MARCH 16, 2005
Mr. Chairman and Members of the Subcommittee:
Thank you for the opportunity to address this Subcommittee on the President’s FY 2006 Budget request for the Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA). First, I want to thank the Subcommittee for its unwavering support of DEA’s efforts to reduce the availability of illicit drugs in America. The Subcommittee has demonstrated its commitment to DEA’s mission in the FY 2005 enacted appropriation by providing 45 new Special Agent positions and $15.6 million in direct funding to support Priority Target investigations and improve DEA’s web infrastructure and information systems, as well as 237 positions and $31.6 million under the Diversion Control Fee Account (DCFA) to target the diversion and abuse of controlled substances, including OxyContin®. The Subcommittee also provided funding that will support an additional 51 Special Agent positions through the Organized Crime Drug Enforcement Task Force (OCDETF) program.
We also appreciate the Subcommittee providing additional budget flexibilities and authority to use $8.1 million in prior-year unobligated balances for the construction and ownership of a clandestine laboratory training facility. This facility will enable DEA to continue its vital work in training law enforcement personnel to effectively deal with the dangers associated with methamphetamine production and use. We also greatly appreciate the Subcommittee providing DEA with up to $75 million in no-year authority and allowing us to collapse the decision unit structure from 10 to 3, which will enhance our ability to meet ongoing operational needs. Your commitment is greatly appreciated by DEA’s men and women who courageously carry out our drug law enforcement mission every day in this country and overseas.
Drug abuse remains a serious problem in America. In 2003, an estimated 19.5 million Americans - over 8 percent of the population age 12 or older - were current illicit drug users. It is estimated that these users cost the U.S. economy over $180 billion annually – approximately $1,600 a year to every American family – in lost earnings, health care and social welfare costs, and the loss of goods and services to crime. In 2002, over 26,000 people died of drug-induced causes in the United States - 20 percent more than in 2001. As startling as these global statistics are, behind them lie countless broken families and wasted lives caused by drug abuse.
Drug trafficking also plays a role in financing international terrorism, as DEA investigations have shown a connection between drug activities and 18 of the 40 organizations (or 45 percent) on the Department of State’s list of designated foreign terrorist organizations.
To address this serious problem, the President’s National Drug Control Strategy announced in 2002 set two ambitious, performance-based goals: To reduce the use of illegal drugs by 10 percent over two years, and by 25 percent over five years. I am very pleased to report that we met and surpassed the first of these two goals: overall drug use by our youth decreased by 11 percent from 2001 to 2003. This was the first decline in drug use across all three grades surveyed (i.e., 8th, 10th, and 12th) in more than a decade. What’s more, illegal drug use continued to decline in 2004. From 2001 to 2004, current use of any illicit drug has declined 17 percent. While there is still much work to be done, this is a very encouraging trend.
DEA’s Recent Accomplishments
DEA’s role in the National Drug Strategy is to focus on disrupting the supply of illegal or diverted drugs through coordinated, national and international attacks on the entire infrastructure of the most significant drug trafficking and money laundering organizations responsible for supplying America’s illicit drug market.
We have had some remarkable achievements during the past year that I would like to summarize briefly for the Subcommittee. DEA’s strategic and innovative enforcement efforts have resulted in:
Because drugs fuel so much of our nation’s crime, there can be little doubt that these successes have contributed to this nation’s record 30-year low crime rate.
As the world's leading drug enforcement agency and the only federal agency dedicated exclusively to drug law enforcement, DEA is combating the world’s drug trafficking organizations at every juncture—from cultivation and production of drugs, through the transit zones, to final distribution in America's communities, and the laundering of the proceeds of that distribution.
In the last two years, the strategic attack mounted by DEA against drug networks has resulted in the denial of profit and proceeds from drug sales, the disruption or dismantlement of 1,359 Priority Target Organizations, the removal of illicit narcotics from the available drug supply, a safe and secure pharmaceutical supply for Americans, and an awareness of the dangers of drug abuse and addiction.
