Excerpt from DEA Administrator Karen P. Tandy’s remarks at the Southeast Law Enforcement Conference in Gatlinburg, Tennessee on May 3, 2005.  

Good morning. It’s great to be with you. It’s tough to follow that kind of an opening where we are reminded about the great talent that we’ve lost among our ranks, whether it’s local officers, whether it’s sheriffs, whether it’s state police, or federal officers. It is an opening like that that reminds us of what we’re here for: redoubling our efforts to bring honor to what they died for in the course of their duties.

I was pleased to see that Ronald Reagan was honored as well -- because it was Ronald Reagan who once said that, “The fight against drugs is a war of individual battles, a crusade with many heroes.” And certainly you as agents and officers and prosecutors in this room count yourselves for very good reason among those many great heroes leading the crusade.

As you heard, I cut my teeth on drug task force cases starting in 1979. And the saying that was true in 1979 is still true today. And that is, the very best work of the Drug Enforcement Administration is never alone. The very best work that our agency is the proudest of is the work done with all of our partners, all of you in this room, with state, with local, and with federal law enforcement. These are not just words to me.

The press – I don’t know if there is press here today – but the press is something that I often shake my head over. It doesn’t matter how wonderful we are – good news doesn’t sell. If it did sell, these are the kinds of things that you would be hearing constantly, and that is: how the extraordinary efforts by you in this room have had dramatic impact on drug use in this country and certainly on drug availability.

And I just want to tick off some of these accomplishments, because you won’t read about it in the press. One of those is, together, going after the cartels in Colombia because there’s not one of us in this room at a local level that has a cocaine case that didn’t start in Colombia. So taking out those international organizations that were responsible for moving that coke into your local area is a key part of our success.

We indicted the North Valley Cartel – and when I say “we,” it’s the collective “we.” They were indicted, and they were responsible for one third to a half of all the cocaine consumed in this country. This is one cartel. And it’s not just about the indictments, because if we don’t arrest them, if we don’t get them back here to face an American jury and the U.S. justice system, then we haven’t carried the ball into the end zone. And for those members of the cartel, already four of them have actually been arrested. The rest are being hunted down.

We are up by about two-thirds collectively in this room going after priority organizations and disrupting and dismantling them. Up by two-thirds, and in the past year, we took out 366 organizations. That is staggering.

The Caribbean transit organizations who were moving cocaine into the United States at a record amount – about 10 to 12 percent of the coke coming into this country –were decimated by investigations and prosecutions that took place over this past year.

LSD availability has been decimated. The use of LSD among our teenagers is at the basement level. It is down more than 60% , and seizures have decreased 99.9%. And the reason for that, if you look at the surveys like “Monitoring the Future” that track what causes kids to start using drugs and what causes them to stop, LSD availability and use dropped because of law enforcement.

You won’t read about that. What you’ll read is that we’ve have a failed drug war.

You also won’t read about the eradication of cocaine fields in South America that have been decimated as well to the lowest level in nearly 20 years. In fact, you’ll never hear that the number of cocaine users in the United States has dropped over the past 15 years by some 70%. There are 4.1 million fewer cocaine users today than there were 15 years ago.

I don’t need to tell you about the methamphetamine super labs --and we’re going to talk about that -- we have such a long way to go. But just looking at the number of super labs in this country – and I know the Southeast, particularly in parts of Georgia – are now seeing the movement of super labs into their area. But overall in this country, the seizures of super labs are down more than 70%, not because we’re not working, not because we’re out there looking at something else. The seizures are down because the number of super labs are decreasing as a result once again of your enforcement efforts denying chemicals to those people running super labs.

Ecstasy use is down 61% just over the last two years in this country among our youth. Down 61%. And part of that was a result of enforcement. You won’t hear that we took out the principal Canadian and US trafficking organizations that were responsible for supplying 15% of the Ecstasy used in the United States. One organization – responsible for 15% of all the Ecstasy consumed in the United States – was taken out and prosecuted.

We have, together in this room, indicted more than 80% of the most wanted drug organizations in this country, and they’re not just residing in this country. Think about that – indicting 80%. Think about putting a list together of the worst of the worst organizations no matter where they are, and in this case, they are international command and control with cell heads operating here in the US – 80% of them indicted. It is mind boggling to think about that.


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