oversight

Justice Department: Coordination Between DEA and the FBI

Published by the Government Accountability Office on 1990-03-21.

Below is a raw (and likely hideous) rendition of the original report. (PDF)

 ii
               United   States   General   Accounting   Office

               Report to the Chairman, Committee on
GAO            Governmental Affairs, U.S. Senate



March   1990
               JUSTICE
               DEPARTMENT
               Coordination Between
               DEA and the FBI
United States
General Accounting  Office
Washington, D.C. 20648

General    Government   Division

B-238723

March 21,199O

The Honorable John Glenn
Chairman, Committee on Governmental Affairs
United States Senate

Dear Mr. Chairman:

As you requested, we reviewed the relationship between the Drug
Enforcement Administration (DEA) and the Federal Bureau of Investiga-
tion (FBI) in investigating drug trafficking. The primary objectives of our
review were to determine (1) how DEA and the FBI coordinate their drug
law enforcement activities; (2) how the Department of Justice oversees
drug law enforcement activities; and (3) the status of efforts to merge
the drug enforcement authority and resources of D!3A and the FBI into a
single agency, including agency views on the advantages and disadvan-
tages of such a merger.


DEL4 and  the FBI carry out their drug law enforcement responsibilities
independent of each other. They independently develop investigative
strategies and priorities, operate separate intelligence systems, and use
different systems for reporting and measuring their performance.

The agencies undertook several joint initiatives designed to enhance
coordination. Some initiatives were more successful than others. Agency
officials acknowledge that day-to-day informal coordination has been
more successful than some of their formal coordination efforts.

A 1982 Attorney General order directing a coordinated effort between
the two agencies required the Administrator, DEA, to report through the
Director, FBI, to the Attorney General. This aspect of the order was
never followed and the Attorney General is considering rescinding it. He
prefers that both agency heads continue reporting directly to him.

In December 1989, the Attorney General took another step to ensure
coordination. He filled the Deputy Attorney General position and
assigned the new Deputy responsibility for overseeing operational mat-
ters and resolving disputes between the two agencies, in addition to his
other duties. This action is consistent with recommendations in our 1986
report on Justice’s management processes. Among other things, we rec-
ommended greater central direction and management of Justice’s com-
ponent agencies.



Page 1                             GAO/GGD99-69 Coordination Between DEA and the FBI
                         B-233733




                         drug program. In June 1989, the FBI employed 9,606 special agents in its
                         headquarters, domestic field offices, and 16 foreign countries. Of these,
                         1,566 special agents were investigating drug law violations.’


                         To accomplish our objectives, we interviewed officials and reviewed
Objectives, Scope, and   documents from the Washington, DC., headquarters offices of the Jus-
Methodology              tice Department, DE& and FBI. We did field work and visited DEA and FBI
                         officials in three cities determined by DEA and the FBI to be major centers
                         of drug trafficking: Los Angeles, San Diego, and Miami. We also visited
                         the El Paso Intelligence Center (EPIC) in Texas2

                         We reviewed DEA’s and the FBI’S national drug strategies, their 1982
                         Implementation Directive for Concurrent Drug Investigative Jurisdiction
                         Between the Drug Enforcement Administration and the Federal Bureau
                         of Investigation, and documents related to DEA and FBI coordination ini-
                         tiatives. We examined Justice Department correspondence and Attorney
                         General orders, and we reviewed the Office of National Drug Control
                         Policy’s September 1989 and January 1990 National Drug Control Strat-
                         egies. We also included various DEA and FBI reports; analyses; budgets;
                         correspondence; historical documents; special studies; selected closed
                         case files; and agency accomplishments (in terms of statistics on investi-
                         gations, arrests, convictions, drug seizures, and asset seizures and for-
                          feitures) in our review. We accepted agency statistics as presented to us
                          and did not validate any of the figures.

                         We used our report, Justice Department: Improved Management
                         Processes Would Enhance Justice’s Operations (GAO/GGD86-12, Mar. 14,
                         1986), to evaluate Justice’s implementation of our 1986 recommenda-
                         tions regarding strengthening its management controls over component
                         agencies.

                          We discussed the contents of this report with responsible agency offi-
                          cials, who generally agreed with its contents. Based on their comments,
                          we made changes to the report where appropriate. We did our audit
                          work from September 1988 through January 1990 and in accordance
                          with generally accepted government auditing standards.

