Donnie R. Marshall
Drug Enforcement Administration
House Committee on the Judiciary Subcommittee on Crime
May 3, 2001
Note: This document may not reflect changes made in actual delivery.
Mr. Chairman and Members of the Subcommittee, I am happy to appear before you today as you hold hearings on reauthorizing the Department of Justice. It has been more than 20 years since the Congress passed a new authorization bill for the Department, so I would like to review with you today some of the major DEA programs and initiatives that the Congress should be aware of as it considers crafting a new authorization.
Before my testimony today, I would like to take this time to express my sincere gratitude for your ongoing support. Without your support, DEA could not continue to safely and effectively meet the growing challenges posed by increasingly sophisticated and dangerous international drug trafficking organizations operating throughout the global community. Your efforts work to send a message to these traffickers that their assault on the citizens of this nation will not be taken lightly, and that we will continue to fight to ensure that our streets remain safe for generations to come.
The mission of the Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) is to enforce the Controlled Substances laws and regulations of the United States and to bring to the criminal and civil justice system of the U.S., or any other competent jurisdiction, those organizations involved in the growing, manufacturing, and/or distribution of controlled substances destined for illicit traffic in the United States. The DEA also recommends and supports non-enforcement programs aimed at reducing the availability of illicit controlled substances on both domestic and international markets. To accomplish this mission, DEA works with international, federal, and state and local law enforcement partners to target and immobilize the organizations of major drug traffickers operating at all levels of the drug trade.
I have long said this fight can not be won through law enforcement alone. There must be a "holistic" approach to a global problem. DEA has in place a five-year strategic plan, which addresses the problems posed by illicit drug availability and abuse and provides for a comprehensive balanced approach. There is no doubt that interdiction and enforcement, coupled with education, prevention and treatment, are the essential elements for reducing the supply and demand of illicit drugs in this country.
DEA, in its capacity as the world's leading drug enforcement agency and the only single-mission federal agency dedicated to drug law enforcement, has developed the unique ability to direct resources and manpower to identify, target, investigate, and dismantle drug organizations headquartered overseas and within the United States. DEA's strategy to successfully accomplish these goals is straightforward, requiring that the agency's resources and manpower be focused on all three levels of the drug trade: the international, national/regional, and local levels. Each of these categories represents a critical aspect of the drug continuum, which affects communities across the nation.
The 9,000 dedicated men and women of the DEA are committed to improving the quality of life of the citizens of the United States. The agency directs and supports investigations against the highest levels of the international drug trade, their surrogates operating within the United States, and those traffickers whose violence and criminal activities threaten towns and cities across the country. These investigations are intelligence-driven and frequently involve the cooperative efforts of numerous other law enforcement organizations.
DEA's strategy to reduce drug trafficking at all levels of operation is flexible and reflects the constantly changing nature of the drug trade. In concert with the Department of Justice, our sister law enforcement agencies, and the Office of National Drug Control Policy (ONDCP), DEA has crafted an innovative and effective program to keep pace with developments and shifts in the drug trafficking spectrum and bring both national and international drug traffickers to justice.
DEA targets, investigates, and dismantles the most powerful drug syndicates operating around the world which are responsible for supplying drugs to American communities. The most significant drug syndicates operating today are far more powerful and violent than any of the other organized criminal groups that we have experienced in the history of American law enforcement. Unlike traditional organized crime, these new criminals operate on a global scale with transnational networks to conduct illicit enterprises simultaneously in many different countries. DEA has grown in sophistication and effectiveness to meet the challenge posed by international drug trafficking in the new century.
The Challenge Posed by International Drug Trafficking Organizations
The main challenge DEA faced during the late 1980's was posed by the major drug traffickers from Medellin, Colombia. These drug lords were investigated, arrested and prosecuted by the Colombian National Police (CNP), the DEA, and U.S. Federal prosecutors, beginning with the landmark return of Carlos Lehder to face drug charges in the United States, and ending with the death of Pablo Escobar at the hands of the CNP. During this same time frame, narcotics investigations by the DEA and other Federal, state, and local entities created a choke point in South Florida and the Caribbean, through which most of the illicit drugs arriving in our country were being transported. These enforcement strategies led to the demise of the Medellin Cartel.
As the Medellin traffickers disintegrated, the Cali traffickers quietly coalesced and assumed power equal to that of their predecessors. Due to law enforcement's response to the trafficking in the Caribbean, the Cali traffickers would later form an alliance with Mexican trafficking groups in order to stage and transport drugs across the Southwest Border. The drug traffickers from Cali were far more sophisticated than the Medellin group and eventually became deeply involved in all aspects of the cocaine trade, including production, transportation, wholesale distribution, and money laundering. Whereas the Medellin traffickers seemed to revel in the terror and violence that became their trademark - and ultimately contributed to their downfall - the Cali traffickers attempted to avoid indiscriminate violence and sought to build their image as legitimate businessmen. The Cali leaders --- the Rodriguez-Orejuela brothers, Jose Santacruz Londono, and Helmer "Pacho" Herrera-Buitrago--- amassed fortunes and ran their multi-billion dollar cocaine businesses from high-rises and ranches in Colombia. Miguel Rodriguez-Orejuela and his associates comprised what was, until then, the most powerful international organized crime group in history.
