Thomas A. Constantine, Administrator
Senate Committee on Appropriations Subcommittee for the Departments of Commerce, Justice, State, the Judiciary & Related Agencies
March 24, 1999
Note: This document may not reflect changes made in actual delivery.
Mr. Chairman, Members of the Subcommittee: I appreciate this opportunity to appear before the you today to discuss the FY 2000 budget request for the Drug Enforcement Administration. Before providing the committee with the details of this budget, on behalf of the men and women of the DEA, I would like to express our appreciation for the ongoing support of this Subcommittee and the U.S. House of Representatives. Without this support, the difficult job carried out by DEA agents and support staff around the world would be made even more arduous. In my testimony this morning, I will provide the subcommittee with information on how the resources provided to DEA last year have been used to improve the quality of life in American communities; how DEA sees the threat our nation is facing as a result of the operations of powerful, international drug trafficking organizations; and how DEA's FY 2000 budget request will help us further our goal of targeting and dismantling the major drug trafficking organizations which impact our nation. DEA's 1998 Accomplishments In Fiscal Year 1999, the Congress generously provided DEA with a budget of $1.3 billion and the resources to hire 617 additional personnel, including 297 Special Agents. This was the third year that DEA received significant increases in our budget, helping us to become even more effective in carrying out our important mission. DEA's strategy is to target and immobilize trafficking organizations that are operating: first, at the highest level of the drug trade from headquarters overseas; second, through those national drug trafficking and distribution networks responsible for bringing cocaine, heroin, methamphetamine and marijuana to American communities; and third, through the violent drug trafficking organizations that are selling drugs in cities and towns around the nation, and committing acts of violence in furtherance of their goals. With the resources Congress has provided us, DEA was able, in 1998, to seize more drugs and arrest more traffickers than ever before. We were effective in targeting and arresting traffickers operating overseas, in major U.S. cities, and in smaller communities targeted by drug trafficking organizations. DEA's overall arrests have increased steadily since 1994, with our 1998 arrest figures representing an increase of 11 percent over the previous year. Since 1995, DEA arrest totals have doubled. In 1998, 45% of DEA's arrests were for cocaine violations, and almost 21% were for methamphetamine violations. It is important to note that the percentage of DEA's methamphetamine arrests has doubled since 1995, keeping pace with the escalation of methamphetamine production, trafficking and abuse across the nation. Later in my testimony, I will provide further detail on the methamphetamine situation, which is critical in too many states and communities across the United States.
During 1998, DEA seizures also reached an all-time high. Methamphetamine seizures increased from 1,503.6 to 2,568.5 kilograms. Cocaine seizures rose from 58,262.8 kilograms in 1997 to 70,440.9 in 1998. DEA seized 624.6 kilograms of heroin in 1998, compared with 446.3 the previous year. Marijuana seizures rose from 359,843.9 kilograms in 1997 to 364,081.1 in 1998. These seizure totals reflect both DEA unilateral seizures, as well as those made in conjunction with our state and local law enforcement partners.
Reducing Violent Crime in American Communities
Through joint enforcement programs, such as our Mobile Enforcement Team (MET) program, carried out with our state and local law enforcement counterparts, DEA has made a significant contribution to lowering the national crime rate.
Over the course of the past several years, during which the national crime rate has dropped significantly in major urban areas such as New York, Los Angeles, Boston and Houston, the nexus between drugs and crime has become increasingly evident. Through programs such as the Arrestee Drug Abuse Monitoring Program (ADAM) which is administered by the National Institute of Justice (NIJ), the public has learned that 67% of the males arrested on various offenses were using drugs at the time they were arrested. We also know that, historically, homicide rates skyrocketed during the crack epidemic which began in the mid-1980's and peaked in 1992. During this time period, violent crime rates increased by 50% and murders increased by 31%.
DEA's METs are elite units that, in conjunction with our state and local law enforcement partners, target violent drug trafficking gangs throughout the United States. Since 1995, when the program was established, DEA has arrested over 8,000 individuals in the course of assisting over a hundred communities across America. In order to assess the impact of our Mobile Enforcement Team program, DEA conducted a study to determine whether the work of the METs resulted in decreased violent crime rates in the cities where deployments were carried out. The results of this study were impressive: 113 less homicides, 3,276 less robberies, and 2,419 fewer assaults took place in the six months after the deployments than in the six months before.
