DEA Congressional Testimony
April 5, 2006

ATTACHMENT
ACCOMPANYING THE STATEMENT OF
THE HONORABLE KAREN P. TANDY, ADMINISTRATOR
DRUG ENFORCEMENT ADMINISTRATION
“ DRUG THREATS AND ENFORCEMENT OPERATIONS”
April 2006



I. Drug Threats to the United States

A. Methamphetamine

Methamphetamine is the most widely abused and most frequently clandestinely produced synthetic drug 1 in the United States. Methamphetamine appeals to people across all genders, ages, and socio-economic levels. Methamphetamine has a high rate of addiction, a low rate of sustained recovery, and is cheap to manufacture. It has become a problem of epidemic proportions in the United States, devastating users, their families, and local communities. According to the 2004 National Survey on Drug Use and Health (NSDUH), 583,000 persons 12 and older used methamphetamine during the past 30 days (a 4 percent decrease from 2003) and 1.4 million have used it in the past year, a 10 percent increase from 2003. The estimated number of past year methamphetamine users is three times the number of estimated past year heroin users.

By effectively targeting and arresting the main suppliers of bulk precursor chemicals, DEA has successfully reduced the number of “super labs” 2 in the United States. As a consequence, operators of “super labs” have shifted their production to Mexico. Current drug and lab seizure data suggest that 80 percent of the methamphetamine consumed in the United States comes from larger labs, for the most part in Mexico, and that approximately 20 percent of the methamphetamine consumed comes from the small, toxic laboratories (STLs) in the United States. STLs generally are unaffiliated with major drug trafficking organizations, but nevertheless present enormous environmental challenges.

In recent years, the proliferation of STLs has been fueled by the ready availability of pseudoephedrine, the key ingredient in methamphetamine and by the fact that the manufacturing process is simple, inexpensive, and recipes can be found easily on the Internet. In 1990, there were two states with 20 or more clandestine laboratory seizures. In 1996, this number increased to 10 states. In 2004, there were over 40 states where 20 or more seizures of clandestine laboratories occurred. From 2002 through 2005, more than 55,000 STLs were discovered and seized.

1 The term ‘synthetic drugs’ refers to controlled substances such as methamphetamine, MDMA “ecstasy” (and its analogues), GHB (and its analogues), ketamine, and other substances, which are not of primarily organic origin and are usually associated with clandestine manufacture.

2 “Super labs” are those labs that are capable of producing at least 10 pounds of methamphetamine per cycle.

3 A visit to the emergency room is referred to as an episode, and every time a drug is involved in an episode it is counted as a mention.

4 U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration. Detailed Emergency Department Tables from DAWN: 2003. December 2004.

5 U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration. (2005). Overview of Findings from the 2004 National Survey on Drug Use and Health.

6 Drug Availability Steering Committee, Drug Availability Estimates in the United States, December 2002.

7 Executive Office of the President, Office of National Drug Control Policy. What Americans Spend on Illegal Drugs 1988-1998. December 2000.

8 U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration. (2005). Overview of Findings from the 2004 National Survey on Drug Use and Health.

9 U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration. (2002). National Household Survey on Drug Abuse: Vol 1. Summary of National Findings.

10 U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration. Detailed Emergency Department Tables from DAWN: 2003. December 2004.

11 U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration. (2005). Overview of Findings from the 2004 National Survey on Drug Use and Health.

12 Ibid.

13 U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration. Detailed Emergency Department Tables from DAWN: 2003. December 2004.