Sixty-five billion dollars change hands for drugs each year in the United States. Drug trafficking organizations are big businesses. If the drug trade was a Fortune 500 company, it would rank 13th among our biggest businesses by revenue. To take the money out of the traffickers’ hands, DEA has reenergized its attack on the financial infrastructure of drug cartels in order to permanently dismantle these trafficking organizations. We have set ambitious goals and we are achieving them.
DEA has achieved new records in seizing illicit drug proceeds and related assets. During this past year, DEA’s asset and currency seizures were $613 million - a 33 percent increase over the $461 million seized in FY 2003. DEA’s FY 2004 asset seizures include an approximate 15 percent increase in bulk cash seizures and a more than 400 percent increase in financial instruments. Between FY 2003 and FY 2004, the average value of seizures increased 26 percent overall, with seizures valued more than $1 million increasing by 55 percent.
DEA also has established a five-year plan with annual milestones through FY 2009 to meet the challenge of crippling drug cartels so that they cannot reconstitute their operations with new leadership. To accomplish this we must dramatically raise the volume of drug seizures and take $3 billion of drug profit away from all drug trafficking organizations each year. To that end, DEA has developed new domestic and international seizure strategies. Domestically, all DEA drug investigations must include a financial component, and each DEA field division now focuses on identifying and seizing drug proceeds using intelligence information, technology, and agent resources to take the profit out of drug trafficking. Internationally, DEA has developed a trilateral financial investigation initiative with Mexico, Panama and Colombia. DEA will establish a Money Laundering Investigative Group in the Bogotá Country Office in FY 2005, with existing resources, and increase its agent commitment to money laundering investigations in Mexico. DEA’s Bangkok Country Office has established a money laundering investigative group as well. DEA also has developed strategies to assure that money laundering investigations against the Black Market Peso Exchange inflict lasting damage against the Colombian sources of drug supply.
One of the most serious drug threats facing our nation today is the spread of methamphetamine production and use, and DEA is combating it on every front, both domestically and internationally, with enforcement, training and clean up assistance.
DEA, in coordination with other Federal agencies, is exploring various steps to further control methamphetamine production. These steps include working with Congress to make it more difficult for criminals to acquire enough of the precursor to produce meaningful amounts of methamphetamine. In addition, DEA supports the removal of a loophole in current law that allows larger purchases of pseudoephedrine in blister packs. Although the exemption was initially implemented on the expectation that methamphetamine manufacturers would not undergo the difficult process of removing small amounts of pseudoephedrine from a large number of blister packs, the emptied blister packs are found at methamphetamine lab sites in increasing numbers, making it obvious that they are, in fact, being used in methamphetamine production.
DEA is working with global partners to target international methamphetamine traffickers and to increase chemical control efforts abroad. DEA has worked hand in hand with its law enforcement counterparts in Canada, Hong Kong and Mexico, and regulatory authorities to identify and investigate attempts to divert pseudoephedrine. These investigations led to the seizure of over 4 metric tons of psedoephedrine destined for illicit methamphetamine production and prevented the manufacture of nearly 2.5 metric tons of methamphetamine. Recently, Hong Kong took further steps to ensure that pseudoephedrine from Hong Kong will not be diverted to traffickers in Mexico.
The National Synthetic Drugs Action Plan outlines additional steps, which DEA will seek to implement with assistance from Congress, to curb the manufacture of methamphetamine. Those steps include: working with industry to estimate the legitimate need for methamphetamine precursor chemicals, strengthening collaboration with Mexico on chemical controls, and developing the best practices to assist drug endangered children at lab sites.
