Drug Enforcement Administration
|Drug Enforcement Administration|
|Seal of the Drug Enforcement Administration|
|Badge of the Drug Enforcement Administration.|
|Flag of the Drug Enforcement Administration|
|Formed||July 1, 1973|
|Annual budget||US$2.415 billion (2010)|
|Legal personality||Governmental: Government agency|
|Federal agency||United States|
|Parent agency||United States Department of Justice|
The Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) is a United States federal law enforcement agency under the U.S. 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 July 1, 1973, by Reorganization Plan No. 2 of 1973, signed by President Richard Nixon on July 28. 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 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 April 19, 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 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.
- Deputy Administrator
- Human Resource Division
- Career Board
- Board of Professional Conduct
- Office of Training
- Operations Division
- Aviation Division
- Office of Operations Management
- Special Operations Division
- Office of Diversion Control
- Office of Global Enforcement
- Office of Financial Operations
- Intelligence Division
- Office of National Security Intelligence
- Office of Special Intelligence
- El Paso Intelligence Center
- OCDETF Fusion Center
- Financial Management Division
- Office of Acquisition and Relocation Management
- Office of Finance
- Office of Resource Management
- Operational Support Division
- Office of Administration
- Office of Information System
- Office of Forensic Science
- Office of Investigative Technology
- Inspection Division
- Office of Inspections
- Office of Professional Responsibility
- Office of Security Programs
- Field Divisions and Offices
- Human Resource Division
- Deputy Administrator
After receiving a conditional offer of employment, recruits must then make it through a 19 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 emphasis in small unit tactics, and close quarters battle.
The 1998 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, and agents can also qualify to use the Glock 27 and SIG Pro in .40 S&W, and they also have the option of using the newly appointed Smith & Wesson M&P series pistol.
Special Agents may qualify with their own personally-owned handguns and certain handguns are allowed to be used with permission from the DEA Firearms office in Quantico, VA, but they are required to qualify on all assigned weapons quarterly.
Trained to use shoulder-launched weapon, the H&K UMP40 is the standard SMG of DEA, although the Colt 9mm SMG may also be issued. They are issued a LWRCI M6A2 carbine as their new personal duty service rifle and also the Rock River Arms CAR-15 and shotguns such as the Remington 870 are one of the weapons trained.
Impact on the drug trade
The illegal drug trade is created by outlawing and restricting a good or service, therefore, the DEA is the primary cause of illegal drug trading and its surrounding violence. The enforcement of federal drug policy removes every 'drug' scheduled for DEA enforcement from the protection of the open market infrastructure, where information and commerce mutually exchanged from consenting parties are free and protected by free information, contractual obligations, property rights, and disputes resolution are adjudicated under the rule of law. With the removal of the protection under the rule of law; this subjects the good in question into a marketplace of coercion. Mutual exchange is subject to property rights violations by coercion through monopoly of force. It is this type of legal environment, which is known as a black market, the underground nature of these marketplaces makes legal enforcement of disclosure requirements and contractual obligations impossible. With both secrecy and lack of legal contractual obligations, grievances are no longer recognized under the law. With no possibility for legal redress, the participants who wish to engage in commerce may only enforce contractual agreements directly.
The difficulty of direct enforcement in the black market creates a demand for an alternative arbitrator to handle disputes. An arbitrator's desirability is measured by its enforcement capability and legitimacy within the black market. This legitimacy is based on reputation and recognition. Thus, competing arbitrators in black markets attempt to gain reputability through organization. As competing arbitrators attempt to increase their reputation by expanding the territory over which they operate they often bribe or blackmail members of the legal and law enforcement systems in order to continue operation without legal harassment. Since these arbitrator organizations are not legally recognized, organizations materialize in the form of street gangs or organised crime. The DEA essentially cites the arbitrators' means of enforcement, which usually take the form of intimidation, violence and/or kidnapping, as the primary byproduct of the good being exchanged, justifying continued measures to hunt sellers and buyers. Despite criticism for forcing participants into black markets and driving the violence surrounding drug trade by targeting all buyers and sellers, the DEA's position is that the very transaction is the cause of violence, and has repeated on various occasions to have been successful at preventing violence and creating a safer marketplace.
