The Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) is charged with the enforcement of the Controlled Substances Act as well as investigation of the highest level of domestic and international narcotics traffickers. Established in 1973, this anti-drug agency combined the Bureau of Narcotics and Dangerous Drugs (BNDD) and Customs’ drug agents to provide exclusive enforcement of federal drug laws. With the direct cooperation of our state and local partners, the creation of the Task Force Program is one of the most productive ways that DEA enforces these laws.
HISTORY OF THE PROGRAM
This cooperative effort between the DEA and local law enforcement agencies actually began in 1970, before the establishment of the DEA, with a pilot task force created in New York City by the former BNDD. The first task force was comprised of investigators from major state and local regional agencies, primarily the New York City Police Department and the New York State, along with BNDD personnel. Due to the complexity of drug problems in the region and the varied levels of drug trafficking, the New York City metropolitan area was ideal for federal, state, and local initiatives.
WHY TASK FORCES?
As drug trafficking increased nationwide, DEA recognized the need for cooperation and coordination of drug enforcement efforts with their state and local counterparts. This cooperation provided several advantages to all participating agencies: DEA was able to draw on the expertise of state of local law enforcement; DEA could share resources with state and local officers, thereby increasing the investigative possibilities available to all; state and local officers could be deputized as federal drug agents, thus extending their jurisdiction; state and local participating agencies could receive an equitable share of forfeited drug proceeds; and DEA could pay overtime and investigative expenses for the state and local agencies.
TASK FORCES TODAY
In 2016, the DEA State and Local Task Force Program managed 271 state and local task forces, which included Program Funded, Provisional, HIDTA, and Tactical Diversion Squads. The difference between funded and provisional state and local task forces is that the financial support for funded task forces is provided by DEA headquarters and includes additional resources for state and local overtime. Provisional task forces are supported by the operating budgets of DEA field division offices, without resources from DEA headquarters, and do not included state and local overtime. These task forces are staffed by over 2,200 DEA special agents and over 2,500 state and local officers. Participating state and local task force officers are deputized to perform the same functions as DEA special agents.