DEA focuses its overall enforcement operations on the large regional, national and international drug trafficking organizations responsible for the majority of the drug supply in the United States. Significant increases in these Priority Target Organization (PTO) case initiations and investigative work hours dedicated against PTOs have resulted in numerous other significant disruptions of the drug trade, including the arrests of key figures in the notorious Arellano Felix Organization (AFO) in Mexico. The Tijuana-based AFO is one of the most powerful and violent trafficking groups in Mexico, responsible for over 100 drug-related murders in the United States and Mexico. In FY 2004, DEA disrupted or dismantled 706 domestic and foreign PTOs, of which 160 were linked to Consolidated Priority Organization Targets (CPOTs) —the most wanted criminals in the international drug trade. DEA’s FY 2004 disruptions and dismantlements represent a 54 percent increase over the 458 PTOs disrupted or dismantled in FY 2003. Furthermore, between FY 2001 and the first quarter of FY 2005 (December 31, 2004), DEA disrupted or dismantled 1,831 domestic and foreign PTOs, of which 293 were linked to CPOT organizations.
DEA’s successes in disrupting and dismantling CPOT organizations are primarily accomplished through multi-agency investigations mostly directed by DEA. DEA has aggressively and successfully indicted and brought to justice numerous CPOT targets in recent years. Of the 42 CPOT targets identified in FY 2005, 34 (81 percent) have been successfully indicted and 14 (33 percent) have been arrested.
The most significant international drug trafficking and money laundering organizations, including those identified as CPOTs, must be pursued across their entire structure at once. The cornerstone of this type of effort must be shared information and analysis. The OCDETF Fusion Center will gather, store, and analyze all-source drug and related financial investigative information to support coordinated, multi-jurisdictional investigations focused on the disruption and dismantlement of the most significant drug trafficking and money laundering enterprises. DEA has played a significant role in planning and directing the initial start-up of the OCDETF Fusion Center. By dedicating the leadership and an entire support structure for budget, contracts, facilities, planning, and development, DEA has assisted in moving the OCDETF Fusion Center from the conceptual stage to core system development.
DEA is also targeting traffickers who use the internet.
To ensure that the most wanted drug traffickers are brought to justice, DEA has developed a fugitive apprehension program with the U.S. Marshals Service and the Federal Bureau of Investigation to pursue, locate, apprehend, and extradite the CPOTs and their first and second tier associates. Operation United Eagles is a successful collaboration by law enforcement agencies of the United States and Mexico to bring CPOT-linked, Kingpin designates, and Office of Foreign Asset Control fugitives to justice. As part of Operation United Eagles, in 2004 U.S.-trained Mexican Federal Agents arrested 8 individuals, including the CPOT AFO’s top five lieutenants.
For the first time in history, DEA also is investigating, indicting, arresting, extraditing, and prosecuting known terrorist members to face drug trafficking charges in the United States. DEA joint operations with the Colombian National Police and prosecutors’ offices resulted in the 2004 indictments of nine leaders of the North Valley Cartel—one of the most powerful cocaine-trafficking organizations who lead a confederation of Colombian drug traffickers potentially responsible for a third to a half of the cocaine brought into the United States. Since 1990, the Cartel has sent more than 1.2 million pounds of cocaine to the United States via Mexico, with a street value in excess of $10 billion.
The North Valley Cartel also has long-standing ties with the paramilitary terrorist organization, the United Self-Defense Groups of Colombia (AUC). The dismantlement of the Cartel will limit the flow of blood money to the AUC. To date, four of the North Valley leaders have been arrested. Likewise, we have indicted numerous members of the Colombian terrorist organization known as the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (FARC).
Significant progress also has been made in reducing the potential drug supply in Colombia. Through the combined efforts of DEA, Colombians, and State Department led eradication, the entire South American coca harvest is at its lowest level in nearly 20 years. The cultivation of coca has been slashed by 21 percent in Colombia and 15 percent in Peru.