In 2005, the DEA seized a reported $1.4 billion in drug trade related assets and $477 million worth of drugs. 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, giving the DEA an efficiency rate of less than 1% at intercepting the flow of drugs into and within the U.S. Critics of this theory (including recipient of the Nobel Memorial Prize in Economic Sciences, 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 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 analgesics, depressants and stimulants manufactured for legitimate medical use can often carry potential for dependence or abuse. Therefore those scheduled substances have been brought under legal control for prevention and population safety. The goal of controls is to ensure that these "controlled substances" are readily available for medical use, while preventing their distribution for illicit distribution and non-medical use. This can be a difficult task, sometimes providing difficulty for legitimate patients and healthcare providers while circumventing illegal trade and consumption of scheduled drugs.
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. Prescription Database Management Programs (PDMP) aid and facilitate investigation and surveillance.
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 marijuana. Some individuals contemplating the nature of the DEA's charter advise that, based on danger, the DEA should be most focused on cocaine. Others suggest that, based on opiate popularity, the DEA should focus much more on prescription opiates used recreationally, which critics contend comes first before users switch to heroin.
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 [ Federal Aviation Authority ] 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 have little effect on those who choose not to obey them, and that the resources spent enforcing drug 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.
An April 2012 DEA raid on a California home led to the incarceration of Daniel Chong for several days under conditions of neglect. The 23 year-old student attending the University of California, San Diego was taken into custody along with eight other people when the DEA executed a raid on a suspected MDMA distribution operation at a residence that he was visiting to celebrate the April 20 cannabis "holiday" known as "420". According to Chong, the DEA agents questioned him and told him that he could go home, one even offering him a ride home, but instead he was transferred to a holding cell and confined for five days without any food or water, although Chong said he ingested a powdery substance that was left for him, which was later found to be methamphetamine. After five days and two failed suicide attempts, DEA agents found Chong and took him to the hospital, where he spent three days in intensive care since his kidneys were close to failing. No criminal charges were filed against Chong. A DEA spokesperson stated that the extended detention was accidental and the acting special agent in charge of the San Diego DEA office issued an apology to Chong. Chong disputes the claim of accidental neglect, saying that DEA personnel ignored his calls for help. His attorney stated an intent to file a claim against the federal government and some members of California's delegation to the Congress called for further investigation of the incident.
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."
The government of Bolivia has also taken similar steps to ban the DEA from operating in the country. In September 2008, Bolivia and the US drastically reduced diplomatic ties with one another, each withdrawing ambassadors from the other country. This occurred soon after Bolivian president Evo Morales expelled all DEA agents from the country due to a revolt in the traditional coca-growing Chapare Province. The Bolivian government claimed that it could not protect the agents, and Morales further accused the agency of helping incite the violence, which claimed 30 lives. National agencies were to take over control of drug management. Three years later, Bolivia and the US began to restore full diplomatic ties. However, Morales maintained that the DEA would remain unwelcome in the country, characterising it as an affront to Bolivia's "dignity and sovereignty".
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.
In 1999, the DEA opened the Drug Enforcement Administration Museum in Arlington, Virginia. The original permanent exhibit - Illegal Drugs in America: A Modern History - remains the museum's centerpiece. The exhibit features "the more than 150 year history of drugs and drug abuse and the DEA," including a considerable collection of drug paraphernalia and an image of a smiling drug vendor under the heading "Jimmy's Joint." An audio tour is available at the front desk of the museum on a small MP3 device and headphones from the late 1990s/early 2000s. A second exhibition gallery was opened in 2002, and features a changing exhibit. The current exhibit is titled "Good Medicine, Bad Behavior: Drug Diversion in America."
According to the museum's website, its mission is to "educate the American public on the history of drugs, drug addiction and drug law enforcement in the United States through engaging and state-of-the-art exhibits, displays, interactive stations and educational outreach programs." Some have noted that the museum's educational mission is inhibited by its relative inaccessibility and appearance of propaganda. While "Admission is free!!", the museum is only open to the public from 10:00am – 4:00pm, Tuesday - Friday. The number of annual visitors is relatively low compared with other museums in the Washington Metropolitan Area. The gift shop at the DEA museum sells items such as small stuffed K9 dogs and the annual DEA Holiday ornament. However, the gift shop is sometimes closed during the museum's normal operating hours.
- Departamento Administrativo de Seguridad (former Colombian counterpart)
- Federal Drug Control Service (Russian counterpart)
- 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
- Scottish Crime and Drug Enforcement Agency
- U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP)
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|Wikimedia Commons has media related to: Drug Enforcement Administration|
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- 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. 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)