DEA Global Holy Warriors Take On Iran

I've been writing for two years about the ever-increasing power given to the DEA and its involvement in sting after sting with no connection to drugs coming to the U.S. From the DEA's Excellent African Adventures to the case of Russian pilot Yuri Yaroshenko to Viktor Bout. (Two of the defendants in the Yaroshenko case were acquitted and sent home to Africa.)

The judges in the Southern District of New York have continuously defeated claims of manufactured jurisdiction, allowing the cases to proceed. The crimes are instigated by the DEA, don't come to fruition, and yet we (the taxpayers) end up funding their missions and then paying to incarcerate those snagged for the 20 plus year sentences they ultimately receive.

The newest Iran case is no different. The DEA is now a global police force, with offices in 83 countries and a budget in the billions. They are global holy warriors. [More..]

It was a DEA informant who tipped the agency about the suspected plot of two Iranian agents trying to hire someone who had experience with explosives to assassinate the Saudi ambassador, according to court documents released on Tuesday.

..Alarmed and intrigued at what they heard about a possible wider plot involving Iranians with government connections, DEA and FBI officers launched an elaborate investigation. But it seems to have been the informant, likely under instructions from his handlers, who decided to pose as an explosives-savvy member of the Zetas, a Mexican drug gang.

The drugs in the case of Russian Pilot Yuri Yaroshenko were to go from South America to Liberia to Ghana. There was no connection to the U.S. except for the tactics of the DEA and its informants to create the appearance of some nexus to the United States in order to bring the charges in New York.

Here's the May, 2011 Congressional testimony of Thomas M. Harrigan, Assistant Administrator and Chief of Operations, U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration:

The DEA recognizes that in order to effectively attack the international drug trade, it has to forward deploy its personnel into the foreign arena. DEA has the largest federal law enforcement presence overseas. DEA has 83 offices in 63 countries and works with the U.S. Interagency and host government partners in assessing drug threats, consistent with local host government laws gathering intelligence, targeting major DTOs, and, in coordination with the Department of State (DOS), assisting host governments in developing comprehensive counternarcotics strategies.

Hartigan discusses the DEA's five year plan: More wiretaps and other forms of surveillance, more use of the military, and more intelligence sharing and "fusion" with foreign countries. He explains:

The United States Government’s present strategy in Central America is the Drug Flow Attack Strategy (DFAS). DFAS is an innovative strategy leveraging DEA, DoD, other U.S. law enforcement agencies, and host nation assets to combat illicit trafficking in the region.

What is the Drug Flow Attack Strategy (DFAS) and Operation All Inclusive (OAI):

Operation All-inclusive (OAI) is the primary DFAS enforcement component in the source and transit zones. OAI is a combination of sequential and simultaneous land, air, maritime, and financial attacks targeted by DEA intelligence and involves synchronized interagency counterdrug operations designed to influence illicit trafficking patterns and increase disruptions of DTOs.

This of course costs money:

DEA recommends that the U.S. Government redouble efforts to coordinate across the Inter-agency in order to provide standardized equipment and training to its partner and other security organizations across the region. This includes, but is not limited to, establishing a regional secure radio communications network, airborne and sea-based operating platforms, deployment of a regional license plate reader system, purchase of non-intrusive inspection equipment and ion scanners for points of entry, and the necessary training to utilize this equipment with the highest degree of proficiency.

The DEA has become a menace. Someone needs to rein them in. A good starting point would be for Congress to start cutting their budget. They are supposed to be addressing drug crime in the U.S. not policing the world and creating international crime and terror plots.

From the DEA's 2012 $2 billion budget justification:

With the largest foreign presence of any federal law enforcement agency, DEA’s role in a world of globalization is becoming increasingly important to representing U.S. interests. The successes of DEA’s foreign operations are based on its ability to maintain a presence in all parts of the world. In order to fulfill its mission overseas, DEA personnel must be strategically assigned to various parts of the world in order to provide an operational focus that ensures the conduct of long-term bilateral investigations.