To stem the increasing flow of heroin and chemicals from Southwest Asia, DEA has implemented a collaborative international strategy – “Operation Containment” – to work with our foreign counterparts in attacking drug trafficking organizations in the Central Asian source zone. Operation Containment includes 19 countries from Central Asia, the Caucuses, Europe, and Russia working side by side for the first time to choke off the flow of drugs and precursor chemicals into and out of Afghanistan before they can spread to broader markets. Although the percentage of Afghanistan’s heroin production currently trafficked in the United States is substantially less than the heroin from Colombia, this was not always the case. Twenty years ago, Afghanistan supplied the majority of the heroin in the U.S., and DEA is taking action to ensure that it does not do so again. One recent DEA case illustrates this point.
Operation Containment increased seizures from 407 kilograms of heroin in 2002 to 14,932 kilograms of heroin in 2004 – 37 times the amount seized in 2002 prior to the commencement of Operation Containment. In addition, during FY 2004, Operation Containment resulted in the seizure of 7.7 metric tons of morphine base, 5.9 metric tons of opium gum, approximately 3.27 metric tons of precursor chemicals, 77 metric tons of cannabis, 498 arrests, the seizure of 11 heroin labs, and the dismantlement or disruption of major distribution and transportation organizations involved in the Southwest Asian heroin trade. During the first quarter of FY 2005, Operation Containment has resulted in record seizures: 2.4 metric tons of heroin (204 percent more than was seized during the same period in 2004), 0.985 metric tons of morphine base (504 percent more than 2004), and 3 metric tons of opium gum (150 percent more than 2004).
DEA has made great strides in developing an internal Afghan drug law enforcement capability to complement the successes in surrounding countries. The Counter Narcotics Police-Afghanistan, National Interdiction Unit (NIU) has been established to interdict drugs, chemicals, and currency within Afghanistan. By April 2005, 100 NIU officers will be trained and deployed with DEA agents to conduct bilateral drug law enforcement operations throughout Afghanistan.
The Challenge Ahead
Although we have achieved success on many fronts, we still face many challenges. The anti-drug mission is essential to the national security, health, and very freedom of our country. When our young people are enslaved by drugs, when citizens are imprisoned in their own neighborhoods from fear of drug crime, or when children are neglected and abused by their methamphetamine-cooking parents, citizens are denied the basic liberties and promise of this nation. Indeed, drugs take a toll on every American: from drugged driving accidents, to increased child welfare and health care costs, drug-induced crime, and environmental and public safety hazards. Each year Americans die from illegal drugs at an alarming rate. Left unchecked, these powerful transnational drug trafficking organizations have the potential to corrupt and undermine government institutions, diminish respect for the rule of law, and threaten regional stability around the globe.
According to the 2003 National Survey on Drug Use and Health, the most common illicit drugs used by current users over the age of 12 were marijuana (14.6 million users, or 6.2 percent of the population), non-medical use of prescription drugs (6.3 million users, or 2.7 percent of the population), cocaine (2.3 million users, or 1 percent of the population), hallucinogens (1 million users, or 0.4 percent of the population), methamphetamine (607,000 users, or 0.3 percent of the population) and heroin (119,000 users, or 0.1 percent of the population).
The marijuana of today is not the marijuana of the baby boomers 30 years ago. Average THC levels rose from less than 1 percent in the mid-1970s to more than 8 percent in 2004, leading to increased dependence and abuse. In 2002, 64 percent of adolescent treatment admissions reported marijuana as their primary substance of abuse, compared to 23 percent in 1992.
Thousands of children are placed at risk by methamphetamine production, both by the harmful byproducts generated during manufacture and by abandonment and neglect from addicted parents. In one case, parents nailed a plywood sheet over a baby’s crib to make sure the baby did not escape while they were on a methamphetamine binge. Crimes of violence, such as murder and robbery, to support methamphetamine addiction are common.