Statistics alone do not tell the whole story of how the METs have positively affected communities around the nation. The following are just a few examples of how violent drug traffickers have significantly diminished the quality of life in communities, terrorizing neighborhoods as they carry out their narcotics trafficking.
Benton Harbor, Michigan: Despite the fact that the violent crime rate in Michigan dropped in 1997, Benton Harbor, a city in the Southwestern part of the state, still had a significant crime problem. With a population of 13,500 and a crime rate of 16.5 per 100 residents, Benton Harbor was the most violent city in Michigan. A murder spree left 10 people dead in a twelve-day period. Individuals living in Benton Harbor described it as a Dodge City, where kids were afraid to play in the streets and elderly people couldn't walk their dogs. Residents routinely heard gunshots night after night. But after the intervention of law enforcement officers---from state, local and Federal agencies--Benton Harbor was being brought back to life. Beginning early in 1997, the Michigan State Police sent troopers into Benton Harbor to patrol the streets, train local law enforcement officers and enhance their ability to protect the community. They brought a sense of stability to the area which had become a haven for violent fugitives.
During the period between June and September 1998, DEA sent its Mobile Enforcement Team into Benton Harbor at the invitation of the law enforcement officials there. DEA's team pursued a violent drug trafficking organization directed by Yusef Phillips, whose organization was responsible for distributing multi-kilogram quantities of cocaine and crack in inner city housing projects in Benton Harbor. Eventually, 42 individuals were arrested and a quantity of drugs--including crack and heroin--and $31,000 were seized. After the MET team's investigation was complete, Public Safety Director Milton Agay estimated that the Yusef Phillips group was responsible for 90% of the violent crime that had impacted Benton Harbor.
Opa-Locka, Florida: On January 22, 1998, the DEA Miami Field Division MET concluded a deployment to Opa-Locka, Florida where the primary target was Rickey Brownlee, the head of a violent drug trafficking organization allegedly responsible for several drug-related murders and the distribution of significant amounts of cocaine and heroin in Opa-Locka. During the MET assessment, both police and community civic leaders described Brownlee's organization as extremely violent and known for its daily intimidation of the Opa-Locka citizenry. Through murders, shootings, aggravated assaults and extortion, Brownlee held the Opa-Locka community hostage. The DEA MET deployment culminated with the arrest of Brownlee and key members of his criminal organization. In a letter to the Attorney General of the United States, the Mayor of Opa-Locka thanked DEA for its dedication and expertise in dismantling one of South Florida's most notorious criminal enterprises. To further show their appreciation, the Mayor and the City Commission proclaimed March 19, 1998 as Drug Enforcement Administration/Mobile Enforcement Team Day.
Pueblo, Colorado: In recent years, the Pueblo Police Department recorded a dramatic increase in drug trafficking and drug-related violence attributed to a local cocaine trafficking organization headed by Martin Acosta-Hernandez. This organization, made up of several brothers, controlled cocaine trafficking in the Pueblo area with violence and intimidation as their signature. The organization had acquired sizeable drug profits and operated freely without concerning themselves with the efforts of local law enforcement. The members of the Acosta-Hernandez organization were also allegedly responsible for the murder of a local drug dealer.
At the invitation of local authorities, the Denver Field Division MET was deployed to Pueblo, Colorado on August 10, 1998. With the assistance of over 100 officers from various state, local and Federal agencies, the MET operation culminated on November 2, 1998, with 55 arrests, which included key members of the Acosta-Hernandez organization, bringing the total arrested during the deployment to 76. Assets seized included 41 vehicles, over $150,000 in U.S. currency, and real property valued in excess of $300,000.
Targeting International Drug Trafficking Organizations Impacting the United States: All of the cocaine and heroin, and most of the methamphetamine available in the United States is controlled by drug traffickers whose headquarters are located in Mexico, Colombia and in some Asian nations. These traffickers have a direct impact on the drug and crime situations that plague American communities across the country. As the drug trade grows more sophisticated and powerful every year, it is increasingly difficult for DEA and other law enforcement organizations to bifurcate strategies into domestic and international. The reality of today's drug trade is that despite the fact that the heads of the world's major drug trafficking syndicates are living overseas, their surrogates and employees are working on a daily basis in large U.S. cities and smaller communities, communicating the details of their operations to mafia leaders in Guadalajara and Cali.