                          ‘Because of the many types of crimes that the FBI investigates, special agents we not necessarily
                          assigned exclusively to drug investigations. The FBI estimated this figure on the basis of the total
                          number of hours its agents recorded as working on drug investigations.

                          2EPIC is a clearinghouse for intelligence concemlng the smuggling of illegal drugs, weapons, and
                          aliens. It is administered by DIM and staffed by personnel from 10 federal agencies.



                          Page 3                                    GAO/GGDsoK9 Coordination Between DJZAand the FBI
                       B-233723




FBI Investigations     In May 1986, the FBI adopted and still uses its nationwide drug investi-
                       gation strategy at FBI field offices. The FBI strategy is designed to focus
                       the agency’s resources on investigations of groups controlling significant
                       segments of the illegal drug market. The major objective of the strategy
                       is to investigate large-scale cocaine and heroin trafficking organizations
                       nationwide, with the aim of dismantling the organizations and seizing
                       their illegal profits. A secondary objective of the FBI strategy is to inves-
                       tigate marijuana and other types of drug cases if major organizations
                       are involved.

                       According to FBI officials, the FBI attempts to dismantle an entire drug
                       trafficking organization in a single law enforcement operation. The FBI
                       tries to observe the activities of an organization and identify its leaders
                       and key members. When the FBI has identified the principal members
                       and gathered sufficient evidence to prosecute them, it attempts to arrest
                       all the leaders and key members at one time.


                       DEX’S  Narcotics and Dangerous Drugs Information System (NADDIS) is the
DEA and the FBI        principal intelligence system used by DEL4 to store and disseminate infor-
Maintain Separate      mation on an individual’s past criminal drug activities, associates, and
Intelligence Systems   other information documented by DFA. In January 1990, NADDIS con-
                       tained approximately two million names collected over the past 16
                       years, as well as information on businesses, ships, airplanes, and air-
                       fields. NADDIS is accessible from about 1,500 DEA terminals worldwide,
                       and it is used also by authorized federal, state, and local law enforce-
                       ment agencies.

                       According to DE.4 and the FBI, FBI field offices routinely access NADDIS in
                       the course of their drug investigations through requests to local DEA
                       offices and to EPIC. However, the FBI'S Organized Crime Information Sys-
                       tem (0~1s) and Investigative Support Information System (ISIS)are the
                       principal intelligence systems used in FBI drug investigations. OCIS,origi-
                       nally developed to support traditional organized crime investigations,
                       contains information about the characteristics, attributes, and relation-
                       ships of individuals, businesses, and criminal enterprises. According to
                       the FBI, about 35 percent of the information in OCIS is drug-related. ISIS is
                       a system used to assist FBI field offices in keeping track of data gener-
                       ated by all major FBI investigations. FBI officials said that because the
                       information in OCIS and ISIS is too sensitive and not relevant to drug
                       investigations, they do not give DFA or any other state, local, or federal
                        agency access to these systems.



                        Page 6
                       5238723




                       Instead, it tracks cases according to type of major drug trafficking orga-
                       nizations identified as priorities in its national drug strategy. According
                       to FBI officials, rather than classify cases by individual violator, the FBI
                       uses the number of “dismantled organizations” as its criterion of
                       success.


                       In 1982, DEA and the FBIestablished formal procedures to facilitate the
Coordination Between   coordination of investigative matters. Some of these procedures are no
Agencies               longer considered necessary and are not followed. The two agencies also
                       undertook a variety of joint projects to coordinate or integrate certain
                       activities and functions, such as efforts to enhance intelligence sharing.
                       Some of these joint projects were viewed by agency officials as success-
                       ful, while others were not.

                       Agency officials agreed that informal coordination has generally worked
                       better than formal joint projects. Generally, agency officials said, coordi-
                       nation works well between the two agencies, but personalities can some-
                       times affect the outcome of coordination efforts. Appendix I discusses
                       the two agencies’ coordination efforts in greater detail.


                       Justice Department officials acknowledge that until recently the Justice
Justice Department     Department did not actively oversee the activities of DFA and the FBI to
Oversight of DEA and   ensure they were coordinating their work. The Executive Assistant to
FBI Operations         the Attorney General, acting as the Attorney General’s chief spokesman,
                       said the current Attorney General believes in central management and
                       recognizes that DEA and the FBI have been “semi-autonomous in their
                       attitudes and behavior.” In December 1989, the Attorney General filled
                       the Deputy Attorney General position and assigned the new Deputy the
                       responsibility, in addition to his other duties, for overseeing DEA and the
                       FBI. The Deputy is responsible for handling the agencies’ operational
                       matters and resolving disputes as needed.