According to the White House, the 2012 budget for domestic law enforcement exceeds $9.5 billion. For interdiction from foreign countries, the Defense Department and Homeland Security get $3.9 billion. And State, Justice and DOD together get $2 billion for international drug enforcement.

Here's the 2011 annual report to Congress from the State Department describing our drug enforcement efforts around the world. The State Department's 2011 international drug control budget runs 221 pages and is available here. Total: $2,136 million.

The International Narcotics Control and Law Enforcement (INCLE) request of $2,136 million will continue to support country and global programs critical to combating transnational crime and illicit threats, including efforts against terrorist networks in the illegal drug trade and illicit enterprises.

Neither the State Department nor DEA's budget numbers include the amounts for drug war funding by the Justice Department (2012 drug budget here), FBI, or Homeland Security. Or the Defense Department. Here is the 467 page proposed 2012 Budget for Foreign Operations. Skip to page 137 (which is page 127 of the Budget.) More on the funding numbers for South America here and on the $4 billion for DEA and prosecutions in the 2011 Justice Department budget here.

For FY 2011, approximately $5 billion or 17 percent of the Department’s total budget is dedicated to target these growing problems, including $1 billion for federal law enforcement to help address violent crime and $4 billion for federal drug enforcement and prosecution efforts.

You can even read about the stings in these Wikileaks cables. (More here.) Or in my post here on the Oumar Issa case, based on court pleadings in the case. In the case of Oumar Issa, it wasn't really FARC, just paid DEA informants pretending to be FARC. There never were any drugs, and the pretend drugs weren't headed to the U.S. but Europe. But the DEA arrested the three would-be purchasers/transporters in Ghana and flew them to New York for prosecution on terror and narco-terror charges.

Yet another case: U.S. v. Ali Sesay, et.al., Case No. 10-457 (SDNY.) The defense argued:

In short, the only connection to the United States was manufactured by one “Nabil”, a cooperating source with the Drug Enforcement Administration, who insisted that he get paid in cocaine to be trans-shipped from Liberia to Ghana and then to New York. Nabil’s insistence on being paid in cocaine to be sent to the United States had nothing to do with the charged conspiracy and was a blatant attempt on the part of the Drug Enforcement Administration agents to justify their involvement in this investigation, and to manufacture subject-matter jurisdiction, where none existed. Nabil, clearly acting as a government agent, entered into his own separate agreement with Kamara to route his payment to the United States. No cocaine was actually shipped to Ghana for later shipment to the United States.

The Government did not dispute that the only connection to the U.S. was that the DEA informant asked that after the group finishes its business of shipping drugs from South America to Liberia to Ghana, that his portion of drugs be shipped from Ghana to the U.S. It argued there's nothing wrong with the DEA's practice and it's what Congress intended.

Last year the DEA opened an office in Nairobi. Why? Because, like with Liberia and Ghana, it wants to stop drugs from going from South America to Africa and then Europe.

So it's not at all surprising that the DEA's latest caper is to use an informant pretending to be a Zeta to snag some guys from Iran. Given the implications of messing with Iran, the DEA is the last agency I'd want calling the shots. Not to mention it's far too over-extended from fighting its multitude of wars, from the war on medical marijuana to doctors prescribing pain medication to a war on geriatric Aspen dealers.

It's time someone put the brakes on the DEA's global holy wars.

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  • Display: Sort:
    Ah! FInally the Iranian farce is beginning to make (none / 0) (#1)
    by jawbone on Sat Oct 15, 2011 at 09:17:51 PM EST
    sense -- not good sense, but at least it isn't quite as inexplicable.

    "the DEA's five year plan" (none / 0) (#2)
    by Mr Natural on Sun Oct 16, 2011 at 08:11:13 AM EST
    Spreadsheet Madness.