During 1995 and 1996, intense law enforcement pressure was focused on the Cali leadership by the brave men and women of the Colombian National Police. As a result, all of the top trafficking leaders from Cali were either in jail or killed. During that time frame, U.S. law enforcement agencies were effectively attacking Colombian cells operating within the United States. With the Cali leaders imprisonment in Colombia and the successful attacks by law enforcement on their U.S. cells, traffickers from Mexico took on greater prominence. A growing alliance between the Colombian traffickers and the organizations from Mexico worked to benefit both sides.
Traffickers from Mexico had long been involved in smuggling marijuana, heroin, and cocaine across the U.S.-Mexico border, using entrenched distribution routes to deliver drugs throughout the United States. The Mexico-based organizations' emergence as major methamphetamine producers and traffickers also contributed to making them a major force in international drug trafficking. The Mexican traffickers, who were previously paid in cash by the Colombian traffickers for their services, began to routinely receive up to one-half of a shipment of cocaine as their payment. This led to Mexican traffickers having access to multi-ton quantities of cocaine and allowed them to expand their markets and influence in the United States, thereby making them formidable cocaine traffickers in their own right.
The U.S./Mexico border is now the primary point of entry for cocaine shipments being smuggled into the United States. According to a recent assessment, more than half of the cocaine smuggled into the United States crosses the Southwest Border. Today, traffickers operating from Colombia continue to control wholesale level cocaine distribution throughout the heavily populated northeastern United States and along the eastern seaboard in cities such as Boston, Miami, Newark, New York City, and Philadelphia. Traffickers operating from Mexico, however, control wholesale cocaine distribution throughout the western and Midwestern United States. The distribution of multi-ton quantities of cocaine once dominated by the Colombia-based drug groups is now controlled by Mexico-based trafficking groups in cities such as Chicago, Dallas, Denver, Houston, Los Angeles, Phoenix, San Diego, San Francisco, and Seattle.
Members of international crime groups today pose a much greater threat than did their Medellin and Cali predecessors. They have at their disposal the most sophisticated communications technology as well as faxes, the Internet, and other communications equipment. Additionally, they have in their arsenal radar- equipped aircraft, weapons, and an army of workers who oversee the drug business from its raw beginnings in South American jungles to the urban areas and core city locations within the United States. All of this modern technology and these vast resources enable the leaders of international criminal groups to build organizations which, together with their surrogates operating within the United States, reach into the heartland of America. The leaders of these crime groups work through their organizations to carry out the work of transporting drugs into the United States, and franchise others to distribute drugs, thereby allowing them to remain beyond the reach of American justice. Those involved in drug trafficking often generate such tremendous profits that they are able to corrupt law enforcement, military and political officials in order to create and retain a safe haven for themselves.
Successes against the Medellin and Cali drug lords accelerated the decentralization of the international cocaine trade. In this new century, we are seeing "second generation" traffickers emerge on the scene as major players in the Colombian cocaine trade. They tend to be less willing to directly challenge government authority and are much more sophisticated in their methods of operation. They employ extensive utilization of wireless communication devices, which they change with great frequency. Other emerging characteristics are the use of computerized communications, elaborate concealment of clandestine cargo, and avoidance of becoming directly involved in retail distribution or even direct distribution to the U.S. market. The successful identification, investigation, and prosecution of these violators have become an even greater challenge to law enforcement both in the United States and Colombia.
The Response: Today's DEA
We can and should continue to identify and build cases against the leaders of the new criminal groups from Colombia. These criminals have already moved to make our task more difficult by withdrawing from positions of vulnerability and maintaining a much lower profile than their predecessors did. Just as there is a new generation of international drug traffickers operating in the world today, we have built what is in many ways a new DEA, far more sophisticated than that which was created in the 1970s.
As an organization, DEA has grown and changed tremendously over the years. From 1,446 agents and 1,422 support personnel in 1973, we have grown to 3,772 agents and 4,340 support staff at the end of 2000. From our first budget of $74 million in 1973, which increased to $256 million in 1983, DEA's budget authority has grown to $1.44 billion for the current year.
Domestically, we now operate through 21 Field Divisions, in addition to the Special Operations Division at DEA Headquarters, with offices in every State. Also within the United States, we work through the Organized Crime Drug Enforcement Task Forces (OCDETF) program. This program was initiated in 1982 to combine federal, state, and local law enforcement efforts into a comprehensive attack against organized crime and drug traffickers. DEA remains today as the leading initiator of OCDETF cases.
Our State & Local Task Force program carries out one of the DEA's priority initiatives-addressing the problem of drug-related violent crime with our state and local counterparts. These are currently 1,134 Special Agent positions dedicated to this enforcement effort working alongside 1,868 State or local police officers in 203 Task Forces. Of this number, 45 task forces are funded through the HIDTA program.