14 U.S. Department of Justice, National Drug Intelligence Center. (2006). 2006 National Drug Threat Assessment.

15 Ibid.

16 U.S. Department of Justice, National Drug Intelligence Center. (2006). 2006 National Drug Threat Assessment.

17 U.S. Department of Justice, National Drug Intelligence Center. (2006). 2006 National Drug Threat Assessment.


According to the Clandestine Laboratory Seizure System database located at the DEA’s El Paso Intelligence Center (EPIC), 11,746 labs, dumpsites, and chemicals, glass, and equipment were seized in the United States in CY 2005. Of those seized, 5,308 labs were capable of producing only up to one pound of methamphetamine per cycle. In FY 2005, DEA domestic seizures of methamphetamine totaled 3.1 metric tons, which is the equivalent to approximately 367 million dosage units. FY 2005 seizures increased by 24 percent from FY 2004, when 2.5 metric tons were seized.

The most promising means of eliminating STLs is to choke off the sources for ephedrine and pseudoephedrine. DEA has removed a number of distributors of grey market drug products (those that can be purchased at truck stops, party/liquor stores, etc.) from the marketplace. Following DEA’s success with removing grey market distributors, STLs have become heavily reliant on obtaining precursor chemicals from cold and asthma drug products (usually packaged in blister packs) from traditional retail outlets, such as chain drug stores. Based on clandestine lab seizure statistics, those states restricting the availability of methamphetamine precursor chemicals, like pseudoephedrine, have seen a dramatic decrease in the number of small toxic labs. With the enactment of federal and state legislation limiting the sale of products containing pseudoephedrine and ephedrine, further reduction in the number of STLs is anticipated.

Once a STL has been identified, it must be dismantled. DEA assists state and local law enforcement by providing hazardous waste contractor clean-up services administered through Community Oriented Policing Services (COPS) grant funding. In FY 2005, DEA administered 8,678 state and local clandestine clean ups. This is a decrease from FY 2004 when 9,474 clean ups were administered. In addition, DEA has trained nearly 12,000 federal, state, and local law enforcement personnel since 1998 to conduct investigations and dismantle seized methamphetamine labs to protect the public from methamphetamine lab toxic waste.

At the end of the first quarter of FY 2006, there were 298 active DEA Priority Target Organization (PTO) investigations with methamphetamine as the primary drug type. Seven (7) of the 44 organizations (16 percent) on the FY 2006 Consolidated Priority Organization Target (CPOT) list are engaged in methamphetamine trafficking. At the end of the first quarter of FY 2006, there were 157 active PTO investigations linked to those 7 CPOTs. Since the inception of the PTO program, DEA has disrupted or dismantled 427 methamphetamine PTOs.



Operational Highlight: Operations Cold Remedy and Aztec Flu
From March 2003 to March 2005, as part of DEA’s Operations Cold Remedy and Aztec Flu, more than five metric tons of 60 milligram tablets of pseudoephedrine were seized in the United States, Mexico, and Panama -- which could have yielded an excess of 3 metric tons of methamphetamine. The seizures were conducted by DEA with Mexico’s Organized Crime Prosecutor’s Office and Hong Kong law enforcement authorities. Operations Cold Remedy and Aztec Flu are investigations run under the auspices of Project Prism, an international initiative aimed at assisting governments in developing and implementing cooperating procedures more effectively control and monitor trade in amphetamine-type stimulant precursors to prevent their diversion. Participants of Project Prism include 95 countries and 5 international organizations.

Operational Highlight: MET Case Against Street Gang “Satan’s Disciples”

On March 7, 2006, the DEA Dallas Field Division MET concluded a nine-month deployment and OCDETF/PTO investigation that resulted in the dismemberment of seven methamphetamine trafficking organization and two crack cocaine organizations. The investigation targeted Rocky Salazar who headed a street gang named Satan’s Disciples, responsible for distributing methamphetamine in the Gainesville, Texas area. The Satan’s Disciples also distributed narcotics and laundered money in three separate casinos located on Indian Reservations in nearby Oklahoma. The investigation culminated with the arrest of 93 individuals (81 state and 12 federal), including Priority Target Salazar, and the seizure of 0.6 kilograms of crack cocaine, 0.2 kilograms of powder cocaine, 2.5 kilograms of marijuana, 8.8 kilograms of methamphetamine, 0.6 kilograms of GHB, 65 firearms, $167,000 in U.S. currency, $70,000 in real property, and four vehicles. DEA conducted this enforcement operation together with ATF, BIA, the Chickasaw Indian Nation, and state and local officers from Texas and Oklahoma.