The rapid spread of methamphetamine throughout the United States is due in part to the proliferation of small clandestine laboratories known as “small toxic laboratories (STLs) that are generally unaffiliated with major drug trafficking organizations. These STLs are found in rural areas, tribal and federal lands, big cities, and suburbs. Indeed, from 2002 through 2004, more than 49,000 STLs were discovered and seized. Although the amount of methamphetamine actually produced by these STLs is relatively small, the adverse impact they have on local communities is enormous. The chemicals used to produce methamphetamine are toxic and flammable, creating environmental and health hazards and placing extraordinary strains on the federal, state, and local agencies responsible for STL clean up. Harmful wastes and byproducts are often dumped into rivers or disposed of along roadsides and homes. In 2004, the National Jewish Medical and Research Center and DEA chemists concluded a study which found that methamphetamine labs produce a toxic cloud of dangerous chemicals that permeates all horizontal and vertical surfaces of the cook site and spreads to separate, adjacent areas, such as neighboring motel rooms and hallways. This residue remains long after the actual cook is completed.
The proliferation of these STLs is facilitated by the ready availability of pseudoephedrine, the key ingredient in methamphetamine. The manufacturing process is simple and inexpensive, accomplished with supplies available in hardware and convenience stores and methamphetamine lab chemists willingly share their recipes and techniques over the Internet.
of prescription drugs
Oxycodone, particularly in the controlled release form of OxyContin, is a growing drug problem throughout the nation. Although the rate of non-medical use of oxycodone is still considered relatively low compared to illicit drugs of abuse on a national basis, it is a serious problem in many communities, particularly rural locales with limited public health and law enforcement resources. Drug Abuse Warning Network (DAWN) statistics for emergency room drug episodes involving prescription drugs containing oxycodone increased 22 percent from 18,409 mentions in 2001 to 22,397 mentions in 2002. This 2002 figure also represents a 107 percent increase over the 10,825 emergency room mentions in 2000 and a 450 percent increase over the roughly 4,000 mentions in 1994. Monitoring the Future data show no change in OxyContin use, from 2003 to 2004, among 8th graders, a 3 percent decrease in use among 10th graders but an 11 percent increase in use among 12th graders.
Most significantly, U.S. heroin/morphine abuse is claiming the lives of between 4,000 and 10,000 Americans each year. This death toll is simply not acceptable, and the number must be reduced through an enhanced combination of heroin abuse prevention and treatment, and domestic and international law enforcement that is focused explicitly on the U.S. heroin threat. Estimates of worldwide heroin production increased by 215 percent between 2001 and 2003 primarily due to increases in Afghanistan. The U.S. is not only faced with the threat of heroin imported from Colombia and Mexico but also, as evidenced by the recent indictments in New York, heroin from Afghanistan.
The President’s FY 2006 Budget Request for DEA
The President’s FY 2006 Budget requests $1.9 billion and 9,393 positions (including 4,152 Special Agents) for DEA. Of this amount, $1.7 billion and 8,266 positions (including 4,082 Special Agents) are requested under the Salaries and Expenses (S&E) Account, and $199 million and 1,127 positions (including 70 Special Agents) under the Diversion Control Fee Account (DCFA). This request is an increase of 6 percent, or $107 million, and 2 positions over the FY 2005 enacted appropriation, and includes a net decrease of 68 Special Agents. DEA’s FY 2006 Budget request includes five programmatic enhancements (three under the S&E Account and two under DCFA) offset by six program reductions in the S&E Account.
Salaries and Expenses Account
For FY 2006, DEA is requesting $72.9 million and 122 positions (including 76 Special Agents and 25 Intelligence Analysts) for the following S&E program enhancements:
Diversion Control Fee Account
For FY 2006, DEA is requesting $32.6 million and 97 positions (including 52 Special Agents and 40 Intelligence Analysts) for the following DCFA program enhancements:
The following S&E programmatic offsets, totaling -$61.2 million and -211 positions (including -183 Special Agents), are also included in the President’s FY 2006 Budget request for DEA:
Mr. Chairman and members of the Subcommittee, I hope this brief summary conveys both the serious nature of the drug problem facing our nation and the meaningful progress we are making in addressing it. The dedicated men and women of the DEA appreciate your support and that of every member of this Subcommittee. This concludes my prepared remarks. I will be happy to answer any questions you may have at this time.