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Since its establishment in 1973, the DEA, in coordination with other federal, state, local, and foreign law enforcement organizations has been responsible for the collection, analysis, and dissemination of drug-related intelligence. The role of intelligence in drug law enforcement is critical. The DEA Intelligence Program helps initiate new investigations of major drug organizations, strengthens ongoing ones and subsequent prosecutions, develops information that leads to seizures and arrests, and provides policy makers with drug trend information upon which programmatic decisions can be based. The specific functions of the DEA's intelligence mission are:

  • Collect and produce intelligence in support of the Administrator and other federal, state, and local agencies;
  • Establish and maintain close working relationships with all agencies that produce or use narcotics intelligence;
  • Increase the efficiency in the reporting, analysis, storage, retrieval, and exchange of such information; and, undertake a continuing review of the narcotics intelligence effort to identify and correct deficiencies.

The DEA's Intelligence Program has grown significantly since its inception. From only a handful of Intelligence Analysts (I/A) in the domestic offices and Headquarters in 1973, the total number of I/As worldwide is now over 680. DEA's Intelligence Program consists of several entities that are staffed by both I/As and Special Agents: Intelligence Groups/Functions in the domestic field divisions, district, resident and foreign offices, the El Paso Intelligence Center, and the Intelligence Division at DEA Headquarters. Program responsibility for the DEA's intelligence mission rests with the DEA Assistant Administrator for Intelligence.

The DEA divides drug intelligence into three broad categories: tactical, investigative, and strategic.

  • Tactical intelligence is evaluated information on which immediate enforcement action--arrests, seizures, and interdictions--can be based.
  • Investigative intelligence provides analytical support to investigations and prosecutions to dismantle criminal organizations and gain resources.
  • Strategic intelligence focuses on the current picture of drug trafficking from cultivation to distribution that can be used for management decision making, resource deployment, and policy planning.

Legislation and Presidential directives and orders have expanded the role of the Intelligence Community and the Department of Defense in the anti-drug effort. DEA interaction with both components occurs on a daily basis in the foreign field and at headquarters. At the strategic intelligence level, the Intelligence Division participates in a wide range of interagency assessment and targeting groups that incorporate drug intelligence from the anti-drug community in order to provide policy-makers with all source drug trend and trafficking reporting.

With analytical support from the Intelligence Program, DEA has disrupted major trafficking organizations or put them entirely out of business. The DEA Intelligence Division also cooperates a great deal with state and local law enforcement and will soon provide intelligence training for state, local, federal, and foreign agencies. This training will be held at the Justice Training Center in Quantico, Virginia, and will address the full spectrum of drug intelligence training needs. The best practices and theories of all partners in working the drug issue will be solicited and incorporated into the training. Academic programs, the exchange of federal, state, and local drug experience, and the sharing of and exposure to new ideas will result in more effective application of drugs intelligence resources at all levels.

The El Paso Intelligence Center (EPIC) is an all threats center with a focus on the Western Hemisphere, and a particular emphasis on the Southwest border, that leverages the authorities and expertise of its partners to deliver informed intelligence. 

EPIC has grown from an environment consisting of three law enforcement (LE) agencies to what is now, a center comprised of over 20 agencies who share a common quest: identify threats to the Nation, with an emphasis on the Southwest border.  EPIC offers tactical, operational and strategic intelligence support to Federal, State, local, tribal, and international law enforcement organizations.  The center provides access to LE systems with the opportunity to collaborate daily through exchanges with LE analysts and operators, as well as routine engagement with our Federal, State, local, tribal, and international partners.  The key to EPIC’s success is a culture that transcends parochialism.  EPIC is a team approach.  Collectively, we deter threats and protect our nation. 

El Paso Intelligence Center
El Paso Intelligence Center

For many years, state, local, and Federal law enforcement entities sought a drug pointer system that would allow them to determine if other law enforcement organizations were investigating the same drug target. The DEA was designated by the Office of National Drug Control Policy (ONDCP) in 1992 to take the lead in developing such a system to assist federal, state, and local law enforcement agencies investigating drug trafficking organizations (DTOs) and to enhance officer safety by preventing duplicate investigations. Recognizing that the development of this system would require a truly cooperative effort, the DEA drew from the experience of state and local agencies to make certain that not only were their concerns addressed, but that they had unrestricted input and involvement in the pointer systems’ development. Representatives from 19 states and 24 law enforcement organizations formed a Project Steering Committee and six working groups that developed the conceptual blueprint for the National Drug Pointer Index (NDPIX).

NDPIX became operational across the United States in October 1997. The National Law Enforcement Telecommunications System (NLETS)—a familiar, fast, and effective network that reaches into almost every police entity in the United States—is the backbone for the NDPIX. Participating agencies are required to submit active case targeting information to NDPIX in order to receive pointer information from the NDPIX. The greater the number of data elements entered, the greater the likelihood of identifying possible matches. Designed to be a true pointer system rather than an intelligence system, NDPIX serves as a "switchboard" that provides a vehicle for timely notification of common investigative targets. The actual case information is shared only when collaborative contact is made between the officers/agents who have been linked by their common NDPIX target.

The web version of NDPIX (WebNDPIX) became fully operational in September 2008 with these features:

  • NDPIX will remain unchanged for non-DEA participants and remains a viable NVPS participant system option for other federal, state, local, and tribal LEAs.
  • WebNDPIX modifies the methodology of data input; message trafficking; transmission of collaboration documentation; and management/regulatory oversight for DEA NDPIX users.
  • Automatically adds new records to NDPIX (w/connectivity to NVPS) from CAST and NADDIS (202)
  • Allows for the exclusion of targets at the discretion of field management
  • Transmits new records, hits, partial and pending records, pending purges, records deletions and extensions, directly to field investigative and supervisory personnel
  • Enables investigators and field supervisory personnel document collaboration based on hits directly from a Firebird email hyperlink in the WebNDPIX log

Law enforcement and emergency response personnel face challenges daily when responding to public safety incidents. Rapid and informed decisions are critical to preserving life and property. NLETS recognizes the importance of getting information to the right people as quickly as possible. NLETS is an action-oriented organization that offers states progressive solutions to meeting their information and communication needs.

NDPIX Mission Statement

  • NDPIX provides participating State, Local, and Federal Law Enforcement Agencies with an automated response capability to determine if a current drug investigative target is under active investigation by any other participating agency.

DEA’s Role

  • Responsible for the administrative, security, and program management oversight of the National Drug Pointer Index, an information sharing system for Federal, state, and local law enforcement agencies on active drug investigative targets.
National Drug Pointer Index
National Drug Pointer Index
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