It is critical for the DEA to develop and carry out strategies which allow us to effectively target the drug organization bosses, while we investigate and arrest their workers in the United States. The resources provided to DEA have allowed us to increase our presence in U.S. communities and overseas, in essence developing an enforcement model which mirrors the seamless continuum employed by the international drug trafficking organizations operating today. These resources include additional Special Agent positions to investigate major cocaine, heroin and methamphetamine trafficking organizations and additional resources provided to us through the emergency funding that was authorized by the Western Hemisphere Drug Elimination Act.
DEA has been able to enhance our presence in communities along the East Coast of the United States affected by drug trafficking organizations based in the Caribbean; along the Southwest border and in other communities adversely impacted by the increase in methamphetamine production and trafficking; and in locations suffering the effects of high purity, cheap heroin from Colombia and Mexico. Since 1996, DEA has increased overseas staffing in seven source countries---Colombia, Mexico, Bolivia, Peru, Thailand, Pakistan and Burma---allowing us to reach an 88% fill rate in overseas Special Agent jobs in these important countries. Resources for programs such as the Vetted Unit program, as well as the overall increase in personnel in these countries are critical because they enhance our ability to work with our law enforcement partners, coordinating investigations against high-level drug traffickers operating abroad and in the United States.
The majority of the international investigations that DEA has conducted traditionally begin with law enforcement information generated within the United States, for instance, as part of a seizure, a traffic stop or from a case investigated by state and local law enforcement. This information frequently leads investigators to higher levels of the drug trade, oftentimes to the leaders of the organizations who are headquartered in foreign countries.
During 1998, DEA's collaborative efforts with our international law enforcement partners resulted in the arrest of Alberto Orlandez-Gamboa "Caracol," the most powerful and ruthless of the Colombian North Coast traffickers, and the CNP's number one target, who was responsible for sending multi-ton loads of cocaine into the U.S. In August 1998, Fernando Florez-Garmendia, one of the remaining associates of the Rodriguez-Orejuela organization, was arrested. He was responsible for coordinating the cocaine trafficking operations of the jailed Cali mafia leaders.
Two major Mexico-based traffickers, who are under indictment in the United States, were arrested by Mexican authorities in 1998. Brothers Luis and Jesus Amezcua-Contreras are major methamphetamine traffickers and are responsible for running an organization which has supplied large amounts of methamphetamine to the U.S. The organization is also involved in cocaine and marijuana trafficking, and securing huge amounts of ephedrine, a necessary ingredient in methamphetamine production. These two traffickers remain in prison in Mexico, and are being held pending consideration of the U.S.'s extradition request.
During 1998, in numerous investigations within the United States, DEA worked with other Federal, state and local law enforcement partners to arrest members of the international drug trafficking syndicates' infrastructure who were operating on U.S. soil. In a series of cooperative investigations which linked trafficking organizations in Mexico, Colombia and the Dominican Republic to their operatives in New York, Los Angeles, Atlanta, and a variety of other U.S. locations, over 1,200 individuals were arrested; almost 13 tons of cocaine, two and a half tons of methamphetamine, 127 pounds of heroin, and almost $60 million in U.S. currency were seized.
Addressing Drug Problems on a Regional Basis: In FY 1999, Congress provided DEA with the resources to enable the agency to become more effective in addressing the drug threat on a regional basis. We were provided with the resources necessary to establish Regional Drug Enforcement Teams, receiving 32 Special Agent positions, 14 support positions and $13.0 million for this purpose. It is more and more apparent that drug trafficking organizations are supplying cocaine, methamphetamine and heroin to various regions around the nation, necessitating a regional response capability by DEA as we target the leaders of these organizations. In order to assist communities in the Midwest as they confront the growing problem of methamphetamine production and trafficking, DEA is establishing a regional team of 16 Special Agents based in Des Moines, Iowa. A second team of 16 Special Agents will be based in Charlotte, North Carolina, to provide additional law enforcement capabilities to communities targeted by international cocaine organizations. Both of these teams will have the flexibility to respond to drug trafficking problems which affect jurisdictions nationwide, and they will not be attached to specific DEA Division offices, operating instead under DEA headquarters supervision.