B. Marijuana


Marijuana continues to be a significant threat because today’s potent marijuana causes more teens to be dependent on it. This is supported by the following data: (1) More teens seek treatment for marijuana dependency than for all other drugs combined including alcohol. (2) Marijuana was involved in 79,663 emergency department visits 3 in CY 2003, second only to cocaine among drug-related visits4 (3)The 2004 NSDUH found that marijuana was the most commonly used illicit drug with 14.6 million users (6.1 percent of the population 12 and older) during the past month in CY 2004 - the same as in CY 2003.5 (4) Past year use of marijuana remained unchanged statistically between CY 2003 and CY 2004 at 10.6 percent.

Marijuana trafficking is prevalent across the nation, with both domestic and foreign sources of supply. The most recent supply availability estimates indicate that between 10,000 and 24,000 pure metric tons of marijuana are available in the United States6 and that Americans spend more than $10.4 billion every year on marijuana.7 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 traffic marijuana to help finance their other drug operations.

Mexican drug trafficking organizations dominate the transportation and wholesale distribution of the majority of foreign-based marijuana available in the United States and cultivate marijuana on U.S. public lands throughout California. High grade marijuana from Canada, commonly referred to as “BC Bud,” also is available in every region of the United States.

At the end of the first quarter of FY 2006, there were 146 active PTO investigations with marijuana as the primary drug type. Twelve (12) of the 44 organizations on the FY 2006 CPOT list (27 percent) are engaged in marijuana trafficking. At the end of the first quarter of FY 2006, there were 385 active DEA PTO investigations linked to these 12 CPOTs. Since the inception of the PTO program, DEA has disrupted or dismantled 208 marijuana PTOs.



Operational Highlight: Operation Falling Star

As of the end of 2005, this Organized Crime Drug Enforcement Task Force (OCDETF)/SOD coordinated operation targeting a Detroit and Phoenix-based marijuana drug trafficking organization (DTO), resulted in 63 arrests, and the seizure of $13.7 million in cash, 16.4 metric tons of marijuana, 305 kilograms of cocaine, 14 properties, 22 vehicles, and 42 weapons, leading to the dismantlement of the drug trafficking organization. The Detroit target, Quasand Lewis, has been targeted for approximately ten years by state and local law enforcement agencies for his suspected involvement in several homicides and extensive drug trafficking and witness intimidation. The focal point of the investigation, Giovanni Ruanova, coordinated multi-million dollar currency transportation routes and pick-ups from Detroit.



C. Non-medical use of prescription drugs


Non-medical use of addictive prescription drugs has been increasing throughout the United States at alarming rates. In CY 2004, an estimated 6.0 million8 Americans age 12 and older reported past month use of prescription drugs for non-medical purposes compared to 3.8 million in CY 2000 9 - a 58 percent increase in 4 years. Nationally, the misuse of prescription drugs was second only to marijuana in CY 2004.

Individual users can easily acquire prescription drugs through a variety of means, generally dependent on type of drug. DEA and other data sources reveal that OxyContin ® and other Schedule II drugs are most commonly obtained illegally through “doctor shopping” or are sold illegally by registrants (e.g., doctors/pharmacists). On the other hand, Schedule III and Schedule IV drugs (e.g., anti-anxiety medications, hydrocodone, and anabolic steroids) are often purchased through the Internet. Many of these e-pharmacies are foreign-based and expose the purchaser to potentially counterfeit, contaminated, or adulterated products.



