DEA Congressional Testimony
March 20, 2003

Statement of
JOHN B. BROWN, III, ACTING ADMINISTRATOR
DRUG ENFORCEMENT ADMINISTRATION
Before the
UNITED STATES HOUSE OF REPRESENTATIVES
COMMITTEE ON APPROPRIATIONS
SUBCOMMITTEE FOR THE DEPARTMENTS OF COMMERCE, JUSTICE, STATE,
THE JUDICIARY AND RELATED AGENCIES

MARCH 20, 2003

Mr. Chairman and Members of the Subcommittee:

Thank you for giving me the opportunity to address this Subcommittee on the President's FY 2004 Budget Proposal for the Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA). The FY 2004 President's Budget was transmitted to the Congress prior to the enactment of our FY 2003 appropriation. Thus, this budget proposal is built on the FY 2003 President's Budget request.

First, I want to thank the Subcommittee for its unwavering support of DEA's fight against drug trafficking organizations that threaten our communities, families, and values. Most recently, the Subcommittee demonstrated its commitment to DEA's mission in the FY 2003 appropriations by providing 161 positions (including 95 Special Agents) and $43.8 million in direct funding to enhance drug enforcement activities, strengthen financial investigations, and protect DEA's personnel and sensitive information. We also appreciate the Subcommittee's direction to use $40 million in prior year recoveries to purchase law enforcement equipment, continue providing counter-terrorism support, and construct a new laboratory in the Southeast region. Your commitment is greatly appreciated by DEA's men and women who courageously carry out our drug law enforcement mission every day domestically and overseas.

The Challenge: Disrupting the Drug Market

The President's National Drug Control Strategy goal is to reduce the use of illegal drugs by 10 percent over two years, and by 25 percent over five years. The President's Strategy is based on three core principles:

  • Stopping drug use before it starts;
  • Healing America's drug users; and
  • Disrupting the market.

The Department of Justice's (DOJ) Domestic Drug Enforcement Strategy (FY 2003 - FY 2004) supports the President's goal of reducing illegal drug use in America by implementing Priority III of the President's National Drug Control Strategy - Disrupting the Drug Market. The Department's goal is to reduce the drug supply by 10 percent over the next two years. DOJ's Domestic Drug Enforcement Strategy relies upon the Organized Crime Drug Enforcement Task Force (OCDETF) to be the driving force behind the supply reduction strategy by targeting organizations on the Consolidated Priority Organization Target (CPOT) list1- the "Most Wanted" drug supply and money laundering organizations believed to be primarily responsible for the Nation's drug supply.

The drug syndicates operating today are far more sophisticated and dangerous than any of the other organized criminal groups in America's law enforcement history. These new criminals operate globally by establishing transnational networks to conduct illicit enterprises simultaneously in many countries. As profits from the sale of illegal drugs continue to increase, drug traffickers are using more drastic means to secure their fortunes and keep law enforcement at arms' length. By addressing the drug trade as a business, every action that makes this business more costly and less profitable is a step toward breaking the market.

As the world's leading drug enforcement agency and the only single-mission federal agency dedicated to drug law enforcement, DEA plays a significant role in DOJ's Domestic Drug Enforcement Strategy. DEA has developed the unique capability of identifying, targeting, investigating, disrupting and dismantling2 drug trafficking organizations responsible for supplying illegal drugs in America. We continue working with our partners at the federal, state, local, and international level to improve cooperative efforts against drug smuggling and to cut off drug money as a support for international crime.

"Disrupting the drug market" can also play a critical role in the war against terrorism. Drug income is a revenue source for many international terrorist groups3. DEA's drug enforcement investigations have highlighted the link between groups and individuals under investigation for drug trafficking as well as terrorist activity. In 2002, several high ranking members of the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (FARC) and the United Self-Defense Forces of Colombia (AUC) were indicted in the United States for drug trafficking. These cases represent the first time that drug trafficking charges were brought in the United States against members of foreign terrorist organizations. On November 6, 2002, four men were charged in Houston in a $25 million drugs-for-weapons scheme in support of the AUC. That same day, three individuals were indicted in San Diego for conspiring to trade heroin and hashish for anti-aircraft missiles, which they said they intended to sell to al-Qa'ida forces in Afghanistan. Operation Mountain Express, a nationwide investigation targeting pseudoephedrine suppliers for Mexican methamphetamine "super labs,"4 revealed that proceeds from sales of Canadian pseudoephedrine were being funneled through traditional "hawalah"5 networks to individuals in the Middle East. These examples demonstrate how drug enforcement may play a critical role in our war on terrorism by starving the financial base of criminal organizations and depriving them of drug proceeds that may be used to fund terrorist acts.