                       The Executive Assistant said that the Attorney General believes the DEA
                       Administrator and FBI Director must ultimately be held accountable to
                       him. Consequently, the two agency heads are to report to the Deputy on
                       day-to-day operational matters, but they report directly to the Attorney
                       General on more important matters, such as policy and strategic
                       decisions.

                       The Attorney General’s decision requiring the Deputy Attorney General
                       to provide greater central direction and management over DEA and the
                               B238723




                               and the FBI would not be merged. The Attorney General said that it made
                               “good sense” to retain DEL%as a separate and distinct agency, and he also
                               said that the current organizational structure-combined     with increased
                               joint activity-was   “the most effective pattern for the future.”

                               According to his Executive Assistant, the Attorney General does not
                               believe that a merger of DEL4 and FBI drug enforcement functions makes
                               sense at this time because the two agencies’ missions are too different
                               and the FBI has many other priority programs. While the Attorney Gen
                               era1 is not currently considering a merger, he is not ruling out a future
                               merger if the need arises.


Views Pertaining to DEA/       We solicited opinions from DEA and FBI headquarters officials regarding
                               the advantages and disadvantages of merging the two agencies’ drug
FBI Merger                     enforcement functions into one agency. The officials cited several
                               advantages to establishing one drug law enforcement agency. They said
                               a merger would

                           . provide uniformity of policy, guidelines, and programs;
                           . create a single national drug investigative strategy;
                           l eliminate redundancies in management, intelligence data bases, physical
                             facilities, communications equipment, training, and research and devel-
                             opment; and
                           l eliminate having two different systems for measuring drug investigation
                             performance and accomplishments.

                               DEA  and FBI officials also cited disadvantages. An FBI official said that
                               the American public might view a merger of DEL4 and the FBI as signaling
                               a reduced commitment by the federal government to the war on drugs.
                               DEA pointed out that creating a single set of policies, procedures, and
                               practices could be disruptive to operations during the transition. Both
                               DELI and FBI officials commented that the morale of employees of the dis-
                               banded agency could be negatively affected, leading to decreased pro-
                               ductivity and performance.

                                In discussing the merger pros and cons, some officials said a major con-
                                sideration in any merger decision would be the question of whether the
                                federal government should have a law enforcement agency solely
                                devoted to drugs. DEA already fulfills this role.




                                Page 9                        GAO/GGB9@69 Coordination Between DEA and the FBI
Page 11   GAO,‘GGWOO.59Coordination Between DEA and the FBI
contents




Abbreviations

DEA        Drug Enforcement Administration
DIS        Drug Information System
EPIC       El Paso Intelligence Center
FBI        Federal Bureau of Investigation
G-DEP      Geographic-Drug Enforcement Program
ISIS       Investigative Support Information System
NADDIS     Narcotics and Dangerous Drugs Information System
OCIS       Organized Crime Information System


 Page 13                     GAO/GGENO-69 Chmdhtion   Between DEA and the FBI
                       Appendix I
                       DEA and FBI Coordination Efforta




                       Other initiatives were discarded, merged, or remained active until the
                       Attorney General announced in April 1987 that DEL4 and the FBI would
                       not merge. The Attorney General directed in his announcement that
                       efforts should continue on initiatives to promote cooperation and effi-
                       ciency. These efforts were to focus on such areas as: developing a
                       national drug strategy; setting field office boundaries; and co-locating
                       offices, and support, communication, and other services. The Link-Up
                       Committee narrowed the remaining initiatives to eight that it deter-
                       mined best met the Attorney General’s directions.

                       Link-Up Committee officials told us that since 1987 little work has been
                       done on the eight initiatives. They said two initiatives have been dis-
                       carded, three are still active but not being worked on, and three are
                       active but with sporadic work being done on them.