Operational Highlight: An Advanced Pain Management Case

In April 2005, DEA culminated a five year OCDETF and Priority Target investigation that resulted in the dismantlement of a major prescription drug trafficking organization and the seizure of $1.6 million in cash, $4.7 million in financial and approximately $4.8 million in real assets. Five individuals, including three physicians, were arrested and charged with the distribution of pharmaceutical controlled substances, distribution of drugs to a minor, conspiracy, and money laundering. The physicians prescribed a cocktail of hydrocodone, Xanax and Soma to approximately 100-300 patients per day under the guise of “pain management”. To date, this investigation has resulted in Immediate Suspensions of DEA Registrations of the doctors and four pharmacies were also issued.



DEA, in collaboration with its state and local law enforcement counterparts, investigates registrants and non-registrants who intentionally divert prescription drugs. DEA has made pharmaceutical investigations a priority and continues to focus its drug enforcement efforts toward the most important members of the drug supply chain. In FY 2005, DEA opened 1,672 investigations focused on the diversion of pharmaceutical controlled substances by registrants and non-registrants, an approximate increase of 11 percent over FY 2004 (1,508). DEA’s FY 2005 Priority Target pharmaceutical investigations of key drug supply organizations (59) represents a dramatic increase (168 percent) over FY 2004 (22).

Combating the diversion of OxyContin® remains a priority within DEA. Of the 1,668 open investigations in FY 2005, 117 were open OxyContin® investigations involving 48 doctors. Of those 117 OxyContin® investigations, 25 were Priority Target investigations.

The illicit sale of controlled pharmaceutical substances, including narcotics, anti-anxiety medications, steroids, and amphetamines, is a serious global problem and the Internet has become one of the most popular sources for these products. DEA targets its investigations on domestic Internet pharmacies using data from available data bases (such as the Automated Reporting of Completed Orders System—ARCOS) to determine which retail pharmacies are most likely involved in distribution of large quantities of controlled substances over the Internet. In FY 2005, 11.2 percent of investigative work hours dedicated to open diversion cases were Internet cases. This is an increase of 30 percent from FY 2004 when Internet cases represented 8.6 percent of the investigative work hours dedicated to open diversion cases. In FY 2005, as a result of online pharmacy investigations, DEA seized over $32 million in financial and property assets. This is a 184 percent increase from FY 2004 when asset seizures totaled $11 million.



Operational Highlight: Operation Cyber Chase
In April 2005, a one-year, multi-jurisdictional OCDETF investigation (Operation Cyber Chase) was concluded with the dismantlement of the Bansal drug trafficking organization and the arrest of 20 individuals in New York, Philadelphia, India, Costa Rica, Austria, and Hungary. Those arrested were distributing drugs worldwide using rogue Internet pharmacies to dispense controlled substances directly to customers without a medical evaluation by a physician. The Bansal organization used over 200 websites to distribute 2.5 million dosage units of Schedule II through IV pharmaceutical controlled substances per month. Electronic mail communications among the co-conspirators included: “It’s not easy to get rich. My goal is towards the upper echelon of economic independence. All things considered, it should only take about 800 million. That’s um, 3000 packs of valium sold a day for 5 years. Well, that’s actually about 921 mill, but I’m not sure there’ll be a few costs in there somewhere.” As of September 30, 2005, Operation Cyber Chase has resulted in 26 arrests, the seizure of 5.8 million dosage units of Schedule II – IV controlled substances, 105 kilograms of Ketamine, and $8.6 million.



D. Cocaine

Cocaine remains a major illegal drug of concern throughout the United States based upon abuse indicators, violence associated with the trade, and trafficking volume. After marijuana and prescription drugs, cocaine continues to be the most widely used illicit drug among all age categories. The 2004 NSDUH found that 2 million people used cocaine within the past 30 days and that over 5.6 million people used it within the past year. According to the 2003 DAWN report, cocaine is the most frequently reported illegal drug in hospital emergency department visits, accounting for 1 in 5 (20 percent) drug related emergency room visits in CY 2003.10

Although Columbia is the principal supplier of cocaine to the United States, most of the wholesale cocaine distribution in the United States is controlled by Mexican drug trafficking organizations and criminal enterprises. Even in areas dominated by Colombian and Dominican drug trafficking organizations, such as the Northeast and Caribbean regions, the influence of Mexican drug trafficking organizations is increasing.

