Myles Ambrose

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Myles Ambrose
Born July 21, 1926
New York City, U.S.
Died June 3, 2014 (2014-06-04) (aged 87)
Leesburg, Virginia, U.S.
Cause of death Congestive heart failure
Education New Hampton School
Alma mater Manhattan College
New York Law School
Occupation Lawyer, government official
Political party Republican Party
Spouse(s) Elaine Miller
Joan Fitzpatrick
Children 3 sons, 2 daughters
Parent(s) Arthur Ambrose
Ann Campbell

Myles Joseph Ambrose (July 21, 1926 – June 3, 2014) was an American lawyer and United States federal government official. He served as the Commissioner of Customs under President Richard M. Nixon and paved the way for the establishment of the Drug Enforcement Administration.

Early life[edit]

Myles Ambrose was born on July 21, 1926 in The Bronx, New York.[1][2][3] His father, Arthur Ambrose, was a stockbrocker on Wall Street.[1] His mother, Ann Campbell, was a singer.[1]

Ambrose was educated at the New Hampton School.[1] He received his bachelor's degree in business administration from Manhattan College in 1948 and his law degree from New York Law School in 1952.[1][2]


Ambrose started his career as a lawyer in New York City.[1] He served as an assistant United States Attorney for the Southern District of New York from 1954 to 1957.[1] He joined the United States Department of the Treasury in 1957, when he was appointed as chief coordinator of law enforcement and he prosecuted gang members.[1][2] From 1960 to 1963, he served as the executive director of the Waterfront Commission of New York Harbor,[1] where he prosecuted organized crime figures.[2] He returned to legal practice in Washington, D.C. in 1963.[2]

In 1969, Ambrose was appointed as the Commissioner of Customs under President Richard M. Nixon.[2] Under his leadership, he oversaw the implementation of Operation Intercept, which consisted in searching vehicles entering the United States from Mexico.[2] The program was discontinued within weeks; instead, the Mexican police was expected to search for illicit drugs in cars driving into U.S. soil.[2] Meanwhile, it was Ambrose who promoted the use of dogs to look for drugs like heroin and marijuana.[2] In 1971, he successfully completed the seizure of 200 pounds of pure heroin entering the United States in three batches.[2] In January 1972, he became the director of the Office of Drug Abuse Law Enforcement (ODALE), a drug enforcement agency tasked primarily with the US federal government aiding local drug enforcement.[1] He proposed the creation of the more encompassing Drug Enforcement Administration in 1973.[1][2]

Ambrose returned to legal practise in Washington, D.C. upon retiring from the federal government.[1] He served on the inaugural committee of the Reagan-Bush campaign in 1980.[2] He served as the chairman of the board of Daytop, a drug addiction treatment organization.[2]

Personal life and death[edit]

With his first wife, Elaine Miller, he had three sons and three daughters.[2] After she died in 1975, he married Joan Fitzpatrick, but he later divorced.[2] He attended Mass at St. Theresa Catholic Church in Ashburn, Virginia.[2] He resided in Lansdowne, Virginia and later Leesburg, Virginia, where he died of a congestive heart failure at the age of 87.[1][2][3]


  1. ^ a b c d e f g h i j k l m Vitello, Paul (June 9, 2014). "Myles J. Ambrose, Nixon Drug Czar, D.E.A. Midwife, Dies at 87". The New York Times. Retrieved October 15, 2016. 
  2. ^ a b c d e f g h i j k l m n o p q Schudel, Matt (June 12, 2014). "Myles J. Ambrose, who sought to curb illegal drug trade, helped set up the DEA". The Washington Post. Retrieved October 15, 2016. 
  3. ^ a b "Myles Ambrose: US Customs commissioner who became Nixon's front man in the war on drugs and helped set up the DEA". The Independent. August 2, 2014. Retrieved October 15, 2016. 

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