DEA's Mission and Strategic Plan

To accomplish its mission, DEA has developed a five-year strategic plan for FY 2001- FY 2006,6 consistent with DOJ's Strategic Plan, that arrays DEA's resources into four strategic focus areas to achieve the maximum impact against the full spectrum of drug trafficking activity: international, national/regional, local, and infrastructure support. DEA's strategy takes into account the current drug trafficking situation affecting the United States and identifies the drug trade's characteristics and vulnerabilities at all levels, targeting each of them simultaneously. The plan's four strategic focus areas are:

International Targets: This focus area is comprised of trafficking organizations based overseas that are the primary supply source for the distribution of illegal drugs within the United States. Through DEA's International Operations program, the Special Operations Division (SOD), and numerous field divisions throughout the country, DEA targets these organizations and their members by collecting intelligence and building prosecutable cases to bring these criminals to justice.

National/Regional Targets: These organizations operate domestically throughout the United States and are responsible for distributing drugs from international and domestic sources to U.S. communities. In many cases, these groups report directly to major drug traffickers overseas. They also operate on a national or regional basis, supplying several interstate markets. Most DEA cases fall into this category. Investigations against these organizations are generated and supported by every DEA office in the United States.

Local Initiatives: Criminal organizations included in this category generally deal in smaller quantities of drugs and are responsible for providing drugs to users within the United States. DEA works with state and local law enforcement counterparts to identify and immobilize these organizations, with a special emphasis on arresting the most violent members.

Management and Infrastructure: Developing a secure and effective infrastructure and ensuring management oversight provide DEA personnel with the tools necessary to get the job done. DEA must also have the systems and structures to monitor its programs carefully, comply with reporting and information sharing requirements, and manage its finite resources efficiently.

DEA's Strategic Plan provides the long-range goals and objectives by which we will measure our progress and be held accountable. We accomplish our mission by working to disrupt and dismantle Priority Drug Trafficking Organizations - drug trafficking organizations having a significant impact in America today. As of February 2003, 81 percent of the organizations on the CPOT list are also designated as DEA Priority Targets.7

DEA has compiled a comprehensive list of "Priority Targets" submitted by its 21 field divisions and developed a system - the Priority Target Activity and Resource Reporting System (PTARRS) - to link resources expended to results achieved. PTARRS is being expanded to include efforts related to the Department's CPOT list. Ultimately, DEA's goal is to achieve full cost accounting of its resources for each of the plan's strategic focus areas. In doing so, DEA will more accurately evaluate the core effectiveness of enforcement efforts and be more accountable to the President, the Congress, and the American public.

DEA's Program Assessment Rating Tool (PART) Score

DEA was among the twenty percent of federal agencies reviewed in OMB's first-year effort to assess agency progress in integrating performance and budget, which is one of five areas in the President's Management Agenda. Since the review, DEA has made progress in the PART's four sections.8 DEA in the process of revising its long-term goals and refining its performance measures to establish links between a Priority Target's disruption or dismantlement and its impact on drug availability.9

Changes in DEA's FY 2004 Budget

In FY 2004, DEA has combined its current decision units, under the Salaries and Expenses Account, to reduce their number from ten (10) to three (3): Domestic Enforcement, International Enforcement, and State and Local Assistance. Support functions for these programs are included in the proposed decision units.

Domestic Enforcement: Through effective enforcement efforts and associated support functions, DEA disrupts and dismantles the leadership, command, control, and infrastructure of Priority Drug Trafficking Organizations threatening the United States. This decision unit contains most of DEA's resources, including domestic enforcement groups, state and local task forces, other funded federal and local task forces, intelligence and diversion chemical control groups.

International Enforcement: This decision unit encompasses DEA's work with its foreign counterparts to attack the vulnerabilities in the leadership, production, transportation, communications, finance, and distribution sectors of major international drug trafficking organizations.

State and Local Assistance: Through this decision unit, DEA supports activities to advise, assist, and train state and local law enforcement and local community groups to ensure a consistent national approach to drug law enforcement. DEA's training enhances their enforcement capabilities and provides access to the latest intelligence and investigative methods.

The proposed decision unit consolidation will allow DEA to better align its resources with strategic plan goals and financial reporting categories while retaining detailed reporting capability. In addition, in FY 2004, DEA has merged the Construction Account into its Salaries and Expenses Account.

The President's FY 2004 Budget Proposal for DEA

The President's FY 2004 Budget Proposal for DEA of $1.7 billion and 8,815 positions responds to the challenge we face - reducing the availability of illegal drugs in America by disrupting the drug market. Of this amount, $1.6 billion and 8,022 positions are requested under the Salaries and Expenses (S&E) Appropriation, and $119 million and 793 positions under the Diversion Control Fee Account (DCFA). This request represents a one (1) percent increase, or $18 million and 318 positions over the FY 2003 enacted appropriation.