At the end of the first quarter of FY 2006, there were 1,028 active DEA PTO investigations with cocaine as the primary drug type. Thirty-nine (39) of the 44 organizations on the FY 2006 CPOT list (89 percent) are engaged in cocaine trafficking. At the end of the first quarter of FY 2006, there were 514 active PTO investigations linked to these 39 CPOTs. Since the inception of the PTO program, DEA has disrupted or dismantled 1,208 cocaine PTOs.



Operational Highlight: Operations Firewall and Panama Express

DEA’s multi-agency cocaine interdiction programs – known as Operation Firewall and Operation Panama Express – combine investigative and intelligence resources to interdict and disrupt the flow of cocaine from the northern coast of Colombia to the United States. Since the July 2003 commencement of Operation Firewall, 29.2 metric tons of cocaine have been directly seized. In addition, Operation Firewall has provided assistance in Operation Panama Express seizures of 33.2 metric tons of cocaine, and in other foreign countries with the seizure of 25.7 metric tons of cocaine. Since the February 2000 implementation of Operation Panama Express to December 31, 2005, 356 metric tons of cocaine have been seized, 109.2 metric tons of cocaine have been scuttled, and 1,107 individuals arrested. As of December 31, 2005, these combined operations have resulted in total seizures of 410.9 metric tons of cocaine.



E. Heroin

The overall demand for heroin in the United States is lower than for other major drugs of abuse such as cocaine, marijuana, methamphetamine, and MDMA.11 However, one cause for concern is the recent increase in heroin use. According to the 2004 NSDUH, 166,000 people aged 12 and older (0.1 percent) reported using heroin during the past 30 days in CY 2003 compared to 119,000 (0.1 percent) in CY 2003.12 Heroin remains readily available in major metropolitan areas and is the third most frequently mentioned illegal drug reported to DAWN by participating emergency departments after cocaine and marijuana, accounting for 47,604 mentions in CY 2003.13

Most of the heroin entering the United States is produced in South America and Mexico. Although heroin production in these areas has decreased in recent years, the production capacity remains sufficient to meet U.S. demand for the drug.14 In 2004, Afghanistan produced more than 90 percent of the worldwide heroin produced.15 However, Afghanistan is not currently a major heroin supplier to the United States; only about 8 percent of the U.S. supply comes from that country.

At the end of the first quarter of FY 2006, there were 240 active DEA PTO investigations with heroin as the primary drug type. Fourteen (14) of the 44 organizations on the FY 2006 CPOT list (32 percent) are engaged in heroin trafficking. At the end of the first quarter of FY 2006, there were 514 active PTO investigations linked to these 14 CPOTs. Since the inception of the PTO program, DEA has disrupted or dismantled 357 heroin PTOs.


