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GetSmart About Drugs - A DEA Resource for Parents

News Release
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
February 23, 1999

DEA ANNOUNCES NATIONAL PLAN OF ACTION TO ADDRESS DRUG PROBLEMS IN AMERICA'S MID-SIZED COMMUNITIES

Herndon, Virginia -- Thomas A. Constantine, Administrator of the Drug Enforcement Administration announced today that DEA is undertaking a "national plan of action to help America's smaller cities and communities deal with the problems of drugs, crime and violence. DEA is combining forces with the U.S. Conference of Mayors and The National Center on Addiction and Substance Abuse (CASA) at Columbia University to address the drug trafficking and drug abuse problems of communities that are now being targeted by international drug trafficking syndicates who are trafficking cocaine, methamphetamine and heroin, resulting in increased violence and criminal activity. Law enforcement executives from over 80 communities across the nation are providing us with their advice on how we can best support them as they face the problems of drugs and crime in their communities."

At today's session, CASA Director Joseph Califano and the incoming President of the U.S. Conference of Mayors, Brent Coles from Boise, Idaho, spoke about the pervasiveness of the drug problem across the nation, and highlighted the need for public attention on the hardships that smaller cities and communities are facing as a result of increased drug trafficking and abuse.

With dramatic decreases in the crime rates in major urban areas, international-based drug trafficking organizations have moved their activities to communities which are often unprepared to face the attendant violence and social problems that increased drug abuse causes. Responding to a survey sent to participants before the conference, law enforcement representatives reported on the nature and severity of the drug problem they are facing. The most significant drug problems facing these communities were cocaine and methamphetamine, with a number of individual cities reporting that heroin was their most serious drug problem. 68% of the law enforcement representatives reported that the drugs available on their streets were trafficked by drug trafficking organizations controlled by groups outside of the United States. 48% of respondents stated that their communities were being impacted by drug traffickers from Mexico. 80% indicated that they were experiencing high or moderate levels of violence in their communities, and according to 76% of those surveyed, compared to five years ago, their drug problem increased, and in many cases, increased significantly.

Constantine stated that "DEA is prepared to redouble our efforts to assist smaller communities with programs such as the Mobile Enforcement Teams (METs) and Regional Enforcement Teams (RETs), which help state and local law enforcement organizations overcome a lack of resources and manpower as they attempt to address the violence and drug trafficking activities of organizations, often with foreign sources of supply. This conference is giving us an opportunity to broaden our plan of attack by developing a comprehensive strategy that combines law enforcement, research and prevention to reach out to communities that are currently facing their drug problems as best they can. I expect that by working to attack the drug problem from many angles, smaller cities and communities across the United States will be spared the nightmare that our major urban areas endured for well over a decade."

VIDEO HIGHLIGHTS OF THIS CONFERENCE WILL BE AVAILABLE VIA SATELLITE ON GE-2, TRANSPONDER 6 AT 3:30 AND 9:00 PM EST.

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