DEA's FY 2004 Budget Request includes three programmatic enhancements and five program offsets that support DEA's four strategic focus areas and DOJ's Strategic Objective 2.2: "Reduce the threat, trafficking, and related violence of illegal drugs by identifying, disrupting, and dismantling drug trafficking organizations." The program changes requested in the FY 2004 President's Budget, along with DEA's base resources, provide the funding required in FY 2004 to address DEA's strategic goal of disrupting and dismantling the most significant drug trafficking organizations operating in America today.

  • Targeting Priority Drug Trafficking Organizations: DEA requests $38.9 million and 329 positions (including 123 Special Agents and 20 Diversion Investigators) to disrupt and dismantle Priority Drug Trafficking Organizations that manufacture, transport, import, and distribute illegal drugs into the United States as well as those involved in the diversion of precursor chemicals. This initiative includes a request for 85 administrative support positions to free up the equivalent of 80 Special Agents' work hours for enforcement activities; $4 million to support 100 State and Local Task Force Officers to serve as force multipliers; and $1.1 million for the Chemical Transaction Analysis System (CTRANS) to unify DEA's legacy chemical transactions systems into a single database accessible to DEA investigative personnel worldwide. These resources are necessary to fully support DEA's plan for addressing the Nation's illegal drug threats in the post-September 11, 2001 environment, particularly in light of the Federal Bureau of Investigation's redirection of 567 agents from drug enforcement to counter-terrorism activities.
  • Continuing International Training: DEA requests $1.5 million and 20 positions (including 16 Special Agents) to provide resources for DEA's International Training Program and to address an anticipated shortfall of reimbursable resources the Department of State currently provides for this program. DEA's international counter-narcotics training for its law enforcement counterparts overseas has contributed significantly to the success of host-nation counter-drug operations. With three mobile training teams, DEA annually trains an estimated 1,765 foreign law enforcement personnel from 57 countries worldwide. The request will help support the salary costs for the program's current staffing level (20 positions) to continue DEA's International Training Program in FY 2004.
  • Improving DEA's Financial and Asset Management Programs: DEA requests $2.5 million and 20 positions for financial audit improvements. The positions will be located in the field and at headquarters to strengthen DEA's financial management infrastructure. The request also includes $1.4 million in recurring contract funding to hire dedicated analyst positions for asset management, tracking, and data entry in the field and headquarters. In the FY 2002 Financial Statement Audit Report, DEA received an unqualified opinion with no material weaknesses after diverting important resources to this effort. This enhancement will allow DEA to make systemic improvements necessary to prevent recurrence of similar problems, and to ensure continued success in future financial audits.
  • Southeast Laboratory - Miami: DEA requests the authority to use $7.8 million in DEA prior year unobligated balances to design and construct a replacement laboratory in the Southeast region (Miami, Florida). This facility has been due for replacement since 1998 and has been determined to be unsafe for the health of DEA personnel. A modern state-of-the-art facility will provide DEA's highly skilled and specialized chemists with a healthy, safe work environment, and promote more efficient use of DEA's analytical resources. Although requested as part of the FY 2004 President's Budget, the Department of Justice Appropriations Act, 2003, funded this item.

For the Diversion Control Fee Account, the FY 2004 President's Budget continues the increased level of funding requested in FY 2003 to strengthen our enforcement capabilities to prevent, detect, and investigate the diversion of controlled substances, including OxyContin®.

The Department continues to evaluate its programs and operations with the goal of achieving both component-specific and departmental economies, increased efficiencies, and cost savings. Aided by ongoing reviews of business practices, we are beginning a comprehensive, multi-year process to implement a wide range of streamlining and efficiency measures that will result in savings. These program offsets will enable DEA to redirect resources to higher priorities, including targeting Priority Drug Trafficking Organizations. The following proposals have been incorporated into our FY 2004 budget proposal for DEA:

  • RET/MET Program - Offset: DEA proposes a reduction of $18.3 million and 40 Special Agent positions by eliminating the Regional Enforcement Teams (RET) and Mobile Enforcement Teams (MET) Programs. The remaining 367 RET and MET positions (including 293 Special Agents) will be redirected towards disrupting and dismantling Priority Drug Trafficking Organizations, consistent with DEA's strategic goal of targeting organizations having the most significant impact in America today.
  • Demand Reduction Program - Offset: DEA proposes a reduction of $5 million and 11 Special Agent positions to eliminate DEA's Integrated Drug Enforcement Assistance (IDEA) initiative from DEA's Demand Reduction Program. DEA proposes to redirect the $5 million towards supporting higher priority drug enforcement initiatives in FY 2004. DEA's Demand Reduction Program will continue complementing DEA's drug law enforcement mission through its Demand Reduction Coordinators located in each of DEA's 21 field divisions nationwide.
  • Rent, Alterations, and Travel Base - Offset: DEA proposes a $10 million reduction in its base resources for rent, alterations, and travel. DEA plans to implement this reduction by consolidating DEA's field presence, shifting alterations costs for security maintenance to domestic field offices, and reducing operational travel.
  • Permanent Change of Station (PCS) Base - Offset: DEA is proposing a $5 million reduction in its base resources for relocating personnel. This reduction will entail altering relocation processes to achieve permanent savings and limiting funding to the most critical relocations.
  • DOJ-Wide Streamlining - Offset: DEA proposes a $14.4 million base program offset from anticipated savings that may result from management and program efficiencies. This reduction will support DOJ's overall efforts on streamlining administrative functions, which identifies areas where crosscutting savings may exist. Additional analysis and review are underway to determine the strategies for implementing savings in the targeted administrative areas (e.g., facilities management, Information Technology (IT), human resources management, fleet management, and procurement).