Operational Highlight: Operation Containment and FAST
Through Operation Containment, DEA is working with a coalition of 19 countries from Central Asia, the Caucasus, Europe, and Russia, to reduce the flow of Afghan heroin into world markets, prevent Afghanistan from becoming a major heroin supplier to the United States, and disrupt drug related terrorist activities that could hamper the long term stabilization of the Afghanistan government. In FY 2005, Operation Containment resulted in the seizure of 11.5 metric tons of heroin, 1.3 metric tons of morphine base, 43.9 metric tons of opium gum, 14.2 metric tons of precursor chemicals, and 248 clandestine opium, morphine, and heroin conversion laboratories. By comparison, just three years prior, .47 metric tons of heroin was seized, representing a 2,300 percent increase in FY 2005. Operation Containment also resulted in the initiation of 146 investigations and led to the disruption of two CPOTs, including the Haji Bashir Noorzai and Haji Baz Mohammad organizations in FY 2005. DEA’s Foreign-deployed Advisory Support Team (FAST) Program augments Operation Containment. Since being deployed in April 2005, the FAST program has trained over 100 Afghan officers who work bi-laterally with DEA’s FAST teams. One successful FAST operation occurred on June 18, 2005, when the DEA Kabul Country Office, FAST, United Kingdom forces, and the U.S. trained Afghan officers raided and destroyed four fully operational clandestine heroin laboratories. One of the four opium-to-morphine base conversion laboratories destroyed was one of the largest seized in Afghanistan. Approximately 4.4 metric tons of opium, hundreds of gallons of chemicals, four opium presses, six opium vats, and 500 kilograms of soda ash were destroyed.



F. Transit Zones

The Southwest Border area is the principal arrival zone for most illicit drugs smuggled into the United States. From that area, the smuggled drugs are distributed throughout the country.

Most cocaine is transported from South America, particularly Colombia, through the Mexico–Central America Corridor via the Eastern Pacific transit zone (50 percent) and the Western Caribbean zone (40 percent). Most of the cocaine transiting these two areas is ultimately smuggled into the country via the Southwest Border. The remaining 10 percent of cocaine transported from South America mostly transits the Caribbean zones to Florida and the Gulf Coast.16

According to the 2006 National Drug Threat Assessment, methamphetamine seizures increased from 1.12 metric tons in CY 2002, to 1.73 metric tons in CY 2003, to 1.98 metric tons in CY 2004. Most of the foreign-produced marijuana available in the United States is smuggled into the country from Mexico via the Southwest Border by Mexican drug trafficking organizations and criminal groups, as evidenced by CY 2004 seizures of 1,103 metric tons on the Southwest Border versus 9.2 metric tons on the Northern Border.

In CY 2004, seizures for Southwest Border points of entry included 22.4 metric tons of cocaine, 388 kilograms of heroin, 1,070 metric tons of marijuana, and 2.3 metric tons of methamphetamine. By comparison, seizures in the Florida/Caribbean arrival zone for the same time period included 10.5 metric tons of cocaine, 481 kilograms of heroin, 4.9 metric tons of marijuana and no methamphetamine.


Operational Highlight: Discovery of Narcotics Smuggling Tunnel
Acting on intelligence from a Confidential Source, in January 2006, a joint investigation between DEA, Immigration and Customs Enforcement, United States Border Patrol, and the Mexican Policia Federal Preventia culminated in the discovery of a narcotics smuggling tunnel. The tunnel spanned the United States/Mexican border just east of the Otay Mesa, California Port of Entry and resulted in the seizure of approximately two tons of marijuana. The discovery of the tunnel followed an extensive investigation resulting from DEA and ICE confidential source information. The tunnel, approximately 86 feet deep and nearly three-quarters of a mile long, originated inside a small warehouse in Otay Mesa, Mexico, and exited inside a vacant warehouse in San Diego, California.



II. Financial Investigations

Drug trafficking organizations are motivated by one thing – money. According to the 2006 National Drug Threat Assessment, between $13.6 billion and $48.4 billion is generated annually by wholesale-level drug distribution.17 To truly dismantle drug enterprises, we must attack the drug trafficking organizations’ ability to collect proceeds from the drug trade.

DEA has reenergized and refocused its attack on the financial infrastructure of drug cartels. DEA’s Office of Financial Operations and specialized Money Laundering Groups in DEA’s 21 domestic field divisions principally target the drug money laundering systems and the drug profits that flow back to the sources of drug supply. In FY 2005, DEA established a five-year plan with annual milestones through FY 2009. The plan calls for DEA to increase seizures until we seize drug profits at a level each year that will actually destroy drug networks rather than being viewed by traffickers only as an expected cost of doing business. To do this, DEA must seize $3 billion from drug trafficking organizations each year. In the first year under this plan, DEA denied drug traffickers $1.9 billion in revenue in FY 2005 – including $1.4 billion in seized assets and $477 million in drug seizures – exceeding DEA’s first year goal of $1 billion in seizures by 90 percent.

