Template:Redirect Template:Infobox Law enforcement agency The Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) is a 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, it also has sole responsibility for coordinating and pursuing U.S. drug investigations abroad.

History and mandateEdit


The Drug Enforcement Administration was established on 1 July 1973, by Reorganization Plan No. 2 of 1973, signed by President Richard Nixon on 28 March 1973.[1] 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.[2] 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.[3]

From the early 1970s, DEA headquarters was located at 1405 I ("Eye") Street NW in downtown Washington DC. 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.[4]

On 19 April 1995, Timothy McVeigh attacked the Alfred P. Murrah Federal Building in Oklahoma City because it housed regional offices for the FBI, ATF, and DEA, all of which had carried out raids that he viewed as unjustified intrusions on the rights of the people;[5] 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.[6] Security measures include hydraulic steel roadplates to enforce standoff distance from the building, metal detectors, and guard stations.[7]

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.[8]

Administrators Edit

This table lists all Administrators of the DEA, their dates of service, and under which administration they served.

Administrator Term Administration
John R. Bartels, Jr. 1973–1975 Nixon, Ford
Peter B. Bensinger 1976–1981 Ford, Carter, Reagan
Francis M. Mullen 1981–1985[9] Reagan
John C. Lawn 1985–1990[10] Reagan, G.H.W. Bush
Robert C. Bonner 1990–1993 G.H.W. Bush, Clinton
Stephen H. Greene 1993–1994 Clinton
Thomas A. Constantine 1994–1999 Clinton
Donnie R. Marshall 1999–2001[11] Clinton, G.W. Bush
Asa Hutchinson 2001–2003 G.W. Bush
Karen Tandy 2003–2007 G.W. Bush
Michele Leonhart 2007–2010 G.W. Bush, Obama

Organization Edit


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.[12] 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.[13] 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 hard drug use are excluded from consideration. Investigation usually includes a polygraph test for special agent, diversion investigator, and intelligence research specialist positions.


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.[14]

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.[15]

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 EPIC near El Paso, TX.

Mobile Enforcement TeamsEdit

Mobile Enforcement Teams (METs) are specialized squads designed as a support service dedicated to attacking and dismantling drug trafficking and urban violence in close cooperation with local authorities. METs are located throughout the United States in DEA's 21 field divisions. They often focus their efforts in rural and some smaller urban areas that are deficient in the law enforcement resources to combat organized drug gangs.

Foreign-deployed Advisory and Support TeamsEdit

As of January 2010, FAST currently fields 5 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 Quantico Marine Corps base, Virginia. FAST originally was created to solely conduct missions in Afghanistan but has evolved into a global action arm for the 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.

Budget Edit

The 1998 DEA budget was directed toward three of five major goals of U.S. drug eradication:[16]

  • 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 ($1014.9 million) 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 agent's 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 like Benelli M3, Remington 870 and Mossberg 500 are used.They use assault rifles like Rock River Arms CAR-A4 DEA Carbine, SIG SG552 and Colt Model 933.

Impact on the drug trade Edit

Main article: Illegal drug trade

In 2005, the DEA seized a reported $1.4 billion in drug trade related assets and $477 million worth of drugs.[17] 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,[18] 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 Template:Citation needed.

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.[19] 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.[20][21][22] 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.[23] Ironically, this information was provided to the USDOJ by the DEA.

Narcotics registration Edit

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 Edit

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.

Template:Citation needed

MDMA DEA scheduling overturn Edit

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.[24][25][26]

Criticism Edit

File:DEA badge.PNG

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 a currently 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."[27]

The DEA is also criticized for focusing on the operations from which it can seize the most money,[28] 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.

Others, such as the Cato Institute[29] and the Drug Policy Alliance[30] 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.[31] 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.Template:Citation needed United States federal law currently registers cannabis as a Schedule I drug,[32] 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.Template:Citation needed

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."[33]

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.[34]

Raids on medical marijuana dispensaries Edit

File:DEA Raid protest.jpg

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.[35]

"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."[36][37]

Despite the fact that the Wo/Men's Alliance for Medical Marijuana has never bought or sold marijuana, the DEA still raided the collective of terminally ill patients.Template:Citation needed

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 ACLU hailed the decision as "a first-of-its-kind ruling.[38]"

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, CA. Earlier that day, the operators of those collectives participated in a press conference with LA City Councilmembers 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.

See also Edit



  1. Template:Citeweb
  2. Template:Cite web
  3. Template:Cite web
  5. Template:Cite book
  8. Template:Cite web
  9. From July 1981 - November 1983, Mullen served as Acting Administrator. He was nominated by President Ronald Reagan on 21 January 1982, confirmed by the U.S. Senate on 30 September 1983, and sworn in as Administrator on 10 November 1983.
  10. From March - July 1985, Lawn served as Acting Administrator. He was nominated by President Reagan on 4 April 1985, confirmed by the U.S. Senate on 16 July 1985, and sworn in as Administrator on 26 July 1985.
  11. From July 1999 - June 2000, Marshall served as Acting Administrator.
  12. Template:Cite web
  13. Template:Cite web
  14. Template:Cite web
  15. Template:Cite web
  16. Template:Cite web
  17. Template:Cite web
  18. Template:Cite web
  20. Figure 4 Source: ONDCP. 1998 National Drug Control Strategy. Table 20.
  21. Figure 5 Source: ONDCP. 1998 National Drug Control Strategy. Table 20.
  22. Lies, Damn Lies and Drug War Statistics at Google Books
  24. 24 MDMA, Chorles S. Grob and Russell E Polond
  25. Video Documentary: "Hooked - Illegal Drugs and How They Got That Way: LSD, Ecstasy and Raves",The History Channel
  26. "Documents from the DEA Scheduling Hearing of MDMA, 1984-1988
  27. Millennium Marijuana March
  28. Policing for Profit: The Drug War's Hidden Economic Agenda
  29. Template:Cite web
  30. Template:Cite web
  31. US Department of Justice
  33. Template:Cite web
  34. Template:Cite web
  35. Feds Raid 11 Medical Marijuana Clinics, DEA Does Not Recognize California Law legalizing medical use of pot

External linksEdit

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