Organized Crime Drug Enforcement Task Force

The FY 2004 President's Budget includes $23 million and 150 positions (including 110 Special Agents) for DEA under the OCDETF Program. With its multi-agency partnerships and its focus on coordinated, multi-regional investigations, OCDETF is the driving force behind DOJ's Drug Enforcement Strategy. As OCDETF's largest contributing member, DEA will continue to work with other program participants in maximizing OCDETF's support of investigations linked to the CPOT list and money laundering investigations.

DEA's Response to America's Threats

The President's National Drug Control Strategy has made a difference. The most recent Monitoring the Future survey10 shows the first significant downturn in youth drug use in nearly a decade, with reductions in drug use noted among 8th, 10th, and 12th graders, and levels of use for some drugs that are lower than they have been in almost three decades.

  • The percentages of 8th and 10th graders using any illegal drug were at their lowest levels since 1993 and 1995, respectively.
  • Among 10th graders, marijuana use in the past year and past month decreased, as did daily use in the past month. Past-year marijuana use among 8th graders has dropped to 14.6 percent - its lowest level since 1994.
  • With a single exception, the use of illegal drugs other than marijuana fell for all three grades surveyed and for all three prevalence periods (lifetime, annual, and past month).
  • MDMA "Ecstasy" use was down in all three grades. MDMA use in the past year and past month decreased significantly among 10th graders from 2001 to 2002. Past-year and lifetime rates were below those for 2000 in all three grades.
  • Lifetime and past-year LSD use decreased significantly among 8th, 10th, and 12th graders, and past-month use declined among 10th and 12th graders. Past-year and past-month LSD use by 12th graders reached its lowest point in the 28-year history of the survey.

Despite these successes, DEA's most recent Domestic Threat Assessment11 highlights the many challenges we are still facing. I would like to take this opportunity to discuss these domestic threats and how DEA is continuing to make a difference.

Marijuana

Marijuana continues to be a significant threat given its popularity and availability. The 2001 NHSDA found a statistically significant increase between 2000 and 2001 in the use of marijuana (from 4.8 to 5.4 percent). In 2001, it was used by 76 percent of current illegal drug users. The increased availability of high quality 'sin semilla' and a new generation of marijuana users represent a threat that cannot be ignored.

Marijuana trafficking is prevalent across the nation, with both domestic and foreign sources of supply. Mexican drug trafficking organizations dominate the transportation and wholesale distribution of the majority of foreign-based marijuana available in the United States, which enters the United States through the Southwest Border. Independent traffickers appear to control wholesale distribution of domestic marijuana, while no particular criminal group dominates the retail distribution. Since the demand for marijuana far exceeds that for any other illegal drug and the profit potential is so high, some cocaine and heroin drug trafficking organizations reportedly traffic marijuana to help finance their drug operations.

DEA aggressively strives to halt the spread of marijuana cultivation in the United States through the Domestic Cannabis Eradication and Suppression Program (DCE/SP) - the only nationwide program that exclusively targets marijuana. DEA continues to improve the effectiveness of its marijuana eradication efforts by spending $12.2 million in CY 2002 to support the 99 state and local agencies that are now active DCE/SP participants12. In addition, DEA continues monitoring state legislation to combat marijuana legalization. Where appropriate, DEA provides information to state legislators about the facts concerning marijuana and how proposed legislation impacts on drug law enforcement.

As of March 2003, DEA has disrupted 30 and has dismantled 15 marijuana Priority Targets. An additional 73 are under investigation. On August 6, 2002, DEA announced the arrest and indictment of 17 persons involved in a large-scale marijuana trafficking and distribution organization based in El Paso, Texas. In Chicago, Illinois, 12 other suspects were charged in connection with this case.