The High Intensity Drug Trafficking Areas (HIDTA) program was authorized by the Anti-Drug Abuse Act of 1988 and is administered by the Office of National Drug Control Policy. Its mission is to reduce drug trafficking throughout the country by coordinating federal, state, and local law enforcement efforts.
To ensure that criminals do not benefit financially from their illegal acts, federal law provides that profits from drug-related crimes may be legally seized and forfeited. Asset forfeiture is an effective weapon because it removes the profit from such illegal activities. Asset forfeiture can also financially disable drug-trafficking organizations. Property is seized by the DEA only when it is determined to be a tool for, or the proceeds of, illegal activities such as drug trafficking, organized crime, or money laundering. The DEA has also launched major operations specifically targeting the money-laundering capabilities of major trafficking organizations.
Most of the drugs in the illicit traffic are products of illicit processing or synthesis. Until recently, there were virtually no legal impediments to obtaining the chemicals necessary to manufacture drugs of abuse, no records required to be maintained for inspection, and no penalties for negligence or willful diversion. The Chemical Diversion and Trafficking Act of 1988 extended the concept of commodity control to those chemicals most often used for the manufacture and synthesis of drugs of abuse. With the support of the State Department, the DEA pursued the same goal for incorporation into the U.N. Convention Against Illicit Drug Traffic of 1988 (the Vienna Convention). On these legal bases, DEA has established controls over a list of critical chemicals commonly diverted for the production of the major drugs of abuse.
Finally, Mobile Enforcement Teams (METs) were conceived in 1995 in response to the overwhelming problem of drug-related violent crime in towns and cities across the nation. MET teams assist local law enforcement officers in identifying major drug traffickers and organizations that commit homicide and other violent crimes, collecting, analyzing, and sharing intelligence, arresting drug traffickers and assisting in the arrests of violent offenders and gangs, seizing assets, and assisting prosecutors. METs have completed 294 deployments so far, with 18 more currently under way. There are 262 DEA Special Agents assigned to the MET Program nationwide, comprising 24 teams.
Overseas, the DEA now maintains 78 offices in 57 countries. These offices support DEA domestic investigations through foreign liaison, training of host country officials, bilateral investigations, and intelligence gathering. Through the International Visitor Program, DEA provides foreign officials and U.S. diplomats with briefs on drug trafficking trends and national and international counter narcotics activities.
DEA is also in the forefront of the forensic science industry. DEA's eight Regional laboratories make up the largest accredited federal lab system in the United States. They provide the best available forensic drug analysis to the law enforcement community. These Labs each serve a region of the country. The Northeast Laboratory is located in New York City, the North Central Laboratory in Chicago, the Southeast Laboratory in Miami, the South Central Laboratory in Dallas, the Southwest Laboratory in National City (CA), the Western Laboratory in San Francisco, and the Mid-Atlantic Lab in Washington, DC. In addition, the Special Testing Laboratory is in the Washington, D.C. suburbs.
The DEA's Computer Forensics Program (CFP) is the application of computer technology and specialized seizure and evidence handling techniques to retrieve information from computer systems for investigative or intelligence purposes. Like many other business people, drug traffickers rely on computers and electronic pocket organizers to store information. Modern law enforcement routinely encounters and seizes home computers, laptops, computer networks, pocket organizers, and magnetic media in every conceivable size and format. These items, when seized, are forwarded to the CFP for duplication and extraction of information in such a way as to preserve the integrity of the evidence in a court-admissible manner. The Computer Forensics Program was established in October 1994, and has processed hundreds of computer items and pieces of electronic equipment each year since then. Over the last five years, the number of cases and computer seizures have increased by approximately 30 percent each year.
Electronic surveillance is critical to our success in combating the drug problem in the United States. In fact, the vast majority of court authorized electronic surveillance actions are directly tied to enforcement of the controlled substances laws and regulations of the United States. Without this essential tool, we in drug law enforcement would be unable to prevent, investigate, and solve many of the crimes associated with the growing, manufacture, or distribution of illegal drugs. In order to meet the challenges presented by these sophisticated drug trafficking organizations, it is necessary for us to attack the command and control mechanisms of these organizations. Our center for targeting command and control is the Special Operations Division (SOD), a combined DEA, U.S. Customs, FBI, IRS/Criminal Investigations, and DOJ/Criminal Division effort that supports ongoing investigations by producing detailed and comprehensive analyses of data revealing the activities and organizational structures of major drug trafficking and drug-related money laundering organizations and identifying relationships among traffickers and their related enterprises.
