The Drug Enforcement Agency

June 2, 2017 James Clayton Welch

Meet the agency fighting illegal drugs

The Drug Enforcement Agency

No, they do not enforce drug use. In fact, the Drug Enforcement Agency, or the DEA, is the agency that enforces the controlled substances laws and regulation of the United States. Well, at least that what its website says. This is the agency that brings to justice criminal organizations involved in growing, manufacturing, and distributing controlled substances.

Established in 1973 by Richard Nixon, DEA has, first and foremost, the mission to keep Americans from getting their hands on drugs and has waged a “war” that continues until today. An agency riddled with scandal and controversy, DEA has expanded its activities worldwide, attracting many criticisms from those who think their methods are misguided. DEA is headed by someone called the administer of drug enforcement, and this person is a presidential appointee and has to be confirmed by the Senate (currently Chuck Rosenberg, who was appointed in 2015), while the rest are career government employees.

It runs with a huge budget, something amounting to billions, and is directed at eradicating drug demand using antilegalization education, reduction of drug-related crime and violence, and breaking foreign and domestic sources of supply.

Unfortunately for the DEA, it hasn’t had the best track record. Although it has made a significant impact in seizing drugs from around the globe, its methods and employees have been scrutinized and seen as faulty. And because of the activities of other government organizations like the CIA encouraging the selling of cocaine in California to fund the Nicaraguan contras, the DEA’s efforts are for naught. Largely unchecked by Congress, the DEA has been under fire lately for its current behavior. Lack of proper research, being influenced by lobbyists, and employees behaving badly are just the tip of the iceberg of problems the DEA is experiencing right now.

Agents of the DEA are issued Glock 17 and Glock 19 guns and are qualified to carry them around. However, being licensed to carry a firearm doesn’t automatically mean the person is responsible, and a few DEA agents have left their weapons (around ninety-one and counting since a report that came out in 2008) in supermarkets, bars, on top of vehicles, hotel rooms, and in one instance, in a trash basket at work. In 2012, a DEA agent’s loaded gun was left in an airport toilet beyond a security checkpoint in Denver, Colorado. Sometimes, even classified documents are at risk, like in an incident in Fairbanks, Alaska, where key documents pertaining to a methamphetamine case were left in the house of the suspect being arrested.

The DEA isn’t free from corruption either. In the 1980s, some very enterprising agents made millions off selling drugs they had confiscated from the streets. There was even an incident involving a DEA agent stealing cocaine directly from the evidence vault to an informant and also reportedly stealing cash from drug busts. Talk about drug money, huh?

But the icing on the cake on these scandals was in 2015, when DEA agents had sex parties with prostitutes hired by local drug cartels that lasted several years until the Justice Department caught on. This happened in Colombia, a country that produces a lot of cocaine.

The point of showing all these incidents is that, no matter how powerful the institution or how noble the purpose, men will always show their dark sides, especially when facing temptations. The question in the end is, if we cannot trust the government, whom can we trust?

Let’s talk about this. I’d love to hear from you. Leave your comments below, or send me a tweet at @JamesCWelch.


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