intelligence Center); and drug and chemical diversion control.
DEA agents' primary service weapons are the Glock 22 and Glock 23 in .40 S&W caliber ammunition, DEA agents can also qualify to use the Glock 27 and SIG Pro in .40 S&W. They also have the option of using the newly appointed Smith & Wesson M&P series pistol. H&K UMP40 in .40 S&W is the standard SMG. Shotguns such as the Remington 870 are used. They use assault rifles like Rock River Arms CAR-A4 DEA Carbine. In June 11th 2009, DEA made a contract with LWRC rifle company and DEA agents are now using their new LWRCI M6A2 Carbines as their new personal duty service rifle. DEA Special Agents (SA's) may also qualify with their own personally-owned handguns. Certain handguns are allowed to be used with permission from the DEA Firearms office in Quantico, VA. DEA SA's are required to qualify on all assigned weapons quarterly.
Impact on the drug trade
In 2005, the DEA seized a reported $1.4 billion in drug trade related assets and $477 million worth of drugs. However, according to the White House's Office of Drug Control Policy, the total value of all of the drugs sold in the U.S. is as much as $64 billion a year, making the DEA's efforts to intercept the flow of drugs into and within the U.S. less than 1% effective. Defenders of the agency's performance record argue that the DEA has had a positive effect beyond their relatively small annual seizures by placing pressure on traffickers, raising prices for consumers which may reduce the affordability of drugs.
Critics of this theory (including the Nobel Prize winning economist Milton Friedman, prior to his death a member of Law Enforcement Against Prohibition) point out that demand for illegal drugs is inelastic; the people who are buying drugs will continue to buy them with little regard to price, often turning to crime to support expensive drug habits when the drug prices rise. One recent study showed that the price of cocaine and methamphetamine is the highest it has ever been while the quality of both is at its lowest point ever. This is contrary to a collection of data done by the Office of National Drug Control Policy, which states that purity of street drugs has increased, while price has decreased. In sharp contrast to the statistics presented by the DEA, the United States Department of Justice released data in 2003 showing that purity of methamphetamine was on the rise.
The DEA has a registration system in place which authorizes medical professionals, researchers and manufacturers access to "Schedule I" drugs, as well as Schedules 2, 3, 4 and 5. Authorized registrants apply for and, if granted, receive a "DEA number". An entity that has been issued a DEA number is authorized to manufacture (drug companies), distribute, research, prescribe (doctors, nurse practitioners and physician assistants, etc.) or dispense (pharmacy) a controlled substance.
Diversion control system
Many problems associated with drug abuse are the result of legitimately-manufactured controlled substances being diverted from their lawful purpose into the illicit drug traffic. Many of the narcotics, depressants and stimulants manufactured for legitimate medical use are subject to abuse, and have therefore been brought under legal control. The goal of controls is to ensure that these "controlled substances" are readily available for medical use, while preventing their distribution for illicit sale and abuse.
Under federal law, all businesses which manufacture or distribute controlled drugs, all health professionals entitled to dispense, administer or prescribe them, and all pharmacies entitled to fill prescriptions must register with the DEA. Registrants must comply with a series of regulatory requirements relating to drug security, records accountability, and adherence to standards.
All of these investigations are conducted by Diversion Investigators (DIs). DIs conduct investigations to uncover and investigate suspected sources of diversion and take appropriate civil and administrative actions.
MDMA DEA scheduling overturn
In 1985 MDMA and its analogues were under review by the American government as a drug for potential of abuse. During this time, several public hearings on the new drug were held by the DEA. Based on all of the evidence and facts presented at the time, the DEA's administrative law judge did not see MDMA and its analogues as being of large concern and recommended that they be placed in Schedule III. The DEA administrator, expressing concern for abuse potential, overruled the recommendation and ruled that MDMA be put in Schedule I, the Controlled Substances Act's most restrictive category.