Today's international drug trafficking organizations are the wealthiest, most powerful, and most ruthless organized crime entities we have ever faced. We know from our investigations that they utilize their virtually unlimited wealth to purchase the most sophisticated electronic equipment available on the market to facilitate their illegal activities. The Special Operations Division has enabled us to build cases against the leaders of these powerful organizations by targeting their command and control communications with multi-jurisdictional criminal investigations based on state-of-the-art, court approved Title III electronic interceptions. We rely on the information and evidence gathered from these Title III interceptions of their communications to build a picture of the organizations, identify the individual members, and obtain evidence enabling us to make arrests and take apart whole sections of the criminal organizations at a time. The capability provided by SOD is at the core of our ability to make cases against the leadership and U.S.-based infrastructure of these powerful organizations that control the drug trade in our hemisphere.
Using the law enforcement tools available to today's DEA, as outlined above, in the past several years we have participated in a number of very significant investigations. These actions demonstrate not only the new sophistication of drug trafficking organizations at the beginning of the Twenty-First Century, but also the significance of the law enforcement response.
We continue to carry out cutting-edge, sophisticated investigations like Operation Millennium, which successfully targeted major traffickers who had previously operated without fear of capture or prosecution in the United States, believing that only their low-level operatives were at risk. These operations underscore the importance of cooperation among international drug law enforcement agencies. Such operations benefit from the closest possible cooperation between the DEA and our foreign counterparts. These investigations will continue to lead to the dismantling of major portions of the most significant drug trafficking organizations operating today. Allow me to review just a few of DEA's recent successes.
Operation Millennium, brought to a successful conclusion in 1999, effectively demonstrated that even the highest level traffickers based in foreign countries could not manage drug operations inside the United States with impunity. Operation Millennium was made possible by direct support from the governments of Colombia and Mexico. Operation Millennium effectively targeted major cocaine suppliers who had been responsible for shipping vast quantities of cocaine from Colombia through Mexico into the United States. Operation Millennium specifically targeted drug kingpin Alejandro Bernal-Madrigal, who, by his own admission, had been smuggling 30 tons, or 500 million dosage units, of cocaine into the United States every month.
Operation Mountain Express was a joint operation between DEA's Special Operations Division and the Office of Diversion Control. Mountain Express targeted traffickers of the methamphetamine precursor, pseudoephedrine. Existing regulations make it possible for California-based Mexican criminal organizations to purchase multi-ton quantities of pseudoephedrine for use in methamphetamine production. Since January 2000, SOD coordinated a number of multi-jurisdictional investigations targeting pseudoephedrine traffickers, many of whom were of Middle Eastern origin, using 11 wiretaps during the course of the investigations.
Operation Tar Pit was a DEA led multi-jurisdictional investigation targeting a Mexican heroin transportation and trafficking organization based in Tepic, Nayarit, Mexico. Primarily, this organization imported multi-kilogram quantities of black tar heroin from Mexico into the United States. During the course of the operation, more than 30 Federal Title III investigations were conducted. In June 2000, a nationwide takedown occurred against Operation Tar Pit targets, which included the principal Mexican command and control members in Mexico, U.S. based cell heads, workers for each cell, couriers, and customers.
In November 2000, the DEA, FBI, U.S. Customs Service, and Federal prosecutors culminated an 18-month investigation targeting a multi-ethnic, transnational MDMA (Ecstasy) and cocaine distribution organization, following-up on enforcement action by Dutch police in the Netherlands. The investigation, known as Operation RED TIDE, was a textbook example of the new multi-agency, multi-national law enforcement cooperation needed to thwart organized crime in the 21st Century. As a result of this cooperative effort, Customs agents seized 1,096 pounds (2.1 million tablets) of MDMA, the largest single seizure of the drug in history. The head of the organization, Tamer Adel Ibrahim fled the U.S. after the seizure, but was quickly traced to Mexico and then to Europe by the multi-agency team. Ibrahim, along with others, was arrested and the Dutch National Police seized 1.2 million tablets of MDMA.
Operations like RED TIDE exemplify the unprecedented level of international law enforcement cooperation in effect today. The investigation targeting a transnational MDMA and cocaine trafficking syndicate was a cooperative effort by the U.S. law enforcement agencies, as well as the Dutch National Police/Regional Team South, Mexico's Fiscalia Especializad Para La Atencion De Delitos (FEADS), the Israeli National Police, the German Federal Police (Bundes Kriminal Amt), the Cologne Germany Police Department, the Duissburg Germany Police Department, the Italian National Police, and the French National Police.
This investigation is extremely important because MDMA (Ecstasy) is a new threat with the potential to cause great damage, especially to America's youth. Operation Red Tide has ensured that a large volume of Ecstasy that would have made it into the hands of our youth never hit the streets, and sent a strong message to the traffickers that the DEA is leading a truly global response to the drug threat.
Last December, the DEA, together with U.S. Customs and the FBI, completed Operation Impunity II, resulting in 141 arrests and the seizure of 5,266 kilograms of cocaine, 9,325 pounds of marijuana, and approximately $9,663,265 in U.S. currency and assets. Impunity II follows earlier successes dating back to 1996 in Operation Limelight and Operation Impunity I and was the result of the outstanding coordination between federal, state, and local law enforcement officials and prosecutors across the country.