Improvements in Technology and Infrastructure: Additional resources have allowed DEA to improve our technological edge and address some critical infrastructure needs that support our investigations. With the growing sophistication of today's internationally-based and national drug trafficking organizations, law enforcement, including DEA, relies heavily on investigative tools such as Title III wiretaps to successfully investigate major drug trafficking organizations. DEA has also developed sophisticated methods to compile investigative information which ensures that all leads are properly followed and coordinated through our Special Operations Division (SOD). This mechanism allows all DEA field divisions and foreign offices to capitalize on investigative information from various sources as cases are being developed. Numerous major cases have been developed with the assistance of the SOD, which is increasingly a central player in cocaine, methamphetamine and heroin investigations.
Another tool that is critical to DEA's day-to-day business is our computer system. Over the years, DEA has received generous resources, including enhancements for our FIREBIRD system last year, which have allowed us to provide a state-of-the-art information system to our 8,000 employees. This system combines the tools that are necessary for daily communications (e-mail, word processing and office automation) with the special enforcement requirements of the agency. These requirements include an electronic file room, the Narcotics and Dangerous Drugs Information System (NADDIS) and other specific systems which allow agents, intelligence analysts and other DEA employees to access investigative reports, data bases and other information critical to conducting investigations against high-level drug traffickers.
By the close of FY 1998, Phase I implementation of the FIREBIRD system was complete, with total network access available throughout DEA Headquarters and in all 21 DEA Field Division offices. Additional resources provided to the agency in FY 1999 and 2000 will assist us in accelerating Phase II deployment of the Firebird network to all remaining district, resident and foreign field offices, as well as the El Paso Intelligence Center, DEA Airwing, and forensic laboratories. With the continued support of the President and the Congress, our hope is for the completion of the FIREBIRD project by the close of CY 2001.
The Justice Training Center, another major infrastructure project, will be completed later this spring. This long-held dream of the Drug Enforcement Administration would not have been possible without the support that Congress provided to us. It is a modern facility that enables DEA to provide training to Basic Agents, DEA employees and supervisors, law enforcement officers from around the nation, and our international law enforcement partners. For several years, both the DEA and FBI have been unable to meet all of our training needs because we lacked the space and flexibility needed to provide the best possible training to our employees and other law enforcement representatives. As agreed, the Justice Training Center will be used by both agencies, with DEA and the FBI working closely to ensure that both agencies' needs are met now and in the future.
DEA's forensic laboratories provided critical operational and analytical support to drug law enforcement at the Federal, state, local and international levels of operation. A number of DEA's laboratory facilities, which average 21 years length of service, no longer meet the agency's operational requirements and are severely overcrowded. Because of the poor environmental conditions found in these laboratories, DEA is being forced to operate at an unacceptably high risk and liability level. In an effort to rectify this situation, beginning in FY 1997, DEA was provided with the resources necessary to begin replacing a total of five of the agency's aging forensic laboratories. To date, we have begun the design and construction process for each of these laboratories, with actual completion of the facilities taking anywhere from three to five years, to include time for lease acquisition. Upon completion, we anticipate that the new laboratories will yield up to thirty-years of useful life.
The Drug Threat
Today's international criminal organizations pose a greater challenge to law enforcement than any previous criminal group in our history. While there are numerous characteristics that these international groups have in common with traditional organized crime -- their penchant for violence, their reliance on corruption and intimidation as tools of their business---their sheer power, influence and sophistication put them in a category by themselves.
As I stated before, the vast majority of the drugs available in the United States originate overseas. The international drug trade is controlled by a small number of high echelon drug lords, who reside in Colombia and Mexico. Most Americans are unaware of the vast damage that has been caused to their communities by international drug trafficking syndicates, most recently by organized crime groups headquartered in Mexico. At the current time, these traffickers pose the greatest threat to communities around the United States. Their impact is no longer limited to cities and towns along the Southwest Border; traffickers from Mexico are now routinely operating in the Midwest, the Southeast, the Northwest and increasingly, in the Northeastern portion of the United States. Because of the grave threat that these traffickers pose, my comments will focus predominantly on their influence on criminal activities and drug trafficking within our nation.