                        In late 1987, the DES Administrator and FBI Director directed their agen-
Six-City
-,       Joint Drug     cies to develop and implement a joint investigative plan designed to
rian                    attack the most significant national and international drug trafficking
                       organizations, The Six-City Joint Drug Plan was subsequently estab-
                        lished. Under the plan, DEA and the FBI were to jointly investigate
                        selected major drug trafficking cases in six principal drug distribution
                        cities: Chicago, Houston, Los Angeles, Miami, New York, and San Diego.
                        In each city, special-agents-in-charge from both agencies’ field offices
                       jointly designed a plan to meet the program’s objectives for their
                        regions.

                       Both agencies considered the joint efforts in Chicago and Houston to be
                       successful. An FBI assessment of the program states that in Chicago, for
                       example, “The mutual understanding of each agency’s expertise and
                       mission has saved hundreds of hours of manpower and has led to the
                       more effective use of resources.” The agencies considered the joint
                       efforts in Miami, New York, and San Diego less successful because of
                       conflicts and problems, such as disagreements over sta.ffing. DEA and FBI
                       officials said that their offices in Los Angeles no longer participate in
                       the program because of personality differences and conflicts over inves-
                       tigative strategies and approaches.


                       According to DEA and FBIofficials, the two agencies made several
DEA and FBI            attempts to enhance intelligence sharing. These efforts, described below,
Intelligence Sharing   have had mixed success, according to agency officials.



                       Page 16                            GAO/GGIW959   C!aordination Between DEA and the FBI
Appendix II

Major Contributors to This Report


                        Weldon    McPhail, Assistant Director, Administration of Justice Issues
General Government      John L.   Vialet, Assistant Director, Administration of Justice Issues
Division, Washington,   William   J. Kruvant, Advisor
                        Rodney    F. Hobbs, Evaluator
D.C.

                        Ronald G. Viereck, Regional Management Representative
Los Angeles Regional    Cassandra I. Gudaitis, Evaluator-in-Charge
Office                  Dorian R. Dunbar, Evaluator




(186727)                Page 17                         GAO/GGIMO-K9 Coordination Between DEA and the FBI
    Appendix I
    DEA and FBI Chmdhatlon   EXPorta




.   FBI and DEA counterpart field offices are required to notify each other
    when a drug investigation is opened. DEL4 field offices are to transmit the
    information to DEA headquarters for input into NADDIS. Subjects of drug
    investigations can then be disclosed to authorized NADDIS users. FBI offi-
    cials told us that a 1989 FBI study of six cities showed that many new FBI
    cases were never entered into NADDE According to the FBI, the informa-
    tion had been sent from FBI field offices to DEA field offices. Neither the
    FBI nor DEA could determine where the breakdown occurred. As an alter-
    native to the current procedure, the FBI is considering modifying its com-
    puterized Field Office Information Management System so that it will
    aUtOrW&tiC~ly    enter FBI case Openin@  in NADDIS.
l   In 1988,  a joint DEA/FBI Drug Intelligence Unit was   established at DEA
    headquarters. The unit’s purpose was to provide intelligence support to
    three DEA Special Enforcement Operations directed at Mexican and
    Colombian drug trafficking groups, and to the DEA/FBI Six-City Joint
    Drug Plan. The FBI indicated it had provided a unit chief, two supervi-
    sory agents, and four intelligence analysts, but DEA had not assigned
    full-time staff to the unit. A DEA official said that DEA analysts were not
    yet needed full-time. FBI officials said that DEA analysts could have been
    used productively but DEA was unwilling to use FBI intelligence analysis
    techniques. We did not evaluate their assessments.
l   In Miami and Chicago, DEA and FBI field offices created joint intelligence
    working groups in 1986 and 1989. These groups gather, collate, and ana-
    lyze field-based intelligence. Intelligence produced by the working
    groups led to the arrest of major drug traffickers and the seizure of
    large quantities of drugs, and both agencies consider the working groups
    so successful that they plan to expand the concept to other cities. The
    September 1989 National Drug Control Strategy also recommends
    expanding the use of the DEA/mI joint intelligence working group
    concept.




    Page 16                            GAO/GGD9%39 hrdinatlon   Between DEA and the FBI
Appendix I

DEA and F’BI Coordination Efforts


                       In 1982, DEA and the FBI established formal procedures to facilitate the
                       coordination of investigative matters. Some of the procedures are no
                       longer considered necessary and are not followed. The two agencies also
                       initiated various joint projects intended to coordinate or integrate cer-
                       tain activities and functions. Agency officials said some of these projects
                       have been successful.