The DEA has been criticized for placing highly restrictive schedules on a few drugs which researchers in the fields of pharmacology and medicine regard as having medical uses. Critics assert that some such decisions are motivated primarily by political factors stemming from the U.S. government's War on Drugs, and that many benefits of such substances remain unrecognized due to the difficulty of conducting scientific research. A counterpoint to that criticism is that under the Controlled Substances Act it is the Department of Health and Human Services (through the Food and Drug Administration and the National Institute on Drug Abuse), not the DEA, which has the legal responsibility to make scientific and medical determinations with respect to drug scheduling; no drug can be scheduled if the Secretary of Health and Human Services recommends against it on a scientific or medical basis, and no drug can be placed in the most restrictive schedule (Schedule I) if DHHS finds that the drug has an accepted medical use. Jon Gettman's essay Science and the End of Marijuana Prohibition describes the DEA as "a fall guy to deflect responsibility from the key decision-makers" and opines, "HHS calls the shots when it comes to marijuana prohibition, and the cops at DEA and the general over at ONDCP take the heat."
The DEA is also criticized for focusing on the operations from which it can seize the most money, namely the organized cross-border trafficking of heroin and cocaine. Some individuals contemplating the nature of the DEA's charter advise that, based on order of popularity, the DEA should be most focused on marijuana. Others suggest that, based on opiate popularity, the DEA should focus much more on prescription opiates used recreationally, which critics contend is far more widespread than heroin use. Some scheduled substances are extremely rare, with no clear reason behind the scheduling of 4-Methyl-aminorex or bufotenine.
Practitioners who legally prescribe medicine however must possess a valid DEA license. According to federal law the budget of the entire DEA is to be paid by these license fees. In 1984 a three year license cost $25. In 2009 the fee for a three year license was $551. Some have likened this approach to license fees unreasonable, "like making pilot licenses support the entire FAA budget."
The total cost of the DEA from 1972 to 2009 according to the agency website was $536,367,800,000.00 with 10,784 employees in 2009. For the data available for the years 1986 to 2009, the average cost per arrest made was $9,893.09 
Others, such as the Cato Institute and the Drug Policy Alliance criticize the very existence of the DEA and the War on Drugs as both hostile, and contrary, to the concept of civil liberties by arguing that anybody should be free to put any substance they choose into their own bodies for any reason, particularly when legal drugs such as alcohol, tobacco and prescription drugs are also open to abuse, and that any harm caused by a drug user or addict to the general public is a case of conflicting civil rights. Recurrently, billions of dollars are spent yearly, focusing largely on criminal law and demand reduction campaigns, which has resulted in the imprisonments of thousands of U.S. citizens. Demand for recreational drugs is somewhat static as the market for most illegal drugs has been saturated, forcing the cartels to expand their market to Europe and other areas than the United States. United States federal law registers cannabis as a Schedule I drug, yet it is common for illicit drugs such as cannabis to be widely available in most urban, suburban, and even rural areas in the United States, which leads drug legalization proponents to claim that drug laws, like most other laws, have little effect on those who choose not to obey them, and that the resources spent enforcing drug laws, as well as many other laws, are wasted. As it relates to the DEA specifically, the vast majority of individual arrests stemming from illegal drug possession and distribution are narrow and more local in scope and are made by local law enforcement officers, while the DEA tends to focus on larger, interstate and international distribution networks and the higher ranking members of such organizations in addition to operating in conjunction with other local, state, and federal law enforcement agencies along U.S. borders.
Some groups advocate legalization of certain controlled substances under the premise that doing so may reduce the volume of illicit trafficking and associated crime as well as yield a valuable tax source, although some of the results of drug legalization have raised doubt about some of these beliefs. For example, marijuana is now available as a palliative agent, in Canada, with a medical prescription. Yet 86% of Canadians with HIV/AIDS, eligible for a prescription, continue to obtain marijuana illegally (AIDS Care. 2007 Apr;19(4):500-6.) However, this could be due to the availability or quality of illegal cannabis compared to provisions by government sources. Bureaucratic impediments may also discourage patients from actually attempting to receive it from the government.
The DEA was accused in 2005 by the Venezuelan government of collaborating with drug traffickers, after which President Hugo Chávez decided to end any collaboration with the agency. In 2007, after the U.S. State Department criticized Venezuela in its annual report on drug trafficking, the Venezuelan Minister of Justice reiterated the accusations: "A large quantity of drug shipments left the country through that organization,.....We were in the presence of a new drug cartel."