OxyContin®

OxyContin® is the number one prescribed Schedule II narcotic in the United States accounting for 9.6 million prescriptions in CY 2002. According to the 2001 National Household Survey on Drug Abuse (NHSDA), the number of persons reporting use of OxyContin® for non-medical purposes at least once in their lifetime increased fourfold from 1999 to 2001. The Drug Abuse Warning Network (DAWN) reported that mentions for oxycodone, the active ingredient in OxyContin®, accounted for 18,409 mentions in 2001 - a 70 percent increase from 2000. OxyContin® was linked to 464 deaths nationally between January 2000 and February 2002.

To address OxyContin® diversion and abuse, DEA established a comprehensive National Action Plan, which focuses on targeting key diversion points and conducting in-depth investigations of OxyContin's® manufacturer and distributors to determine compliance with regulatory requirements designed to prevent diversion. OxyContin® cases constitute about 25 percent of the Diversion Control Program's (DCP) Schedule II Narcotics cases. Between FY 1999 and FY 2002, DEA conducted more than 350 OxyContin® investigations. As of February 2003, these investigations have resulted in 380 arrests with additional arrests expected. Fifteen (15) active cases are linked to Priority Targets, including cases in Virginia and Kentucky. Examples of successful OxyContin® investigations include:

  • On January 7, 2003, the owner and six physicians of the Carolina Neurology and Pain Management Center, in Myrtle Beach, South Carolina were named in a fifty-nine count federal indictment. Each defendant has been charged with conspiracy to unlawfully distribute and dispense Oxycodone, as well as a variety of other controlled substances. Due to the large amounts of controlled substances distributed for non-legitimate medical reasons at the clinic, several patients have died. Additionally, the defendants were charged with money laundering in excess of $5 million during the period between June 1997 and July 2001.
  • On June 28, 2002, Mitchell Wall, head of a criminal organization operating in Maine and New Hampshire, was sentenced in United States District Court, District of Maine, to life in prison for the distribution of a controlled substance (OxyContin® and Cocaine), which resulted in a death. This is the first life sentence handed down in the U.S. District Court of Maine for a distribution resulting in a death.
  • On June 20, 2002, Richard Paolino, Doctor of Osteopathy, was sentenced to 30 to 120 years and fined $275,000 after being found guilty in Pennsylvania State Court of numerous charges related to the illegal prescribing of OxyContin®. This investigation was initiated after complaints from area pharmacists concerning Dr. Paolino's over-prescribing and illegal distribution of OxyContin®. Two co-conspirators, Wesley Collier, M.D. and David Harmon, M.D., who signed blank prescription pads for Dr. Paolino, were also found guilty.

MDMA "Ecstasy"

MDMA ("Ecstasy") poses an enormous threat to America's teens and young adults. According to the 2001 NHSDA, the number of persons reporting they had tried MDMA increased from 6.5 million in 2000 to 8.1 million in 2001. Scientific studies have shown that MDMA use causes significant health hazards, including long-term neurological damage and addiction. Numerous instances of sexual assaults, overdoses, and deaths are attributed to the use of MDMA and other predatory drugs.

MDMA trafficking has escalated as various foreign-based drug trafficking organizations, including criminal organizations from Israel, Albania, Poland, Bulgaria, China, and Vietnam, have become involved in the MDMA trade. The Southwest, Florida/Caribbean and New York regions also have observed traditional Mexican, Dominican, and Colombian drug trafficking organizations enter the MDMA trade. DEA continues to use a multi-faceted approach employing both prevention and enforcement strategies in targeting MDMA trafficking and abuse. As of March 10, 2003, DEA has dismantled 42 MDMA-related Priority Drug Trafficking Organizations and 58 have been disrupted. To date, there are 133 open MDMA Priority Target cases.

Since the Netherlands is the primary source for MDMA destined for the United States, DEA has worked closely with Dutch and other European law enforcement authorities in an effort to dismantle these MDMA trafficking organizations.

  • On January 20, 2003, DEA, along with USCS and the Spanish National Police, ended an investigation by arresting 30 couriers and seizing 400,000 MDMA tablets. DEA's SOD coordinated the investigation, which involved Dominican nationals that resided in Spain and distributed MDMA tablets under the brand name "Harry Potter" in New York, Spain, and the Dominican Republic.
  • In November of 2002, DEA launched Operation X-OUT, a multi-faceted 12-month initiative in response to the increasing threat of MDMA and other club drugs. Operation X-OUT focuses on educating the public on the dangers of MDMA and increasing DEA's enforcement efforts on MDMA Priority Targets.
  • On October 12, 2002, DEA's New York Division announced the seizure of approximately 1.4 million MDMA tablets with an estimated value of $42 million. This joint investigation with the Belgium Federal Police and the U.S. Customs Service is the largest seizure to date of MDMA in Europe and the third largest seizure in the United States. The investigation is still ongoing.