                       In March 1982, DEA and the FBI jointly prepared and issued the Imple-
1982 Joint Agreement   mentation Directive for Concurrent Drug Investigative Jurisdiction
                       Between the Drug Enforcement Administration and the Federal Bureau
                       of Investigation. The Directive’s purpose was to implement the Attorney
                       General’s decision to give the FBI the authority to investigate violations
                       of federal drug laws, and it addresses areas in which “the FBI will sup-
                       plement and, just as important, complement” DFA’s efforts in attacking
                       the drug crime problem. The Directive specifies procedures to be fol-
                       lowed by the two agencies in coordinating investigative matters.

                       Officials of both agencies characterized the Directive as a document that
                       was necessary in 1982 (when the FBI first received Title 21 authority)
                       but which has somewhat outlived its usefulness. They said it was
                       needed initially to establish operational parameters and define roles, but
                       some of its procedures are no longer followed or considered necessary.
                       For example, regular meetings between DEX and FBI headquarters and
                       field office officials are not held as required by the Directive because the
                       officials meet and coordinate as needed.


                       In 1984, the FBI Director asked that an executive level DEA-FBI committee
Link-Up Committee      be formed “to avoid duplication, effect economy, and make the opera-
                       tions of the FBI and DEA more effective and efficient.” The resulting
                       Committee for the Coordination of FBI/DEA Activities (referred to as the
                       Link-Up Committee), and many of the subsequent initiatives it under-
                       took, was also predicated upon the possibility of a merger between DEA
                       and the FBI.

                       The Link-Up Committee eventually undertook 56 projects aimed at
                       “integrating appropriate functions” of the two agencies. Nine of the 56
                       initiatives were successfully implemented, according to DEA and FBI offi-
                       cials. These included sharing training facilities at the FBI Academy in
                       Quantico, Virginia; using the FBI’S Applicant Program to conduct back-
                       ground investigations of prospective DFA agents; and co-locating a small
                       number of DEA and FBI agents in field offices.


                       Page 14                       GAO/GGDlXM9 Coordination Between DEA and the FBI
Contents


                                                                                                         1

Appendix I                                                                                              14
DEA and FBI                 1982 Joint Agreement                                                        14
                            Link-Up Committee                                                           14
Coordination Efforts        Six-City Joint Drug Plan                                                    15
                            DEA and FBI Intelligence Sharing                                            16

Appendix II                                                                                             17
                            General Government Division, Washington, D.C.                               17
Major   Contributors   to   Los Angeles Regional Office                                                 17
This Report




                            Page 12                     GAO/GGD4%69 coordination   Between DEA and the FBI
B-238723




DEA   officials pointed out that the agency has years of experience with a
wide variety of drug enforcement programs, as well as established con-
tacts within the United States and in foreign countries. Some of the DEA
officials were against the FBI absorbing DEA because of the FBI’S multiple
missions. They questioned whether a drug program in the FBI would con-
tinually be given the necessary priority and resources.

FBI officials, on the other hand, said they believe the FBI would be the
logical choice as the only federal drug law enforcement agency. They
said drugs pervade every major category of crime, and the FBI is able to
generate a large amount of drug-related intelligence from its investiga-
tions of other crimes. The FBI has also established relationships interna-
tionally in its other priority programs, such as organized crime and
white-collar crime, that would help with international drug investiga-
tions, they said. We did not attempt to substantiate either agency’s
views.


As arranged with the Committee, we plan no further distribution of this
report until 30 days after the date of the report, unless you release the
report or its contents prior to that time. After 30 days, we will send
copies to the Attorney General; Administrator, DEA; Director, FBI; and
other interested parties. We will make copies available to others upon
request.

Major contributors to this report are listed in appendix II. Please contact
me at 276-8389 if you have any questions concerning the report.

Sincerely yours,




Lowell Dodge
Director, Administration
  of Justice Issues




Page 10                       GAO/GGlMO&9 Coordination Between DEA and the FBI
                           E238723




                           FBI is consistent with recommendations we made in a 1986 report for
                           strengthening central management of the Justice Department3 We rec-
                           ommended that the Attorney General clearly assign responsibility to
                           top-level Justice executives for overseeing program operations and effi-
                           ciently managing the Department. The Justice Department generally
                           agreed with the thrust of the report and said it strongly supported
                           almost all of our recommendations.