In the Netherlands, both the Dutch government and the DEA have been criticized for violations of Dutch sovereignty in drug investigations. According to Peter R. de Vries, a Dutch journalist present at the 2005 trial of Henk Orlando Rommy, the DEA has admitted to activities on Dutch soil. Earlier, then minister of justice Piet Hein Donner, had denied to the Dutch parliament that he had given permission to the DEA for any such activities, which would have been a requirement by Dutch law in order to allow foreign agents to act within the territory.
Raids on medical marijuana dispensaries
The DEA has taken a particularly strong stance on enforcement of the Controlled Substances Act on persons and organizations acting within state laws that allow medical cannabis cultivation and distribution.
"The people of California and the County of Santa Cruz have overwhelmingly supported the provision of medical marijuana for people who have serious illnesses," county Supervisor Mardi Wormhoudt told the San Francisco Gate. "These people (blocking the road) are people with AIDS and cancer and other grave illnesses. To attack these people, who work collectively and have never taken money for their work, is outrageous."
As a result, the Wo/Men's Alliance for Medical Marijuana, with the City and County of Santa Cruz, has sued the DEA, Attorney General Michael Mukasey, and the ONDCP. The most recent court decision rejected the government's motion to dismiss, which allows discovery to move forward. The American Civil Liberties Union hailed the decision as "a first-of-its-kind ruling. "
More recently, the DEA has escalated its enforcement efforts on the recently-proliferated Los Angeles area medical cannabis collectives. On July 25, 2007, the DEA raided the California Patients Group, Hollywood Compassionate Collective, and Natural Hybrid (NHI Caregivers) in Hollywood, California. Earlier that day, the operators of those collectives participated in a press conference with LA City Council members announcing the City's intention to regulate the collectives and asking the DEA to halt raids on collectives while the City drafted regulations. The dispensary operator of Natural Hybrid (NHI Caregivers) was forced to close down the collective due to the tremendous loss caused by the DEA conducted joint task force raid against them.
- Departamento Administrativo de Seguridad
- Diplomatic Security Service (DSS), U.S. State Department
- Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI)
- Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE)
- List of United States federal law enforcement agencies
- Operation Panama Express
- Regulation of therapeutic goods in the United States
- U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP)
- Scottish Crime and Drug Enforcement Agency
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- Harry J. Anslinger and Will Oursler (1961), The Murderers: The Story of the Narcotic Gangs, New York: Farrar, Straus and Cudahy.
- Edward Jay Epstein (1977), Agency of Fear: Opiates and Political Power in America, New York: Putnam.
- DEA official web site
- The History of the DEA from 1973 to 1998
- List of former DEA Administrators
- Proposed and final federal regulations from the Drug Enforcement Administration
- Agency of Fear - The History of the origins of the DEA in the Nixon White House
- Results of Prohibition The financial costs of drug use and drug prohibition in the U.S., impact on levels of drug use and prices.
- A response to the DEA web site
- "98 Percent Of All Domestically Eradicated Marijuana Is "Ditchweed," DEA Admits". NORML News Archive. 7 September 2006. http://www.norml.org/index.cfm?Group_ID=7033. Retrieved 2007-03-27.
- Major Studies of Drugs and Drug Policy Full text of major government commission reports on the effects of drug enforcement
- The Drug Hang-Up by Rufus King A history of the drug laws with special emphasis on the predecessors to the DEA
- DEA Watch - A dissenting view of the DEA
- Drug Enforcement Administration Meeting Notices and Rule Changes from The Federal Register RSS Feed
- DEA Lookup.com Commercial DEA number database search service
- Office of Diversion Control
- Reorganization Plan No. 2 of 1973 - Appendix to Title 5, U.S. Code
- Get Smart About Drugs - A DEA Resource for Parents
- DEA Demand Reduction - Street Smart Prevention
- Drug Enforcement Administration Citizens Academy (DEA CA)
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