On any given day in the United States, business transactions are being arranged between the major drug lords headquartered in Mexico and their surrogates, who have established roots within the United States, for the shipment, storage and distribution of tons of cocaine and hundreds of pounds of methamphetamine and heroin to trafficking groups in the United States. In the past, Mexico-based criminal organizations limited their activities to the cultivation of marijuana and opium poppies for subsequent production of marijuana and heroin. The organizations were also relied upon by Colombian drug lords to transport loads of cocaine into the United States, and to pass this cocaine on to other organizations who distributed the product throughout the U.S. However, over the past seven years, Mexico-based organized crime syndicates have gained increasing control over many of the aspects of the cocaine, methamphetamine, heroin and marijuana trade, resulting in increased threats to the well-being of American citizens as well as government institutions and the citizens of their own country.
DEA arrests of Mexican nationals within the United States increased 65% between 1993 and 1997. Most of these arrests took place in cities that average Americans would not expect to be targeted by international drug syndicates in Mexico---cities such as Des Moines, Iowa; Greensboro, North Carolina; Yakima, Washington; and New Rochelle, New York.
The damage that these traffickers have caused to the United States is enormous. Cities and rural areas from the East Coast to the West are living with the havoc and erosion of stability that these individuals and organizations have caused. To understand how organized crime groups in Mexico have infiltrated communities here, it is helpful to examine their role in the distribution of cocaine, and in the production, trafficking and distribution of heroin, marijuana and methamphetamine.
Approximately two-thirds of the cocaine available in the United States comes over the U.S.-Mexico border. The remainder is shipped through the Caribbean and other secondary routes. Typically, large cocaine shipments are transported from Colombia, via commercial shipping and "go fast" boats, and off-loaded in Mexican port cities. The cocaine is transported through Mexico, usually by trucks, where it is warehoused in cities like Guadalajara or Juarez, for example, which are operating bases for the major organizations. Cocaine loads are then driven across the U.S.-Mexico border and taken to distribution centers within the U.S., such as Los Angeles, Chicago or Phoenix. Surrogates of the major drug lords wait for instructions, often provided over encrypted communications devices--phones, faxes, pagers or computers--telling them where to warehouse smaller loads, who to contact for transportation services, and where to return the eventual profits. Individuals sent to the United States from Mexico, often here illegally, contract with U.S. trucking establishments to transport loads across the country. Once the loads arrive in an area which is close to the eventual terminal point, safehouses are established for workers who watch over the cocaine shipments and arrange for it to be distributed by wholesale dealers within the vicinity. These distributors have traditionally been Colombian nationals or individuals from the Dominican Republic, but recently, DEA has evidence that Mexican nationals are becoming more directly involved in cocaine distribution throughout the United States.
Methamphetamine trafficking works in a similar fashion, with major organized crime groups in Mexico obtaining the precursor chemicals necessary for methamphetamine production from sources in other countries, such as China and India, as well as from "rogue" chemical suppliers in the United States. "Super labs," capable of producing hundreds of pounds of methamphetamine on a weekly basis, are established in Mexico and California, where the methamphetamine is provided to traffickers to distribute across the United States. It is now common to find hundreds of traffickers from Mexico, again, most of them illegal aliens, established in communities like Boise, Des Moines, Omaha, Charlotte and Kansas City, distributing multi-pound quantities of methamphetamine.
The impact of methamphetamine trafficking and abuse on numerous communities has been devastating. In Iowa, health experts have expressed grave concerns over the 4,000 infants affected by drugs, 90 percent of which were exposed to methamphetamine. An expert associated with Marshall County Iowa's Juvenile Court Services estimated in 1998, that one-third of the 1,600 students at Marshalltown High School had tried methamphetamine. Nationally, data indicated that in 1997, 17,200 individuals were admitted to emergency rooms for methamphetamine-related problems. By comparison, in 1991, only 4,900 emergency room mentions of methamphetamine were recorded.