Attorney General’s I.982   As discussed earlier, in 1982 the Attorney General issued an order that,
                           in part, directed the DEA Administrator to carry out his functions under
Order Not Followed         the general supervision of the FBI Director and to report through the
                           Director to the Attorney General. This was intended to ensure coordina-
                           tion between DEA and the FBI, but this aspect of the order was never
                           followed.

                           According to agency officials, the DE% Administrator continued to report
                           directly to the Attorney General. The FBI Director was kept informed of
                           DEL4 policy changes but was not involved in DEA’S operations. The Execu-
                           tive Assistant to the Attorney General said the Attorney General is con-
                           sidering rescinding this aspect of the 1982 order because he believes it is
                           appropriate for the two agency heads to report directly to him.


                           Merging DEA and FBI drug enforcement activities has been considered at
DEA/FESI Merger Not        least twice since 1981. In 1981, an advisory committee appointed by the
Likely at This Time        Attorney General recommended that DEA and the FBI be linked in a con-
                           solidated effort against drugs. The committee recommended that DEL4
                           and the FBI not be completely merged, but it noted that such a merger
                           might be advisable in the future. The advisory committee’s report cited
                           differing organizational structures, administrative procedures, and per-
                           sonnel practices as impediments to a complete merger. The Attorney
                           General followed the committee’s advice and linked, but did not merge,
                           the two agencies in 1982.

                           A merger was again rejected in 1987. The Anti-Drug Abuse Act of 1986
                           required the President to submit recommendations to Congress for reor-
                           ganizing the executive branch to more effectively combat drug traffick-
                           ing and drug abuse. The President delegated this task to the Attorney
                           General. On April 22, 1987, the Attorney General announced that DELA

                           3Justice Department:Improved Management ProcessesWould Enhance Justice’s Operations (GAO/
                           -6-12,     Mar. 14, 1986).



                            Page 8                              GAO/GGDso-69 Coordination Between DEA and the FBI
                      B-233722




                      According to FBI officials, the FBI is developing another system, the Drug
                      Information System (DIS), which will contain only drug-related intelli-
                      gence data. The FBI is considering making these data available to other
                      drug enforcement agencies.

                      The September 1989 and January 1990 National Drug Control Strategies
                      call for improving and unifying federal drug intelligence systems and
                      increasing the accessibility of these systems to law enforcement agen-
                      cies. The strategies emphasize the need to maximize the sharing and use
                      of drug intelligence among appropriate government organizations. The
                       1990 strategy states that the administration will create a National Drug
                      Intelligence Center to consolidate and coordinate intelligence gathered
                      by law enforcement agencies and to disseminate the results to appropri-
                      ate agencies. The Justice Department will supervise the center. DElA and
                      the FBI will be the primary users, according to a Justice Department
                      official.


                      DEA  and the FBI also have different ways in which they measure agency
Performance           performance. DEA uses a violator classification system, which distin-
Measurement Systems   guishes between major traffickers and minor drug violators. The FBI
Are Different         does not have a violator classification system; it classifies major cases
                      on the basis of intelligence that has been collected. The two agencies
                      have no plans to develop a common system for measuring their
                      accomplishments.

                      The Geographic-Drug Enforcement Program (GDEP) is DEA'S system for
                      measuring its enforcement activities. DEA management uses G-DEPas a
                      means of internally monitoring the productivity and efficiency of its
                      organizational elements and programs. Externally, the system is used by
                      the executive branch and Congress to evaluate DEA'S productivity and
                      efficiency. G-DEP is a code classification system that categorizes drug vio-
                      lators and drug cases into four classes-from highest to lowest level
                      traffickers. These classifications are based on quantitative criteria-the
                      amounts of drugs involved-and        qualitative criteria-the violator’s
                      position within the drug trafficking network. The GDEP system also
                      identifies the type of drug involved, the violator’s geographical loca-
                      tions, the type of case, and the type of investigation.

                      The FBI'S performance management system does not classify drug viola-
                      tors, and it does not classify its cases according to the significance or
                      importance of the individual traffickers within their organizations,



                      Page 6                         GAO/GGD90-69 Coordination Between DEA and the FBI
                     B-238723




                     DEX  and the FBI have the same goal in the war on drugs: to identify,
DEA and FE!1         investigate, and arrest members of high-level drug trafficking organiza-
Operations Largely   tions and to destroy the operations of those organizations. To help
Independent          accomplish this, both agencies seize assets related to illegal drug activi-
                     ties for forfeiture to the federal government.