Cocaine

Cocaine, in powder and crack form, is still a major illegal drug of concern throughout the United States, based upon abuse indicators, violence associated with the trade, and trafficking volume. The 2001 NHSDA found a statistically significant increase between CY 2000 and CY 2001 in the use of cocaine (0.5 to 0.7 percent). According to the DAWN Report, cocaine is the most frequently reported illegal drug in Emergency Department (ED) visits, accounting for 193,034 mentions in CY 2001. An estimated 3.3 million Americans are hard-core cocaine users, while another 2.2 million are occasional users. Furthermore, a study published in the Journal of Clinical Endocrinology and Metabolism in March 2003 suggests that cocaine has a direct effect on the body's infection-fighting chemistry.

Interagency assessments report that more than 60 percent of the cocaine entering the United States moves across the Southwest Border. Drug trafficking organizations also use aircraft, high-speed boats, Dominican freighters, and containerized cargo to move cocaine shipments into the United States via the Caribbean. Countering this threat consumes enormous domestic counter-drug resources since international Priority Drug Trafficking Organizations have demonstrated an ability to modify trafficking operations, shift smuggling routes, and improve concealment techniques in response to multinational interdiction efforts. Traditionally, Colombian drug trafficking organizations controlled most wholesale distribution in the New England, New York/New Jersey, and Mid-Atlantic regions, while Mexican drug trafficking organizations controlled wholesale distribution in the Pacific, Southwest, West Central, and Great Lakes region. There are indications that Mexican drug trafficking organizations are expanding distribution operations in the New York/New Jersey and Mid-Atlantic regions.

As of March 10, 2003, DEA has dismantled 61 cocaine Priority Drug Trafficking Organizations, and 137 have been disrupted. To date, there are 421 open cocaine-related Priority Target cases. Recent examples include:

  • On February 26, 2003, a Westport, Massachusetts man was sentenced in federal court to a life term of imprisonment for his leadership role in a drug conspiracy. DEA's investigation of the case, in cooperation with other federal, state, and local law enforcement officers, resulted in the seizure of a 260 kilogram shipment of cocaine - the largest seizure in Massachusetts history.
  • On June 27, 2002, DEA announced the unsealing of two separate indictments in Manhattan federal court, both arising from a DEA investigation into the Alcides Ramon Magana organization, one of Mexico's most powerful and violent narcotics organizations. One of the indictments charged Consuelo Marquez, a former Lehman Brothers account representative in New York, with participating in the laundering of millions of dollars for the organization. The Alcides Ramon Magana organization conspired to import hundreds of tons of cocaine into the United States and distributed it in metropolitan areas nationwide. Cocaine was shipped by speedboat from Colombia to various locations in Belize and Quintana Roo, Mexico, and subsequently transported to the United States.
  • In 2002, several high ranking members of the FARC and the AUC were indicted in the United States for drug trafficking. The targets of these separate indictments include Jorge Briceno-Suarez, a member of the FARC Secretariat, Tomas Molina-Caracas, commander of the FARC 16th Front, Carlos Castano-Gil, ranking leader of the AUC, and Salvatore Mancuso, second in command of the AUC. These individuals, as well as other ranking members of the FARC and AUC and their associates, are on the Department's CPOT list.

Heroin

The increased availability of low cost, high purity South American heroin, which can be snorted or smoked, has become an alarming threat to our youth. Heroin remains readily available in major metropolitan areas and is the second most frequently mentioned illegal drug reported to the DAWN by participating EDs after cocaine, accounting for 93,064 mentions in CY 2001. There are two distinct heroin markets in the United States. East of the Mississippi River, highly pure, white powder heroin from South America is the predominant type available, entering the United States primarily through the Caribbean. West of the Mississippi River, black tar heroin from Mexico is the predominant type, entering the United States through the Southwest Border.

Opium cultivation and heroin production are pervasive in four geographic areas of the world: Colombia, Mexico, Southwest Asia, and Southeast Asia. Although heroin strategies exist for all four source zones, DEA's resources are concentrated on the drug threats directly impacting the U.S. illegal drug market, primarily Mexico and Colombia. In FY 2002, DEA reallocated 13 positions (including 9 Special Agents) to aggressively target Colombian heroin through the creation of the Bogota Heroin Task Force. In addition, DEA reprogrammed $15.1 million and reallocated 17 positions to implement its Afghanistan Initiative, better known as Operation Containment, to target transnational heroin trafficking organizations in Central Asia. Through Operation Containment, DEA has established a permanent presence in Kabul, Afghanistan, and has strengthened its presence in several Asian and European cities where Afghan morphine is transported, processed, and distributed. DEA has also been working with the government of Uzbekistan to form a Sensitive Investigative Unit (SIU)13 in the country. The Uzbekistan SIU members are being trained at DEA's Justice Training Center in March 2003.