The public safety is also affected by methamphetamine production. There have been numerous incidents where children have been injured or killed by explosions and fires resulting from their parents' methamphetamine cooking. In a significant DEA investigation, a working methamphetamine laboratory established by traffickers from Mexico was discovered in an equestrian center where children were taking riding lessons. In another case investigated by the DEA, an operational methamphetamine lab, capable of producing 180 pounds of methamphetamine, was discovered within a thousand feet of a junior high school.
Just a few weeks ago, the DEA office in Fresno, working with the California Bureau of Narcotics Enforcement, discovered working methamphetamine laboratories in Squaw Valley and Fresno. Six Mexican nationals were arrested, only one of whom was in the United States legally. Over 46 pounds of methamphetamine were seized, and we learned that the ultimate destination for the methamphetamine was Oregon, Washington and other states in the Midwest.
The heroin that is available in the United States is now coming predominantly from Colombia and Mexico. In recent years, heroin overdose deaths have increased significantly. Today's heroin mortality figures in the U.S. are the highest ever recorded, exceeding even those of the mid-1970's, when deaths reached a high point of just over 2,000. Close to 4,000 people have died in each of the last four years from heroin-related overdoses across the country.
Heroin from Colombia now represents 74 percent of the heroin seized in the United States. It is highly pure and cheap, and available in most of the cities along the East Coast, particularly New York, Boston and Philadelphia. Colombian heroin comes into the U.S. through small body carries and luggage.
Heroin from Mexico now represents 14 percent of the heroin supply seized in the United States, and it is estimated that organized crime figures in Mexico produced a total six metric tons of the drug last year. A current study being conducted by DEA indicates that as much as 29 percent of the heroin being used in the U.S. is being smuggled in by the Mexico-based organized crime syndicates. Mexican "black tar" heroin is produced in Mexico, and transported over the border in cars and trucks. Like cocaine and methamphetamine, it is trafficked by associates of the organized criminal groups in Mexico, and provided to dealers and users in the Southwest, Northwest and Midwest United States. At one time, it was commonplace for couriers to carry up to two pounds of heroin into the United States; recently, quantities of heroin seized from individuals have increased, as is evidenced by larger seizures in a number of towns in Texas. This heroin is extremely potent, and its use has resulted in a significant number of deaths, including the deaths of 25 individuals in Plano, Texas within the last 18 months.
Mexican "black tar" heroin is also common in the Pacific Northwest. Last January, officers from the California Highway Patrol, working near Sacramento, stopped a speeding car driven by a sixteen year old Mexican national. He and a passenger were from Michoacan, Mexico. A search of the car yielded six kilogram packages of Mexican "black tar" heroin intended for distribution in Yakima, Washington.
Seattle, Washington has suffered from a dramatic increase in heroin overdose deaths. According to health experts, heroin deaths increased in 1998 to a total of 138. This figure is triple the number of heroin deaths in Seattle during the 1980's. Experts also estimate that there are 20,000 heroin addicts in Seattle and the surrounding area. Traffickers from Mexico use the I-5 corridor to bring their product to the cities and suburbs of Washington State.
Future Threat and Direction
Over the course of the next several years, I believe it will be imperative for Federal law enforcement agencies to work collaboratively with state and local law enforcement in mid-size communities to help them address the problems of drugs, crime and violence. With a reduction in the crime rate in a number of our major U.S. cities, international drug trafficking organizations have begun to target smaller cities, rural areas and suburban communities, challenging law enforcement organizations that lack the resources and expertise to deal with the vast array of drug-related criminal activities.
In an effort to address this growing problem, on February 23, 1999, DEA hosted a symposium in Herndon, Virginia entitled "Crisis in Middle America: A National Conference on Drugs, Crime and Violence in Mid-Sized Cities." This conference brought together law enforcement officials from more than 80 middle sized cities around the country to discuss the impact that foreign-based drug trafficking organizations from Colombia and Mexico are having on our communities.
