DEA Congressional Testimony
April 19, 2007

Statement of
Karen P. Tandy, Administrator
Drug Enforcement Administration
Before the Senate Committee on Appropriations
Subcommittee on Commerce, Justice, Science, and Related Agencies
April 19, 2007 10:00 a.m.

Madam Chairman and Members of the Subcommittee: It is my pleasure to discuss the President’s 2008 budget request for the Drug Enforcement Administration.

I want to thank this Subcommittee for its support to DEA as we lead the nation’s fight against drugs. Senator Mikulski, we are especially grateful to you for including $25 million in the supplemental spending bill to lift our hiring freeze and to fund DEA’s counter-terrorism initiatives.

In unprecedented numbers, DEA is toppling cartel kingpins and stripping their drug trafficking organizations not only of massive amounts of drugs but also their illicit revenues. By 2009, our goal is to take $3 billion each year from international drug trafficking networks operating in this country.

In the last 2 years combined, we stripped drug trafficking organizations of $3.5 billion in revenues through the seizure of assets and drugs. Already—just half way through Fiscal Year 2007—we have seized an astounding $1.1 billion. This figure includes $90 million in cash and gold that DEA and our Colombian partners stripped from the North Valley Cartel in January.

For 60 days, this was the world record for cash seizures. Until our Mexican partners, with whom DEA has been working more closely than ever over the past year, made the single largest cash seizure the world has ever seen—stripping methamphetamine chemical traffickers of $207 million in cash.

2 days later, DEA information resulted in another record-setting seizure. This time of drugs: 21 tons of cocaine off the coast of Panama —worth more than $300 million wholesale.

With these unrelated operations, DEA dealt Mexican traffickers a one-two punch: they’re down more than half a billion dollars in blood money in just 48 hours.

Other enforcement actions also have impacted these traffickers:

  • In January, DEA agents took custody of 10 major drug traffickers on U.S. soil in an unprecedented extradition from Mexico, which included violent kingpins and leaders from all 4 of Mexico’s major drug cartels.
  • Less than 2 months ago, DEA dismantled the U.S. infrastructure of a powerful Mexican drug cartel—arresting 400 members of this organization nationwide and seizing $46 million in cash and 18 tons of marijuana, cocaine, meth, and heroin.
  • Thanks to federal legislation passed by Congress, state legislation, and tough enforcement efforts, over the past 5 years, we’ve slashed the number of small toxic meth labs in this country by 61%, and superlab seizures in the U.S. plummeted 94%.

All of these efforts by DEA and our partners are affecting drug organizations financially and operationally:

  • According to recent intelligence, some trafficking organizations now are having difficulty finding transportation groups to move cocaine from Mexico to the U.S., which has led to a significant surcharge to the price per kilo of cocaine, and
  • Some U.S.-based meth traffickers are having difficulty acquiring meth from some sources of supply in Mexico.

These DEA victories in reducing the drug supply also have contributed to the 23% drop in our nation’s drug use over the past 5 years, because if drugs are plentiful, drug prevention efforts will not take root and drug treatment won’t succeed.

Despite these achievements, DEA faces challenges fighting an evolving drug trade:

First, we no longer just fight traditional drugs of abuse. In just 5 years, the number of Americans abusing prescription drugs rose more than 2/3—from 3.8 million abusers to 6.4 million. Fueling this increase is the proliferation of illicit internet websites that make it possible, with one simple click, to purchase controlled substances. With additional funds, DEA can do more online diversion investigations.

Second, we need to increase our enforcement along the Southwest Border—where approximately 85% of drugs are smuggled into this country. Additional funds will allow us to step up the fight there with improvements to our aviation, surveillance, and communications systems.

A third challenge is our limited intelligence infrastructure. For example, if a multi-ton load of cocaine is seized off the African coast, and DEA gets classified intelligence about it—we need to pass and work that information via a classified electronic investigative system to our offices around the world. The problem is, we have no such investigative computer system anywhere in Africa or the Middle East. These computers are in limited places in South America and Europe. The ones we have in the U.S. are aging and in dire need of upgrades. Without an enhancement, DEA cannot readily share and investigate the kind of information necessary to take down drug cartels.

Finally, intercepting traffickers’ communications is DEA’s most valuable weapon. Traffickers now have the Internet and encrypted communications technology at their disposal. Consequently, we are seeking an enhancement to expand our Internet intercept capabilities so that we can get a trafficker’s encrypted communications the same as we now get his landline or cell phone conversations with a court order.

These budget enhancements will allow DEA to fight the drug trade across our nation, the globe, and into cyberspace and also will help put our agency on the path back to a solid financial footing. DEA thanks you for your support as we continue our work every day to protect this country and its future generations.

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