Operation Impunity II was a multi-agency law enforcement effort that targeted a wide-ranging conspiracy to smuggle thousands of pounds of cocaine and marijuana from Mexico, across the southwest border into Texas, for distribution throughout the United States. Impunity II targeted an organization that placed managers in the United States and retained the organizational command and control elements in Mexico. In addition to remnants from the Carrillo-Fuentes organization, agents learned that some members of the Mexican Gulf Cartel had also become associated with the organization, including Osiel Cardenas-Guillen, allegedly a former Gulf Cartel lieutenant. In addition to the domestic enforcement activity in this country, the United States Government presented provisional arrest warrants for extradition for eight Mexican nationals in Mexico and one Dominican national in the Dominican Republic.
In January of this year, Operation White Horse targeted a large scale heroin trafficking organization, directed by Wilson SALAZAR-Maldonado, which was responsible for sending multi-kilogram quantities of heroin from Colombia to the Northeastern United States via Aruba. The investigation was conducted jointly by the Colombian National Police, DEA Bogota, Curacao, Philadelphia and New York, and the Special Operations Division. This investigation resulted in 96 arrests, as well as the seizure of multi-kilograms quantities of heroin and cocaine, weapons, and U.S. currency.
DEA remains committed to its primary goal of targeting and arresting the most significant drug traffickers in the world today. Our successes range from participation in the historic destruction of the Cali and Medellin Cartels to the recent operations just mentioned. In the future as well, DEA will meet the ultimate test of bringing to justice the drug lords who control their vast empires of crime, which bring misery to so many nations. As we sustain a relentless assault against drug traffickers, we must insist that these drug lords be arrested, tried and convicted, and sentenced in their own countries to prison terms commensurate with their crimes, or, as appropriate, extradited to the United States to face justice in U.S. courts.
THE CURRENT DRUG TRAFFICKING THREAT TO THE UNITED STATES
The illegal drug market in the United States is one of the most profitable in the world. As such, it attracts the most ruthless, sophisticated, and aggressive drug traffickers. Drug law enforcement agencies face an enormous challenge in protecting the country's borders from drug traffickers who smuggle in cocaine, heroin, marijuana, and methamphetamine for distribution in U.S. neighborhoods as well as from domestic suppliers of these drugs.
Diverse groups traffic and distribute illegal drugs. Criminal groups operating from South America smuggle cocaine and heroin into the United States via a variety of routes, including land routes through Mexico, maritime routes along Mexico's east and west coasts, sea routes through the Caribbean, and international air corridors. Furthermore, criminal groups operating from neighboring Mexico smuggle cocaine, heroin, methamphetamine, amphetamine, and marijuana into the United States. These criminal groups have smuggled heroin and marijuana across the Southwest Border and distributed them throughout the United States since the 1970's. In addition to distributing cocaine and methamphetamine in the West and Midwest, these Mexico-based groups now are attempting to expand the distribution of those drugs into eastern U.S. markets.
Besides these criminal groups based abroad, domestic organizations cultivate, produce, manufacture, or distribute illegal drugs such as marijuana, methamphetamine, PCP, and LSD. By growing high-potency sinsemilla, domestic marijuana growers provide a product that easily competes with other suppliers. As demand for methamphetamine grows, especially in the West and Midwest, so, too, does the number of illicit laboratories that supply methamphetamine to a growing number of addicts. Finally, a small number of chemists manufacture LSD that is subsequently distributed primarily to high school and college students throughout the United States.
The primary U.S. drug threat is cocaine, particularly in its smokable form known as "crack" cocaine. The trafficking, distribution, and abuse of cocaine and crack cocaine over the past decade, along with increasing drug-related violence, seriously debilitate the quality of life in many cities and towns across the country. Most of this nations drug law enforcement assets are directed against cocaine traffickers.
Crack, the inexpensive, smokable form of cocaine, continues to be distributed and used in most major cities. While cocaine use in the United States has declined over the past decade, the rate of use in recent years has stabilized at high levels. Crack cocaine usage, which drove these rates, has reached the saturation point in large urban areas throughout the country. Street gangs, such as the Crips and the Bloods, and groups of ethnic Dominicans, Puerto Ricans, and Jamaicans dominate the retail market for crack cocaine nationwide.
Heroin is readily available in many U.S. cities as evidenced by the unprecedented level of average retail, or street-level, purity. The increased availability of high-purity heroin, which can effectively be snorted, has given rise to a new, younger user population. While avoiding the stigma and additional health hazards of needle use, this user group is ingesting larger quantities of the drug and, according to drug treatment specialists, progressing more quickly toward addiction.
South American Heroin
The availability of South American (SA) heroin, produced in Colombia, has increased dramatically in the United States since 1993. South American heroin is available in the major metropolitan areas of the Northeast and along the East Coast. Investigations also indicate the spread of South American heroin to smaller U.S. cities as well. Within the United States, ethnic Dominican criminal groups have played a significant role in retail-level heroin distribution in northeastern markets for at least the past two decades. Currently, Dominican groups dominate retail heroin markets in northeastern cities such as New York, Boston, and Philadelphia.
