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 has had at least two headquarters. In the early 1970s, it was located at 1405 Eye Street. In 1976, a fire broke out at this location, but caused no injuries. In 1989, the headquarters was moved to Army-Navy Drive in Arlington. In 1995, Timothy McVeigh targeted the Alfred P. Murrah Federal Building for attack 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. After the loss of several DEA employees in the Oklahoma City bombing, DEA Headquarters 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.
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.
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 a airborne division based in Fort Worth Alliance Airport, Texas. The current OA fleet consists of 106 aircraft and 124 DEA pilots.
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 shows little price sensitivity; 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 published in The Atlantic lending credence to the criticism shows that in every major U.S. city, from New York to Los Angeles, the price of street cocaine has dropped.
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.
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.
Others, such as the Cato Institute and the Drug Policy Alliance criticize the very existence of the DEA and the War on Drugs as inimical 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 are spent yearly, focusing largely on criminal law and demand reduction campaigns, which has resulted in thousands of U.S. citizens imprisoned. 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 currently 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, and often the quality of illegal cannabis compared to the procedural hoops a patient has to jump through when receiving 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.
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, making an especially strong effort to silence many of the most vocal opponents of the DEA's war on patients. In 2002 Federal Drug Agents raided the Wo/Men's Alliance for Medical Cannabis (WAMM) in Santa Cruz, CA. WAMM was a model collective growing medical cannabis with the full cooperation, permission, and knowledge of the Santa Cuz County Sheriff and Board of Supervisors.
"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.
More recently, the DEA has escalated its enforcement efforts on the recently-proliferated Los Angeles area medical cannabis collectives. Since Fall of 2006, the DEA has raided more than 21 locations in 32 different actions against legal medical cannabis collectives in the LA area. Hundreds of landlords were also threatened with arrest and Federal Asset Forfeiture for knowingly leasing properties to collectives. Many of these actions (both raids and landlord threats) have focused on collectives associated with the area's most vocal advocates for Safe Access to medical cannabis.
On July 25, 2007, the DEA raided the California Patients Group and Hollywood Compassionate Collective 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. Directly after the Los Angeles City Council called for an end to raids, the DEA retaliated by raiding California Patients Group and Hollywood Compasstionate Collective among a total of 10 Hollywood collectives that day.
|John R. Bartels, Jr.||1973–1975||Nixon, Ford|
|Peter B. Bensinger||1976–1981||Ford, Carter, Reagan|
|Francis M. Mullen||1981–1985||Reagan|
|John C. Lawn||1985-1990||Reagan, G.H.W. Bush|
|Robert C. Bonner||1990-1993||G.H.W. Bush, Clinton|
|Stephen H. Greene (Acting)||1993-1994||Clinton|
|Thomas A. Constantine||1994-1999||Clinton|
|Donnie R. Marshall||1999-2001||Clinton, G.W. Bush|
|Asa Hutchinson||2001-2003||G.W. Bush|
|Karen Tandy||2003-2007||G.W. Bush|
|Michele Leonhart (Acting)||2007–||G.W. Bush|