AMU Editor's Pick Homeland Security Opinion

DEA Scandal: Administrator to Step Down

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By Brett Daniel Shehadey
Special Correspondent for In Homeland Security

Heads are rolling at the Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA). The latest is its administrator, Michele Leonhart.

The DEA is under investigative review in Congress for severe misconduct. From 2001-2005, seven agents were allegedly involved with Colombian sex parties, where the prostitutes were funded by drug lords. None of the agents were let go, and there was a lack of disciplinary actions or charges.

One informant described another informant’s role in setting a criminal operation that involved prostitutes employed by the drug lords and whose objective was to soften up agents and solicit information.DEA scandals

According to Reuters, an internal DEA report offered by the Oversight Committee, mentioned that agents had compromised sensitive information. This was ongoing for several years and it was “common for prostitutes to be present at business meetings involving cartel members and foreign officers,” according to a DEA Supervisor.

“It is incredibly concerning that, according to the DEA itself, there is a clear possibility that information was compromised as a result of these sex parties,” Representative Elijah Cummings, the committee’s top Democrat, told Reuters.

When did it really start? How can the American people be sure that this type of conduct really stopped? Was this a criminal operation intended to trap agents and then release the tape to tarnish DEA? Was this a habitual dereliction of duty and morality that drug cartels took advantage of after the fact?

The White House has informed the public of DEA Administrator Michele Leonhart’s decision to step down in mid-May after 35 years of service and the mishandling of the Colombian affair. She was a fierce opponent of the administration’s legalization of marijuana efforts, saying in 2012 that “all illegal drugs are bad.”

This grueling scandal comes at a time when the public’s trust in the DEA’s mission is waning and the ambiguity of an agency’s future that enforces American drug laws and drug policy is also in conflict with the trends or previous mission strategy.

Attorney General Eric Holder said Federal Prosecutors would no longer charge marijuana cases. At the same time, it is the DEA’s job to continue enforcing the law; the use of marijuana is still a violation of federal law. Moreover, the DEA also faces a battle with individual states, as their drug laws become more relaxed. Lastly, the American sentiments on the War on Drugs have changed deeply while the DEA’s mission remains the same: To fight drug dealers and stop drug trafficking where it can—and that includes all illicit drugs. However, many Americans now feel that the only way to stop drug trafficking and drug related violence is to fight it politically and through better policy—especially through legalization, regulation, decrease in demand within the U.S. and so forth. The biggest problem becomes the high demand in the U.S. and the dependency of foreign local economies on high value narcotics exports.

The DEA continues to undergo review by the Justice Department’s Inspector General and several House committees, including Oversight and Judiciary. It is one of many on the list.

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