The smuggling of large sums of cash across our borders continues to be the primary method used to expatriate drug proceeds from the United States to the source countries. To address this increasing threat, the DEA has initiated a bulk currency program to coordinate all U.S. highway interdiction money seizures. Bulk currency cash seizures in FY 2005 totaled $407 million, a 28 percent increase over the $317 million seized in FY 2004.



Operational Highlight: Arrest of Martin Tremblay
On January 20, 2006, Martin Tremblay, a Canadian national and President and Managing Director of the Bahamas-based investment firm “Dominion Investments, LTD” was arrested by the DEA and other federal and state law enforcement agencies. Tremblay was indicted for conspiracy to launder narcotics proceeds in a long-term money laundering scheme from approximately 1998 through December 2005. Tremblay conspired to launder $1 billion in illegal drug proceeds for “Dominion Investment” clients in exchange for a substantial commission. Dominion Investment was used by Tremblay to create shell companies and fictitious entities to launder the drug proceeds he received to offshore accounts in the United States, Canada, Switzerland, and elsewhere around the world. Tremblay’s activities as a money launderer were first identified in an international DEA drug investigation targeting subjects distributing GHB over the Internet (Operations Webslinger and Black Goblin). Other federal and state law enforcement agencies involved in this case include the Internal Revenue Service, Criminal Investigations Division (IRS/CID) the New York State Police, and the Organized Crime Drug Enforcement Strike Force in New York, New York.

Operational Highlight: Operations Dirty Dinero /Common Denominator
On March 2, 2006, in a joint action between the Colombian National Police and the Drug Enforcement Administration, Financial CPOT Ricardo Mauricio BERNAL-Palacios, his brother Juan BERNAL-Palacios and Tier 1 Money Broker Camillo ORTIZ-Echeverri were arrested in Bogotá, Colombia. These arrests were based on provisional arrest warrants filed against the three in relation to a February 2006 indictment in the Southern District of Florida charging 48 counts of money laundering, 18 USC 1956 (h) and one count of conspiracy to distribute cocaine, 21 USC 846.



III. Gangs


Gangs have become an increasing threat to our nation’s security and the safety of our communities. Seventy-five percent of the United States Attorneys report that parts of their districts currently have a moderate or significant gang problem. Gangs commonly use drug trafficking as a means to finance their criminal activities. Furthermore, many have evolved from turf-oriented entities to profit-driven, organized criminal enterprises whose activities include not only retail drug distribution but also other aspects of the trade, including smuggling, transportation and wholesale distribution.

Criminal street gangs, outlaw motorcycle gangs, and prison gangs are the primary retail distributors of illegal drugs on the streets of the United States and the threat of these gangs is magnified by the high level of violence associated with their attempts to control and expand drug distribution operations. Gangs primarily transport and distribute cocaine, heroin, marijuana, and methamphetamine. Authorities throughout the country report that gangs are responsible for most of the serious violent crime in the major cities of the United States.

DEA is committed to combating the gang problem within the United States. As of February 7, 2006, approximately 12 percent (239) of DEA’s total active Priority Target investigations target gangs. In addition, DEA’s Mobile Enforcement Teams (METs) target violent drug trafficking organizations in areas where state, local, and tribal law enforcement is challenged by limited resources to counter the threat. Often, these MET deployments target violent gangs involved in drug trafficking activity, such as the Hell’s Angels, Latin Kings, Bloods, Crips, Mexican Mafia, and Gangster Disciples. In FY 2004, approximately 27 percent (11 of 40) of MET deployments targeted gangs. Gang related MET deployments increased to 38 percent in FY 2005, when 15 of 39 MET deployments initiated targeted gangs. Through the second quarter of FY 2006, 5 of 14 deployments (35 percent) targeted gangs.

