Narcotic and Dangerous Drug Section (NDDS)

Narcotic and Dangerous Drug Section (NDDS)

Our mission is to reduce the supply of illegal drugs in the United States by investigating and prosecuting priority national and international drug trafficking groups and by providing sound legal, strategic and policy guidance in support of that end.

Our efforts in support of this mission are broken into the following two broad functional areas:

Policy: The Narcotic and Dangerous Drug Section (NDDS) provides advice and support on a broad range of counternarcotics matters to the Attorney General and other Department policy makers, represents the Department and provides expert guidance on counternarcotics matters in the interagency, intelligence and international communities.

NDDS provides cutting edge assistance, training, and advice on narcotics and electronic surveillance issues to all the U.S. Attorneys' offices and federal agencies on a daily basis. Senior NDDS attorneys conduct training and give lectures for DEA, FBI and U.S. Customs, as well as for the Department's Office of Legal Education. We publish a monthly newsletter, delivered to all U.S. Attorneys and agencies, addressing new issues in narcotics law, and have published a treatise on narcotics prosecutions, which we continually update.

NDDS is responsible for developing innovative law enforcement and prosecutorial strategies to counteract the fast paced efforts organized international trafficking groups. We enjoy an excellent reputation with federal law enforcement, in the interagency community, and with the U.S. Attorneys' offices for our ability to confront and solve legal and policy problems involved in counternarcotics enforcement.

Litigation: Federal narcotics prosecutors face sophisticated international organized crime syndicates from Colombia and Mexico, as well as other countries. These organizations produce high volumes of illegal drugs and use foreign countries as platforms from which to control their empires. These traffickers maintain control of their workers through highly compartmentalized cell structures that separate production, shipment, distribution, money laundering, communications and security. They use corruption and intimidation. These traffickers have at their disposal the most sophisticated vehicles, boats, airplanes, communications equipment, legal representation and weapons that money can buy.

Prosecuting the high level command and control elements of these organizations -- the kingpins -- requires breaking through their tightly compartmentalized structure to obtain evidence of their wrongdoing. It requires a coordinated national and international approach against an adversary that is equally coordinated and international in scope.

No other group of drug prosecutors in the country can do what we do: use the best intelligence available to identify the drug trafficking groups that pose the greatest threat, and then marshal resources to investigate and prosecute them -- anywhere in the country or anywhere in the world.

The Bilateral Case Initiative is an NDDS program in which NDDS attorneys, in close coordination with DEA Office of Foreign Operations, the Special Operations Division, and the interagency Linear Approach Committee, investigates and prosecutes large transnational narcotics traffickers in U.S. courts, using evidence gathered by law enforcement activities of foreign governments.

The Special Operations Division (SOD) is a multi-agency body designed to identify and dismantle significant international and domestic drug trafficking and money laundering organizations. NDDS directs and coordinates SOD investigations with Assistant U.S. Attorneys across the country to ensure that each district involved in a nationwide investigation is informed as to the actions taking place in the other districts and the interrelationship of each district in the overall criminal conspiracy. NDDS ensures that each district agrees to a coordinated plan of attack, so that large, nationwide trafficking groups are taken down in a single, well-timed enforcement action. In addition, attorneys from NDDS are deployed to assist in national priority SOD investigations as needed.

The SOD strategy of targeting the command and control elements of major trafficking groups is the best strategy we have to deal with the drug supply problem today, and its success has been demonstrated time and again.

Examples of these investigations include:

  • Operation Mountain express, targeting brokers of methamphetamine precursor chemicals (150 arrests in ten judicial districts nationwide, seizures of 10 metric tons of pseudoephedrine capable of producing 18,000 pounds of methamphetamine, 83 pounds of finished methamphetamine, 2 pseudoephedrine extraction laboratories, 1 methamphetamine laboratory, 136 pounds of processing chemicals, and $8 million in cash,);
  • Operation Tar Pit, targeting Mexican heroin traffickers (over 200 arrests in eight judicial districts and in Mexico); and
  • Operation Impunity, targeting a significant Mexican cocaine transportation importation and transportation ring (105 arrests, seizures of 12,357 kilograms of cocaine, one-half kilo of heroin, 4,806 pounds of marijuana and more than $19 million in U.S. currency, spanning nine judicial districts and the Dominican Republic).

Marlon Cobar
Acting Chief, Narcotic and Dangerous Drug Section

Lena Watkins
Acting Principal Deputy Chief, Narcotic and Dangerous Drug Section

Leonard LeVine
Deputy Chief for Special Operations

Harry Matz
Acting Deputy Chief for Policy

Katharine Wagner
Acting Deputy Chief for Litigation

Kaitlin Sahni
Assistant Deputy Chief for Litigation


Department of Justice Main Switchboard
(202) 514-2000

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