DEA Turns 35 This Week

[Photo from the DEA Gift Shop]

The Drug Enforcement Administration turns 35 this week. Here is a little history :

It was created by executive order of President Richard Nixon and went live on July 1 1973.

At its outset, the DEA had 1,470 Special Agents and a budget of less than $75 million. Furthermore, in 1974, the DEA had 43 foreign offices in 31 countries. Today, the DEA has 5,235 Special Agents, a budget of more than $2.3 billion and 86 foreign offices in 62 countries.

Since 1973, drug arrests have tripled: [more...]

According to the FBI’s Uniform Crime Reports, we did go from 628,000 drug law arrests in 1973 to almost 1.9 million arrests in 2006 – that’s about triple the number of arrests.

What have we gotton from the 35 year, $31 billion effort?

Bigger budgets, more drugs. More arrests, more deaths. More seizures, more potency. More agents, more users. For their thirty-fifth anniversary, perhaps they should change their name to the Drug Encouragement Administration.

If you'd like the other side, here's the DEA's view of their history. As to the early years, go here.

[Memo to DEA: I didn't want to steal your bandwidth so I put the photo on Flickr. If that's wrong, just tell me and I'll take it down. You don't need to come with a search warrant.]

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  • Display: Sort:
    35 long hard tyrannical years.... (5.00 / 3) (#1)
    by kdog on Thu Jul 03, 2008 at 02:17:45 PM EST
    here's to hoping there isn't a 36th!

    A man can dream, can't he?

    Sunset the DEA (5.00 / 1) (#2)
    by Katherine Graham Cracker on Thu Jul 03, 2008 at 02:25:50 PM EST
    What a completely stupid and wasteful public policy.

    It appears... (5.00 / 1) (#3)
    by MileHi Hawkeye on Thu Jul 03, 2008 at 02:33:08 PM EST
    ...that one can go to the DEA gift shop and get just about everything needed to impersonate an agent--except for the firearms.  And the jackboot mentality.

    what is the 2008 dollar equivalent of (5.00 / 1) (#4)
    by DFLer on Thu Jul 03, 2008 at 02:37:02 PM EST
    75 million in 1973 dollars?

    $367,895,172.76 (none / 0) (#9)
    by squeaky on Thu Jul 03, 2008 at 04:48:06 PM EST
    Give or take a couple hundred million.

    The agency that won't die (5.00 / 1) (#5)
    by cardcarryingmember on Thu Jul 03, 2008 at 02:40:08 PM EST
    I actually think of the DEA as really starting with the enactment of marijuana prohibition in 1937, although the fun definitely started for real during the Nixon years. I've been active in anti-drug-war advocacy for well over a decade, but it gets more and more depressing every year. Yes, the medical cannabis movement seems to be making some headway (even if it sometimes seems like one step forward, two back), but the persistently high and appalling incarceration figures (overwhelmingly black and hispanic, of course) and the continuing and enormous social damage that prohibition inflicts just seems to persist no matter which party gets into power. The drug war truly is the REAL third rail of American politics, at least on the federal level (where it seems to matter most). Politicians at least TALK about changing how social security works, for better or worse, or give lip service to a better health care system. When was the last time you heard anyone on the federal level talk about changing national drug policy, even if just to give it lip service?

    35 Too Many (5.00 / 2) (#7)
    by TChris on Thu Jul 03, 2008 at 03:00:27 PM EST
    It's time to do away with the DEA.  What does it do that the FBI can't?  And while we're at it, let's take drug investigators out of the IRS. I know that going after wealthy tax cheats isn't as much fun as the wasted effort to collect taxes on unreported income earned by drug dealers, but it would likely return many more dollars to the Treasury.

    I taught jungle operations (none / 0) (#6)
    by jeffinalabama on Thu Jul 03, 2008 at 03:00:24 PM EST
    to some of the early DEA folks when I was in the Army.

    I thought they were cowboys then.

    the more things stay the same...

    86 foriegn offices in 62 countries? (none / 0) (#8)
    by ruffian on Thu Jul 03, 2008 at 03:10:02 PM EST
    What are they doing, quality control?  Talk about a boondoggle.

    decriminalize marijuana, reduce or eliminate DEA (none / 0) (#11)
    by Tim V on Thu Jul 03, 2008 at 07:19:10 PM EST
    Marujuana compared to alcohol is a much safer drug. The number of deaths due to auto accidents from drunk drivers is huge but very accidents are due to pot use.
    The DEA should focus on heroin and cocaine coming into this country if they should do anything at all. Shutting down the DEA is worth considering.
    The costs of prosecuting drug users is enormous. First you have the law enforcement costs, then you have the legal costs and finally you have the costs of maintaining the prisons, not to mention the hidden costs of the lost potential productivity of prisoners, many of which could and should be productive members of society.

    drug tsar (none / 0) (#12)
    by akadannyboy on Sun Nov 02, 2008 at 09:00:18 PM EST
    I know I'm preaching to the choir,but how is a bogus drug agent a more pertinent story for "60 Minutes", that the self-perpetuating and bloated bureaucracy that is the DEA($31 billion and counting), and the misuse of public moneys by the drug tsar, for the purpose of influencing voters in a referendum on cannabis?