An Overview Of The Drug Enforcement Administration

The United States Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) was created in 1973 by President Nixon after the government noticed an alarming rise in recreational drug use and drug-related crime. A division of the Department of Justice, the DEA is tasked with enforcing the controlled substances (illegal drug) laws by apprehending offenders to be prosecuted for criminal and civil crimes. The DEA is the largest and most effective anti-drug organization in the world, with 222 domestic locations and 86 foreign offices in 67 countries.

Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) Responsibilities

Besides bringing criminal drug offenders and members of drug gangs to justice, the DEA: 

  • Manages a drug intelligence program in cooperation with state, local, and foreign officials.
  • Enforces anti-drug laws such as international treaties, the federal Controlled Substances Act of 1970, and the Combat Methamphetamine Epidemic Act of 2005.
  • Creates programs to reduce the availability of illegal drugs in the U.S. (e.g. crop eradication and substitution).
  • Works with the United Nations, Interpol, foreign countries, and other international organizations to create and enforce international drug control programs.
  • Creates educational programs to prevent drug abuse in the U.S. under the Demand Reduction Program.
  • Monitors legitimately manufactured pharmaceuticals to prevent their diversion to illegal markets.
  • Maintains a Most Wanted Fugitives list of international drug offenders.
  • Assists victims and witnesses of drug crimes through the Victim-Witness Assistance Program (VWAP).


DEA Intelligence Program

Under the Drug Enforcement Administration's Intelligence Program, federal, state, and local agencies collect and exchange information about illegal drug trafficking activities, enabling them to make more arrests. In 1992, the DEA developed the National Drug Pointer Index (NDPIX), a "switchboard" where law enforcement agencies can input information about a current drug investigative target and immediately be alerted if another authority has that target under active investigation.

The DEA collects three types of drug intelligence - tactical, investigative, and strategic. Tactical information is used for arrests, seizures, and interdictions. Investigative data is collected for use during prosecutions. Strategic intelligence enables agents to create effective policies and distribute resources in accordance with worldwide drug trafficking trends and the locations of distribution networks. The DEA has more than 680 Intelligence Analysts in multiple locations around the world, in the Intelligence Division at DEA Headquarters, and in the El Paso Intelligence Center (EPIC), which targets international drug smuggling and terrorist activities.

DEA Office of Diversion Control

The DEA Office of Diversion Control carefully monitors the manufacture and sale of all pharmaceuticals to ensure drugs aren’t diverted to illegal uses. Under federal law, all businesses and workers handling controlled substances must register with the DEA, follow drug security rules, and keep strict records. The Office of Diversion Control also enforces international drug import-export treaties and the following federal statutes -

Chemical Diversion and Trafficking Act of 1988, Domestic Chemical Diversion Control Act of 1993, Comprehensive Methamphetamine Control Act of 1996, Methamphetamine Anti-Proliferation Act of 2000, and Combat Methamphetamine Epidemic Act of 2005.

DEA Demand Reduction Program

The Demand Reduction Program (DRP) takes a three-tiered approach to combat the demand for drugs: law enforcement, prevention, and treatment. DRP staff compile educational information and distribute it through conferences, school forums, and websites. The program’s is written for a teen audience, while is geared toward educating parents and caregivers.

Get Your Case Reviewed by an Experienced Local Criminal Defense Lawyer

If you find yourself the subject of a DEA investigation or if you're facing drug charges, you'll want to make sure that you have a skilled criminal defense attorney assisting you. A good attorney knows how to challenge the process and the evidence and can even help to establish favorable evidence in the record.


Originally posted on the FindLaw Blog, Criminal Law Section


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