DEA also recognizes the value of an integrated, collaborative and comprehensive approach to multi-faceted gang organizations and their operations. DEA participates in a number of anti-gang initiatives with other law enforcement components, including Violent Crime Impact Teams, Project Safe Neighborhoods, Weed and Seed Program, Safe Streets and Safe Trails Task Forces and the Attorney General’s Anti-Gang Coordination Committee.



Operational Highlight: Operation Motor City Mafia

Operation Motor City Mafia was a Special Operations Division-supported, OCDETF and PTO investigation of the Black Mafia Family (BMF). DEA and the Internal Revenue Service identified the BMF as a major cocaine and crack cocaine distribution organization with cells in major metropolitan cities including Detroit, Atlanta, Los Angeles, Miami, St. Louis, Orlando, and Louisville. The BMF uses the rap music industry to distribute hundreds of kilograms of cocaine and to launder millions of dollars in drug proceeds. The BMF has used intimidation, violence, and murder to maintain their strong presence among their urban drug trafficking organizations. As of January 27, 2006, Operation Motor City Mafia resulted in the arrest of 53 defendants and the seizure of 385 kilograms of cocaine, 1.2 metric tons of marijuana, $4.6 million, and other assets valued at over $16 million.


IV. State and Local Assistance

DEA provides direct assistance to state and local law enforcement agencies through its State and Local Law Enforcement Officer Training program, State and Local Task Force program, and Mobile Enforcement Team (MET) program. In addition, DEA provides clandestine laboratory clean up assistance to state and local law enforcement agencies.


State and Local Training: DEA trained 22 percent more state and local officers in FY 2005 (41,853) than FY 2004 (34,183), including training in responding to clandestine laboratories, drug diversion, and law enforcement intelligence.

State and Local Task Forces: DEA’s partnerships with federal, state, local, and international law enforcement entities serve as force multipliers in our efforts to reduce the availability of illicit drugs in America. As of the end of first quarter FY 2006, DEA’s State and Local Task Forces numbered 214 and included over 2,500 authorized Task Force Officers with more than 1,100 authorized DEA Special Agents.

Mobile Enforcement Teams: In April 1995, DEA created the MET Program to assist state, local, and tribal law enforcement in the disruption or dismantlement of violent drug trafficking organizations and gangs. Since March 2005, METs have prioritized deployments on methamphetamine, targeting repeat meth offenders and clandestine laboratory operators in areas of the United States that have a limited DEA presence. Since the re-direction of MET, 44 percent (20 out of 45) of new MET deployments opened in FY 2005 were methamphetamine deployments. This is nearly double the methamphetamine deployments by METs from FY 2003 to FY 2004. During this period, an average of 24 percent of new MET deployments were focused on methamphetamine.

Hazardous Waste Program: Established in 1990 to address environmental concerns from the seizure of clandestine drug laboratories, DEA’s hazardous waste program promotes the safety of law enforcement personnel and the public by using highly qualified companies with specialized training and equipment to perform the removal of the methamphetamine-related wastes at seized laboratories. In FY 2005, DEA administered 8,678 state and local clandestine clean ups. In addition, DEA has trained nearly 12,000 federal, state, and local law enforcement personnel since 1998 to conduct investigations and dismantle seized methamphetamine labs to protect the public from methamphetamine lab toxic waste. To accelerate the clean up process and reduce costs borne by state and local governments associated with seized sites, DEA has developed a hazardous waste container program that will allow for the central collection of waste products, reducing the time and expense of lab clean ups. A pilot program in Kentucky produced savings of $800,000 in FY 2005 and approximately $500,000 in FY 2004.