Responding to a survey sent to participants before the conference, law enforcement representatives were asked to report on the nature and severity of the drug problems they are currently facing. The most significant drug problems identified were cocaine and methamphetamine trafficking, use and abuse, with a number of cities reporting that heroin was their most serious drug problem. Roughly 68 percent of the law enforcement representatives surveyed reported that the drugs available on their streets were trafficked by drug trafficking organizations controlled by groups outside the United States; 48 percent of the respondents stated that their communities were being impacted by drug traffickers from Mexico; 80 percent indicated that they were experiencing moderate or high levels of violence in their communities; and finally, according to 76 percent of those surveyed, the drug problems their communities are facing have increased, and in many cases, increased significantly compared to the activity level of five years ago.
In response to the concerns voiced by the conference attendees and the clear threat posed to our country by the major international drug trafficking organizations, I am prepared to redouble DEA's efforts to assist smaller communities with programs such as our Mobile Enforcement Teams and Regional Enforcement Teams. These programs are geared to help state and local law enforcement organizations overcome their resource and manpower challenges as they attempt to address the violence and drug trafficking activities of organizations which often have foreign sources of supply. The Mid-Size Cities Conference was the first step in working 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 the best they can. By working to attack the drug problem from many angles, we can spare our nation's smaller cities and communities the drug-related nightmare that our major urban areas endured for well over a decade.
Advancing the Drug Enforcement Training Curriculum
Another way in which we work to meet the ongoing threat posed by the major trafficking organizations is to ensure that our employees and our law enforcement counterparts have the highest-quality training and best field preparation available today. In order to meet this goal, DEA conducted an extensive review of the training needs and practices of our basic and in- service training programs. This review resulted in a complete restructuring of DEA training programs, allowing the agency to: implement a structured plan to ensure that entry-level personnel receive on-the-job training after graduation from basic training; provide oversight and evaluation of employees during their probationary period; implement in-service training programs to ensure that all employees receive updated information on integrity, legal issues, internal regulations, and contemporary personnel issues; implement a program to identify the type or quantity of specialized training employees require; and provide additional programs to determine which employees should receive specialized training. These program changes will ensure that we safely meet the challenges of dealing with complex, violent and sophisticated drug trafficking organizations, both now and in the future.
In addition, the need for enhanced training facilities was also identified. I am proud to announce that in April of this year, through the generous assistance of the President and U.S. Congress, DEA will open the doors on a new, expanded training facility in Quantico, Virginia. This state-of-the-art facility features a 250-bed dormitory, a variety of classrooms, office space for the staff, and a cafeteria. Special facilities will include an international classroom with three-language translation capabilities and a separate building for conducting clandestine laboratory training for DEA and state and local officers involved in this special area of law enforcement.
Through our relationship with the University of Virginia, an enhanced program will also be underway to strengthen the faculty with a new instructor development program and a Master's degree program in adult education for the staff. We will invite instructors from state and local agencies to join the staff for one-to-two years to ensure that the staff reflects all drug law enforcement expertise and needs. In addition, the Drug Unit Commanders Academy will also be conducted at the new center and its graduates will be called upon to participate in annual risk management reviews for drug law enforcement. The new center will produce standardized lesson plans, with state and local input, for use throughout the drug law enforcement community. These plans would cover such areas as drug identification, informant management, raid planning for drug cases and clandestine laboratory training.
Finally, the new training center will be the venue for state-of-the-art drug intelligence-related courses for the law enforcement and intelligence communities. Several years of course development are envisioned. DEA has developed a concept that will provide drug intelligence training for Federal, state, local, and foreign agencies. The opening of the new training center at Quantico affords us the opportunity to forge a unique and innovative program dedicated to improving the quality of drug intelligence training programs in the United States. The curriculum will cover the full spectrum of drug intelligence-related subjects at the basic, intermediate, advanced, specialized, and Master of Science Degree levels. An Advisory Board, drawn from executives in Federal, state, and local government, and from academic institutions, will provide the guidance and support necessary to ensure the program reflects its customers' drug intelligence training needs.
Fiscal 2000 Budget Request
In FY 2000, DEA is requesting a total of 9,078 positions (4,535 Special Agents) and $1.469 billion. This request includes program enhancements of 52 positions and $23.1 million. The additional resources we are requesting for FY 2000 are broken into three strategic funding initiatives, including: Domestic Enforcement, Infrastructure and Drug Diversion Control.