Mexican heroin has been a threat to the United States for decades. It is produced, smuggled, and distributed by polydrug trafficking groups, many of which have been in operation for more than 20 years. Nearly all of the heroin produced in Mexico is destined for distribution in the United States. Organized crime groups operating from Mexico produce, smuggle, and distribute the black tar heroin sold in the western United States. Once the heroin reaches the United States, traffickers rely upon well-entrenched polydrug smuggling and distribution networks to deliver their product to the market, primarily in the metropolitan areas of the Midwestern, southwestern, and western United States with sizable Mexican immigrant populations.
Southeast Asian Heroin
High-purity Southeast Asian (SEA) heroin dominated the market in the United States during the late 1980s and early 1990s. Over the past few years, however, all indicators point to a decrease in SEA heroin available domestically. Despite the recent decline in trafficking of SEA heroin, Chinese criminal groups based in Asia remain the most sophisticated heroin trafficking organizations in the world.
Southwest Asian Heroin
While a large portion of Southwest Asian (SWA) heroin is consumed in Western Europe, Pakistan, and Iran, traffickers operating from Middle Eastern locales smuggle SWA heroin to ethnic enclaves in the United States. Criminal groups composed of ethnic Lebanese, Pakistanis, Turks, and Afghans are all involved in supplying the drug to U.S.-based groups for retail distribution. West African traffickers, who primarily smuggled SEA heroin to the United States in the 1990s, now also deal in SWA heroin.
Domestic methamphetamine production, trafficking, and abuse are concentrated in the western United States. Methamphetamine is also increasingly available in portions of the South. Clandestine laboratories in California and Mexico are the primary sources of supply for methamphetamine available in the United States.
Over the last decade, the methamphetamine trafficking and abuse situation in the United States changed dramatically. In 1994, ethnic Mexican drug trafficking organizations operating "super labs" (labs capable of producing in excess of ten pounds of methamphetamine in one 24-hour production cycle) based in Mexico and California began to take control of the production and distribution of methamphetamine domestically. The entry of ethnic Mexican traffickers into the methamphetamine trade in the mid-1990s resulted in a significant increase in the supply of the drug.
The primary points of entry into the United States for methamphetamine produced in Mexico have traditionally been California ports of entry, particularly San Ysidro. Although a great amount of methamphetamine still transits this area, ports-of-entry in south Texas are experiencing significant increases in smuggling activity.
The vast majority of methamphetamine precursor chemicals diverted to clandestine laboratories in the United States are dosage-form pseudoephedrine or ephedrine drug products. They are usually purchased from U.S. manufacturers and distributors who sell case quantities of the tablets. The finished methamphetamine is then distributed throughout the U.S. through preexisting smuggling methods to the traffickers.
Marijuana is the most widely abused and readily available illicit drug in the United States with an estimated 11.5 million current users. At least one-third of the U.S. population has used marijuana sometime in their lives. The drug is considered a "gateway" to the world of illicit drug abuse.
Marijuana smuggled into the United States, whether grown in Mexico or transshipped from other Latin American source areas, accounts for most of the marijuana available in the United States. Marijuana produced in Mexico remains the most widely available. Moreover, high-potency marijuana enters the U.S. drug market from Canada. The availability of marijuana from the Far East, primarily Thailand, generally is limited to the West Coast. U.S. drug law enforcement reporting also suggests increased availability of domestically grown marijuana.
Commonly referred to as Ecstasy, XTC, Clarity or Essence, the chemical substance known as 3, 4-methylenedioxymethamphetamine (MDMA) is a synthetic psychoactive drug possessing stimulant and mild hallucinogenic properties. In the early 1990s, MDMA became increasingly popular among European youth. However, it is within the last five years that MDMA use in the United States has increased at an alarming rate.
Although the vast majority of MDMA consumed domestically is produced in Europe, a limited number of MDMA laboratories operate in the United States. Law enforcement seized seven clandestine MDMA laboratories in the United States in 2000 compared to 19 seized in 1999. It should be noted that these labs were primarily capable of limited drug production. While "recipes" for the clandestine production of MDMA can be found on the Internet, acquiring the necessary precursor chemicals in the U.S. is difficult.
MDMA is manufactured clandestinely in Western Europe, particularly in the Netherlands and Belgium. Much of the MDMA is manufactured in the southeast section of the Netherlands near Maastricht. International MDMA traffickers based in the Netherlands and Belgium consistently use other European countries, such as France, England, Germany, and Spain as transshipment points for MDMA shipments destined for the United States. Russian, Israeli and European criminal organizations, the principal traffickers of MDMA worldwide, supply the United States with the drug.