As of March 10, 2003, DEA has dismantled 29 heroin Priority Drug Trafficking Organizations, and 37 have been disrupted. To date, there are 88 open heroin-related Priority Target cases. Recent success stories include:

  • On March 6, 2003, the alleged kingpins of a South American heroin smuggling operation were arraigned in federal court. It was the first time in recent history that DEA had gotten a successful extradition of a major target into Detroit.
  • On February 14, 2003, DEA announced the results of Operation Déjà vu, a seven-month investigation targeting violent heroin and cocaine trafficking groups operating primarily in the Northeastern United States and Puerto Rico, as well as Colombia. This OCDETF investigation, led by DEA, resulted in 67 arrests in 7 cities and the seizure of 21 kilograms of heroin, 8 pounds of marijuana, 17.4 kilograms of cocaine, 1.9 kilograms of crack cocaine and $438,420.
  • On June 12, 2002, DEA announced the dismantlement of Garcia-Giraldo international heroin and cocaine ring. Twenty-five defendants were arrested following a nine-month investigation involving the coordinated efforts of DEA foreign offices in Bogota, Caracas, Quito, Guatemala, as well as DEA domestic offices in New York, Boston, Philadelphia, and SOD. The arrests and seizures were international as well as in the United States, including New York and Philadelphia.

Methamphetamine

Methamphetamine is the synthetic drug most widely abused and most frequently produced clandestinely in the United States. Synthetic drugs are particularly attractive to traffickers since they are not as vulnerable to interdiction as crop-based products and their production site can be relocated easily. According to the 2001 NHSDA, 4.3 percent of the population (9.3 million people) have tried methamphetamine at least once in their lifetime. The DAWN reported 14,923 emergency room mentions for methamphetamine in CY 2001. These mentions were concentrated in the West Coast, particularly San Francisco, San Diego, Phoenix, Seattle, and Los Angeles. California is also experiencing a new form of methamphetamine use - Yaba - tablets containing a mixture of meth and caffeine.

Methamphetamine dominates the illegal drug market in the West Coast and much of the Rocky Mountains. Meth produced in Mexico enters the United States primarily through the Southwest Border. In addition, the West Coast has the highest number of methamphetamine "super labs," which are supplied with Canadian pseudoephedrine transiting via the Northern Border. The growing number of small toxic laboratories (STLs) in the Midwest suggests an increased demand for the drug in this part of the country as well. Methamphetamine production can be very dangerous because the chemicals used are volatile and the by-products are very toxic.

In response to the methamphetamine threat, DEA has established a comprehensive Methamphetamine National Strategy, which focuses on enforcement initiatives, including chemical diversion, and community engagement and prevention. In 2002, DEA also raised public awareness on the dangers of methamphetamine through "Meth in America: Not in Our Town," a nationwide tour through 32 states. As of March 10, 2003, DEA has dismantled 42 methamphetamine-related Priority Drug Trafficking Organizations and 58 have been disrupted. To date, there are 133 open methamphetamine Priority Target cases. Many of the organizations disrupted and dismantled operated out of Arizona, California, Colorado, Florida, Louisiana, Texas, and the Washington, D.C. area.

  • On March 10, 2003, 24 people and three businesses were indicted on 59 counts relating to a methamphetamine distribution ring in Utah. The dismantled organization was responsible for distributing as much as 300 pounds of methamphetamine, imported from Mexico and southern California, through Salt Lake City annually.
  • On March 5, 2003, DEA interrupted a "superlab" operation in a residential neighborhood in Waterford, California - a bust that resulted in four arrests and the seizure of more than 65 pounds of meth in various production stages. In 2002, DEA alone seized 571 clandestine methamphetamine laboratories. Federal, state and local law enforcement officers seized 7,788 clandestine laboratories nationwide.
  • On August 8, 2002, DEA, in cooperation with the Riverside County Sheriff's Department and the Riverside Police Department in California, announced the arrests of more than 57 individuals. Operation Living Large was a two-year investigation on a Priority Target involved in the manufacture and distribution of methamphetamine along with the distribution of ecstasy and money laundering.

Chemical Diversion

Most illegal drugs are products of illicit processing or synthesis. Cocaine, for example, can be extracted and converted to its preferred form only by using a tremendous quantity of industrial chemicals. Heroin must be synthesized by using an acetylating agent after the morphine has been extracted from raw, harvested opium. Methamphetamine, PCP, LSD, and MDMA "Ecstasy" are purely synthetic drugs manufactured from chemical precursors.

Investigating the diversion of precursor chemicals has become an important part of DEA's fight against illegal drugs. DEA's chemical investigations have increased by more than 400 percent between FY 1999 and FY 2002. The Northern Border's vulnerability is being exploited by Middle Eastern criminal organizations smuggling Canadian pseudoephedrine. On January 10, 2002, Operation Mountain Express III, an OCDETF investigation led by DEA, ended with the arrests of more than 100 individuals in 12 cities. This nationwide investigation targeted the illegal trafficking of Canadian pseudoephedrine, an essential precursor chemical used to manufacture methamphetamine.