Our Domestic Enforcement Initiative includes a total of 27 positions and $9.0 million to continue the development of key DEA SOD initiatives by providing the program with the assets necessary to enhance Title III support of priority drug investigations. DEA's SOD is a multi-agency program consisting of 170 DEA, FBI and U.S. Customs agents and support personnel. Operating at a classified level, SOD's mission is to provide criminal investigators with the capability to fully exploit Federal law enforcement's investigative authority under Title III of the U.S. Code.
Given the tremendous success of SOD's investigations and the resultant increase in demand for SOD support from Federal drug law enforcement, SOD's operational requirements are expanding rapidly. With the impact of the rapid technological advancements taking place within the telecommunications industry, DEA's base resources for this program are currently insufficient and must be significantly enhanced.
Through this initiative, DEA will establish a Telecommunications Section to organize and consolidate all technical activities related to Title III investigations; ensure that all of DEA's intercept equipment/technology and resources to conduct electronic surveillance are kept current with technological advancements; and support the growing security and administrative demands of DEA's burgeoning Title III Wire Intercept program.
DEA's Infrastructure Initiative, includes a total of $13.0 million dedicated to continuing Phase II deployment of the agency's FIREBIRD office automation system, therein providing critical support for the agency's drug enforcement operations. Funding for this system would work to provide integrated computer network resources to over 200 DEA district, resident and foreign offices, as well as the El Paso Intelligence Center, the DEA Air Wing, and agency's forensic laboratories.
In tandem with improving our ability to effectively target major drug violators, we have also taken measures to use technology to improve the way DEA does business. As part of our effort to maximize investigative resources and take advantage of current technological advances, DEA began deployment of the FIREBIRD computer network in FY 1995. This project, in its fourth year of deployment, is designed specifically to support our drug enforcement mission. FIREBIRD integrates computer capabilities used by modern businesses, e.g., E-mail, centralized word processing, and file sharing, with DEA investigative resource requirements, e.g., Electronic File Room, Electronic Library, and the Narcotics and Dangerous Drugs Information System (NADDIS). Once fully deployed, FIREBIRD will allow the agency's components located around the world, to act as one cohesive unit through real-time access to critical law enforcement and intelligence information.
As previously indicated, Phase I implementation, installation of network equipment in DEA Headquarters and 21 Division Offices, was completed in 1998. Phase II, installation to over 200 district, resident and foreign offices, has begun and, pending additional resources in the FY 2000 and 2001 budget requests, is projected to be completed by the close of CY 2001. Given the wide range of investigative and communication tools that FIREBIRD provides to DEA investigative personnel, as well as serious concerns over the continued dependability of the agency's Legacy communications equipment (which FIREBIRD replaces), DEA is requesting the funds necessary to accelerate FIREBIRD deployment. Any delay in the installation of this vital equipment clearly diminishes DEA's ability to fulfill its mission by denying field investigative staff with full connectivity and access to FIREBIRD tools and intelligence/information.
Finally, through our Drug Diversion Control Initiative, DEA is requesting an additional 25 positions and $1.1 million through the agency's Drug Diversion Control Fee Account (DDCFA). The requested resources will enable DEA to improve customer service by re-engineering current business processes, using state-of-the-market technology, and ultimately reducing the amount of time it takes to collect and transfer drug registrant information.
The requested resources will allow us to eliminate our current backlog in drug reviews, and complete scheduling actions more promptly with the hiring of additional Drug Science Specialists, Pharmacologists, and support staff. In addition, the resources provided will help us to be more responsive to requests for diversion information from field personnel (especially Diversion Investigators), the general public, Congress, other federal and state agencies, professional associations, and drug industry organizations.
The primary objectives our Diversion Control Initiative are threefold: to reduce formal inquiry response time for DDCFA registrants to under four days and reduce telephonic response time to just a few seconds; to eliminate the backlog of pending drug reviews and cases in the areas of domestic drug scheduling and production quotas; and to conduct targeting and analysis from new and existing sources of information to identify violations of the Controlled Substances Act in order to prepare viable and useful leads and trends for the field.
This concludes DEA's FY 2000 request for additional program resources. I would like, once again, to thank you, the members of the Subcommittee, for both your time and efforts on DEA's behalf and would be happy at this time, to take any questions you may have regarding our portion of the President's budget request.