IMPACT ON THE UNITED STATES
None of the major drug traffickers headquartered overseas could operate without the assistance of national and regional drug trafficking organizations which are responsible for trafficking huge quantities of drugs into U.S. communities. These organizations are comprised of a network of operatives who transport, store, and distribute drugs and collect and repatriate drug proceeds throughout the United States and whose activities are directed by drug lords based in foreign countries. In many cases, national and regional drug trafficking organizations are comprised of numerous cells whose directors are responsible for specific tasks such as communications, financial matters, and/or logistics. These cell heads are sent to the United States for a period of time to carry out the business mandates of the top drug lords and are given specific tasks to accomplish. The national and regional drug syndicates have infiltrated many states and communities, bringing with them the crime and violence once limited to major urban areas. A survey of recent DEA investigations revealed that over 400 investigations stemming from Operations Reciprocity and Limelight involved drug traffickers from foreign countries who had set up operations in various cities across the United States.
Local violent drug trafficking organizations also operate across the United States and are responsible for eroding the quality of life in many American communities. Previously centered in major urban areas, violent drug trafficking groups are now part of the landscape in smaller cities and rural areas. Fueled in large part by methamphetamine production and trafficking, violent drug trafficking organizations are now affecting the crime rates in smaller cities such as Spokane, Washington, and Cedar Rapids, Iowa. While these local, violent groups appear to be unrelated to the large international drug trafficking organizations headquartered overseas, it is important to note that all of the cocaine and heroin that is trafficked by these groups is produced overseas and transported to the United States for eventual distribution on the local level.
The number one goal of the National Drug Strategy is to educate and enable America's youth to reject illegal drugs as well as alcohol and tobacco. DEA believes that there is a role for everyone to play in this goal, including law enforcement. Law enforcement may not take the lead in demand reduction efforts, but it has a unique perspective and wealth of experience to bring to the prevention arena. DEA special agents have seen first hand the terrible impact of drug abuse in communities, and speak with a compelling authority in explaining to citizens why this problem needs to be conquered. They also have great expertise in planning, organizing, and implementing proactive efforts to deal with drug abuse.
As an example of DEA's contribution to drug prevention, Demand Reduction Coordinators (DRC's) have been instrumental in working with media to place public service announcements from the Partnership for a Drug-Free America in support of the President's Youth Media Campaign. Demand Reduction Coordinators worked collaboratively with state and local authorities to produce an educational video (several thousand distributed to date) for adults and adolescents in the Midwest to educate them about the dangers of methamphetamine. In New York and Washington, D.C., Demand Reduction Coordinators developed an ad campaign geared to engaging youth that is being posted on busses, subway trains, and taxis. And the Demand Reduction Section has participated in satellite video conferences that were broadcast all over the United States.
Additionally the Demand Reduction Section, the Bureau of Justice Assistance, and the National Crime Prevention Council have conducted seminars for teams of community leaders from cities and towns that received MET deployments. The objective is to educate community leaders to start programs that prevent the return of the drug trafficking and violent crime that plagued their neighborhoods. CPD hosted a group of national experts in drug and crime prevention to review the proposed curriculum for this training.
The DEA web page is yet another way of reaching a large segment of the public with demand reduction information both for young people and their parents. But not everyone has access to computers, or is computer-literate. Therefore, DEA also reaches the public through publications and direct contact such as seminars, conferences and meetings with youth, parents, employers, employees, businesses, community, and civic groups, teachers, coaches, clergy, prisoners, as well as law enforcement personnel.
The driving force behind DEA's demand reduction program has always been the particular credibility that law enforcement, and especially federal law enforcement officers bring to the drug prevention arena. DEA agents possess a certain authority because of their background and job experiences, which play an important role in the overall drug demand reduction picture. This is why DEA's current demand reduction program has been so successful.
DEA's Strategic Plan
In order to meet the enormous challenges posed by internationally-based narcotics traffickers and their surrogates within the United States, DEA has developed a five-year Strategic Plan which is a key part of our commitment to establish and maintain a clear focus on the outcome of our efforts. In its unique capacity as the world's leading drug enforcement agency, DEA carries out its legal mandate for enforcing provisions of the controlled substances and chemical diversion, trafficking laws and regulations, and serves as the single point of contact for the coordination of all international drug investigations.
To ensure mission success, DEA attacks all levels of drug trafficking using both traditional and innovative drug control approaches, focusing its enforcement operations on the full continuum of drug trafficking. This overall strategic approach is based on the recognition that the major drug traffickers, operating both internationally and domestically, have insulated themselves from the drug distribution networks but remain closely linked to the proceeds of their trade. Consequently, the identification and forfeiture of illicitly derived assets is a powerful tool in successfully destroying the economic base of the drug trafficking organization, as well as a means of proving a connection between violators and a criminal drug conspiracy at the time of prosecution.