                     For the most part, the two agencies operate independently. Each agency
                     independently establishes investigative strategies and priorities, collects
                     and stores intelligence, and targets drug trafficking organizations. Gen-
                     erally, the two agencies separately initiate and conduct investigations,
                     using different investigative philosophies and techniques. The agencies
                     also differ in the way they measure performance.

                     Drug investigations done jointly by DEA and the FBI in fiscal years 1987
                     and 1988 comprised about 6 percent of DEx’s total cases and about 16
                     percent of the FBI's total drug cases. Officials from both agencies agreed
                     that the number of joint investigations is relatively small in comparison
                     to the total. However, they are generally satisfied with this level.


DEA Investigations   DEA'S  1990/1991 Strategic Plan calls for immobilizing major drug traf-
                     fickers and their organizations and using DEA's authority to seize traf-
                     fickers’ assets in each investigation. DEA'S highest priorities are (1) its
                     Special Enforcement Operations, which target specific major organiza-
                     tions; and (2) its Special Enforcement Programs, which focus on specific
                     drug trafficking problems or areas. According to DEA, DEA’S goal is to
                     dismantle major national and international drug trafficking organiza-
                     tions. D!?.A does not necessarily arrest all the organizations’ leaders and
                     key members at one time. In some investigations, DEA arrests individual
                     members of organizations and attempts to turn less significant criminals
                     into informants and learn more about the key figures. This approach
                     allows DFA to “work up the ladder” of an organization and reach its
                     leaders.

                     DEA   is the single point of contact abroad for drug investigations, intelli-
                     gence, and liaison. DEA and the FBI have agreed that, with the exception
                     of Italy and Canada, the FBI will not coordinate directly with foreign
                     drug enforcement officials regarding the international aspects of its
                     drug investigations. Any involvement of FBI personnel in foreign investi-
                     gations must have the concurrence of both DEA and FBI headquarters
                     officials.




                     Page 4                         GAO/GGB96-69 Coordination Between DEA and the FBI
                 B-238723




                 Since 1981, the Attorney General has at least twice considered and
                 rejected merging DEX and FBI drug law enforcement activities. Although
                 the Attorney General is not currently planning a merger, he is not ruling
                 out such a merger if the need arises in the future, according to his Exec-
                 utive Assistant. Agency officials suggested several advantages and dis-
                 advantages of such a merger.


                 In 1973, President Nixon established DEA in the Department of Justice to
Background       enforce the federal drug laws (Title 21, U.S.C.). The President desig-
                 nated DEA as the lead federal agency for drug law enforcement. In Janu-
                 ary 1982, the Attorney General issued an order making the investigative
                 resources of the FBI available to complement and supplement those of
                 DEA in investigating drug law violations under Title 2 1. His order placed
                 DEA’S Administrator   under the general supervision of the FBI’s Director
                 and required the Administrator to report through the Director to the
                 Attorney General. This move was designed to ensure coordination of the
                 two agencies’ drug law enforcement efforts.

                 DEA’S    responsibilities were not changed by the Attorney General’s order.
                 DEA’S    responsibilities include

             . investigating major drug law violators who produce and distribute ille-
               gal drugs, both domestically and internationally;
             . countering the diversion of legally produced drugs into illicit markets;
             l participating in federal, state, and local drug law enforcement task
               forces;
             l managing a national narcotics intelligence system to collect, analyze, and
               disseminate drug intelligence; and
             l managing the Domestic Cannabis Eradication/Suppression Program.

                 The FBI received an additional responsibility as a result of the 1982
                 Attorney General’s order-investigating        drug law violations. The FBI
                 investigates many other crimes, such as interstate gambling, bank rob-
                 beries, extortion, civil rights violations, kidnapping, corruption of public
                 officials, and acts of terrorism. The FBI’S six priority programs are drug
                 trafficking, counter-terrorism, foreign counter-intelligence, traditional
                 organized crime, white-collar crime, and violent crime.

                 DELI’S fiscal year 1989 budget was $534.5 million. In June 1989, DEA
                 employed 2,527 special agents in its headquarters and domestic field
                 offices and 252 special agents in 45 foreign countries. The FBI’s fiscal
                 year 1989 budget was $1.4 billion, of which $129.2 million was for its


                 Page 2                           GAO/GGDW-59 Coordination Between DEA and the FBI