Summary

DEA is committed to meeting the President's goal of reducing illegal drug use by 25 percent in 5 years. Toward this end, DEA will continue to focus the bulk of its resources on Priority Drug Trafficking Organizations - those having the most significant impact on America's domestic threats. The President's FY 2004 Budget Proposal requests an increase of 233 new DEA Special Agents (123 under DEA's direct appropriation and 110 through OCDETF) plus a redirection of 362 Special Agents from other programs for a grand total of 595 Special Agents for Priority Targeting. The President's Budget also includes 85 administrative support positions to free up an additional 80 Special Agents for enforcement activities, 20 Intelligence Analysts and 12 Chemists for Priority Targeting, 20 Diversion Investigators for chemical diversion investigations, $4 million to support 100 State and Local Task Force Officers to serve as force multipliers in DEA's efforts, 20 positions (including 16 Special Agents) to continue DEA's International Program, and 20 positions to improve DEA's Financial and Asset Management Programs. Under the DCFA, the President's Budget continues the increased level of funding requested in FY 2003 to strengthen our efforts in investigating the diversion of controlled substances, including OxyContin®. By focusing on Priority Targets in each of DEA's 21 domestic field divisions and disrupting the transportation, distribution, and financial networks that link them to the CPOTs, we will disrupt the market, reduce availability, and produce longer lasting results.

Mr. Chairman, Ranking Member Serrano, and members of the Subcommittee, this concludes my prepared remarks. I will be glad to address any questions you may have at this time.

Thank you.


1As of January 2003, the CPOT list contains 53 international "command and control" targets.

2A "disruption" occurs when the normal effective operation of an identified organization is significantly impacted so that it is unable to conduct criminal operations for a significant period of time. A "dismantlement" occurs when an identified organization is incapacitated and no longer capable of operating as a coordinated criminal enterprise.

3The Office of National Drug Control Policy (ONDCP) has identified the following 12 organizations listed in the Department of State's October 2002 Report on Foreign Terrorist Organizations as having links to drug trafficking: Abu Sayyaf Group, Basque Fatherland and Liberty, Hizballah, Islamic Movement of Uzbekistan, Kurdistan Workers' Party, Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam, National Liberation Army, Palestinian Islamic Jihad, al-Qa'ida, Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (FARC), Shining Path, and the United Self-Defense Forces of Colombia (AUC).

4"Super labs" are methamphetamine laboratories with a production capacity of 10 pounds or greater within a 24-hour period.

5"Hawalah" is an Arabic word, which means "word of mouth." It is an underground banking system by which financial operators in different locations honor each other's financial obligations by making payments wherever needed. It is a way of moving cash without any trace.

6DEA is updating its strategic plan for FY 2003 - FY 2007 to better address the President's National Drug Control Strategy goals and to be consistent with DEA's proposed new decision unit budget structure. The proposed Strategic Plan is currently under review.

7As of February 2003, DEA had over 100 Priority Target investigations directed at, or directly linked to, the 53 organizations on the CPOT list. An additional 125 DEA investigations had a secondary link to CPOT targets.

8The PART's four sections include: Program Purpose and Design, Strategic Planning, Program Management, and Program Results.

9In its January 2003 report entitled Major Management Challenges and Program Risks for the Department of Justice, the General Accounting Office (GAO) acknowledged DEA's significant progress and commitment to developing measurable performance targets for reducing illegal drugs.

10The survey, conducted by the University of Michigan's Institute for Social Research and funded by the National Institute on Drug Abuse, has tracked 12th graders' illegal drug use and attitudes towards drugs since 1975. In 1991, 8th and 10th graders were added to the study.

11DEA's Domestic Threat Assessment provides a snapshot, as of June 2002, of the U.S. environment in a highly dynamic drug trafficking environment. It is based on intelligence relating to the demand for illegal drugs and their suppliers and distributors. The threat assessment encompasses data findings from DEA field division assessments, open-source reports, drug abuse indicators, reports from DEA's El Paso Intelligence Center (EPIC) and the Joint Interagency Task Force West (JIATF-W), DEA's Field Management Plans and information on Priority Targets. The secondary evaluation involved a survey of DEA field management to more precisely identify the most significant drug problems in the field divisions and factors affecting those priorities (e.g., level of violence associated with the trade, abuse indicators, and volume of drug movement).

12The $12.2 million in DCE/SP assistance includes non-personnel costs under DEA's direct appropriation (SAE) and Asset Forfeiture Fund (AFF).

13SIUs are groups of foreign law enforcement officials who are vetted, trained, equipped and guided by the DEA. They are instrumental in DEA's international investigations.

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