In view of this assessment, DEA's investigative efforts are directed against the major international drug trafficking organizations and their facilitators at every juncture in their operations - from the cultivation and production of drugs in foreign countries, to their passage through the transit zone, and eventual distribution on the streets of America's communities. DEA's Strategic Plan takes into account the current drug trafficking situation affecting the United States, and works to identify the characteristics and exploit the vulnerabilities of all three levels of the drug trade. By focusing directly on the agency's investigative priority targeting system, DEA responds to each of the following levels simultaneously:
International Targets: DEA will eliminate the power and control of the major drug trafficking organizations and dismantle their infrastructure by disrupting and dismantling the operations of their supporting organizations that provide raw materials and chemicals, produce and transship illicit drugs, launder money worldwide, and halt the operations of their surrogates in the United States.
National/Regional Targets: DEA will continue an aggressive and balanced enforcement program with a multi-jurisdictional approach designed to help focus Federal and interagency resources on illegal drug traffickers, their organizations and key members who have control of an area within a region of the United States, and the drugs and assets involved in their activities.
Local Initiatives: DEA will continue to assist States and localities in attacking the violence that plagues our cities, rural areas, and small towns to protect our citizens from the impact of drugs, and help restore a positive quality of life. DEA considers this an important part of its overall strategy to complement the state and local efforts with specialized programs that bring DEA's intelligence, expertise, and leadership into specific trouble spots throughout the nation.
In each of the aforementioned forums, DEA seeks to identify, target, investigate, disrupt, and dismantle the international, national, state, and local drug trafficking organizations that are having the most significant impact on America. DEA's strategic goals reflect the agency's efforts to use its unique skills and limited resources in a manner designed to achieve maximum impact. This requires maintaining a clear focus on Deals core competency - the destruction and dismantlement of drug trafficking organizations. The implementation of DEA's strategic plan is carried out with the "holistic" approach, which I mentioned at the beginning of my statement. This approach addresses the problems posed by illicit drug availability and abuse and provides for a comprehensive approach of interdiction and enforcement, coupled with education, prevention, and treatment.
FY 2002 Budget Request
For FY 2002, DEA is requesting a total of $1.6 billion, 8,314 positions, and 8,171 FTE, of which $1.5 billion, 7,654 positions and 7,515 FTE are funded by our Salaries and Expenses (S&E) Appropriation, and the remainder is funded by the Diversion Control Fee Account. For the S&E Appropriation, this represents an increase of $120.6 million and 134 positions over the FY 2001 enacted levels. The increase consists of $62.5 million needed to maintain our current level of operations and $58.2 million and 134 positions (including 13 Special Agents) for three program initiatives: a Special Operations Division (SOD) and Communications Intercept Initiative, a FIREBIRD initiative, and a Laboratory Operations Initiative. I will briefly discuss each in turn.
First, DEA is seeking $15.1 million and 62 positions (including 13 Special Agents) under the Special Operations Division and Communications Intercept Initiative to provide critical enhancements to its SOD and Investigative Technology programs. SOD is a comprehensive enforcement operation designed specifically to coordinate multi-agency, multi-jurisdictional and multi-national Title III investigations against the command and control elements of major drug trafficking organizations operating domestically and abroad. These resources will be used to enhance staffing levels in key investigative units within the SOD, to include support for drug enforcement investigations associated with the Southwest Border, Latin America, the Caribbean, Europe, and Asia. This request also augments DEA's funding base for contract linguists, and enhances DEA's investigative technology programs through new resources for equipment, technical support personnel, and training.
Second, under our FIREBIRD Initiative, DEA requests an enhancement of $30 million and 3 positions for the global FIREBIRD network. FIREBIRD is DEA's primary office automation infrastructure. It provides essential computer tools for agents and support staff, including E-mail, uniform word processing, and many other forms of office automation software. FIREBIRD also serves as the communications "backbone" for DEA's MERLIN intelligence network, and serves as the platform for numerous other mission critical databases and operational systems. DEA is requesting funding to complete deployment of the system, provide vital network security, and support technology renewal of the system. The technology renewal resources will allow DEA to replace outdated technology and adopt a reasonable replacement cycle for FIREBIRD equipment.
Third and finally, DEA requests $13.1 million and 69 positions (including 46 chemists) pursuant to our Laboratory Operations Initiative to meet mission-critical requirements within our laboratory services program. DEA's forensic chemists provide a variety of essential services, including drug and evidence analysis, on-site assistance for clandestine laboratory seizures and crime scene investigations, and vital courtroom testimony to support prosecution efforts. Likewise, the recent success of DEA's Operation Breakthrough program in providing the US Government with new scientific data on coca cultivation and cocaine production in Colombia has demonstrated the crucial role played by DEA forensic chemists and intelligence analysts in supporting the critical intelligence needs of senior US policy makers and the counterdrug intelligence community. We must be able to enhance our capability to carry out this type of strategic analysis and reporting. The requested funds and staffing are needed to address a growing backlog of exhibits and establish a laboratory equipment base that will better support program operations. Collectively, these resources will enable DEA to more effectively meet the mission requirements of its Special Agent workforce and better support the prosecution of drug offenders through timely analysis of evidence.
Mr. Chairman, that concludes my prepared remarks. I will be happy to take any questions you may have for me at this time.