Tag Archives: Drug Enforcement Administration

Bernie Sanders Introduces Bill to End Federal Marijuana Prohibition

A bill was introduced in the Senate on Wednesday by Democratic presidential candidate Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) that would end federal prohibition on marijuana and allow legalization to be determined by the states.

The Ending Federal Marijuana Prohibition Act of 2015 states that it would limit the application of federal laws to the distribution and consumption of marijuana, ultimately removing all references to cannabis in the Controlled Substances Act.

[RELATED: Colorado Becomes First State to Generate More Tax Revenue From Marijuana than from Alcohol Sales]

The Huffington Post noted that Sanders’s bill is modeled after one that was proposed by Rep. Jared Polis (D-Colo.) in 2013 and reintroduced in 2015 as the Regulate Marijuana Like Alcohol Act.

“Just as alcohol prohibition failed in the 1920s, it’s clear marijuana prohibition is failing today,” Polis said. “For decades, the federal ban on marijuana has wasted tax dollars, impeded our criminal justice system, lined the pockets of drug cartels, and trampled on states’ ability to set their own public health laws.”

Polis described the introduction of the Ending Federal Marijuana Prohibition Act in the Senate as “a huge step forward in the movement to enact the commonsense drug laws needed to grow our economy and restore fairness to our justice system.”

Although recreational marijuana is legal in Washington, Alaska, ColoradoOregon and the District of Columbia, it remains illegal under federal law.

[RELATED: Reality Check: U.S. Non-Violent Drug Offenders Incarceration Rate is Shameful]

Leslie Bocskor, a managing partner of Electrum Partners, a medical marijuana consulting firm, told Yahoo News that he believes removing marijuana from the federal government’s list of banned substances would “alleviate several unwanted byproducts of the U.S. war on drugs.”

[pull_quote_center]This includes reducing our rate of incarceration for nonviolent offenders, addressing racial injustice enabled by the criminalization of marijuana not to mention increased tax revenue, a regulated marketplace keeping marijuana out of the hands of children, job creation, the destruction of criminal cartels by removing their revenue streams and keeping wealth in the communities that have established regulated frameworks.[/pull_quote_center]

The Marijuana Policy Project, a marijuana reform organization, noted that while Sanders’ bill is the fourth one seeking marijuana policy reform, it is the first bill that actually proposes the end of federal marijuana prohibition.

While cannabis has been known to help with diseases such as cancer, epilepsy and Crohn’s disease, the Drug Enforcement Administration defines marijuana as a Schedule I drug, or one of “the most dangerous drugs of all the drug schedules with potentially severe psychological or physical dependence.”

On the DEA’s list of drugs, marijuana is alongside substances including heroin, LSD and ecstasy, while cocaine, methamphetamine and oxycodone are listed as less hazardous Schedule II drugs.

Last year, Ben Swann examined the federal government’s classification of marijuana, seen in the video below. While marijuana remains a Schedule I drug, the government also holds patents on the substance to treat various diseases and conditions.


Menominee Indian Tribe Says DEA Destroyed Hemp Crop

The Menominee Indian Tribe says that the Drug Enforcement Administration raided what it characterized as a legal hemp crop last Friday. DEA officials acknowledged the raid over the weekend, but claimed that it was 30,000 marijuana plants, not hemp plants, that were seized during the raid on 20 acres of tribal property.

Menominee Indian Tribe Chairman Gary Besaw said in a statement:

[pull_quote_center]I am deeply disappointed that the Obama administration has made the decision to utilize the full force of the DEA to raid our Tribe. We were attempting to grow industrial hemp for research purposes in accordance with the Farm Bill. We offered to take any differences in the interpretation of the Farm Bill to federal court. Instead, the Obama administration sent agents to destroy our crop while allowing recreational marijuana in Colorado. I just wish the President would explain to tribes why we can’t grow industrial hemp like the states, and even more importantly, why we don’t deserve an opportunity to make our argument to a federal judge rather than having our community raided by the DEA?[/pull_quote_center]

[RELATED: Santee Sioux Tribe to Launch First-in-the-Nation Pot Resort in South Dakota]

DEA officials asserted that marijuana was being grown on the premises by non-tribe members from Colorado. CBS 58 Milwaukee pointed out the fact that no arrests were made during the raid and “the investigation is ongoing.”

The Menominee Tribe had reportedly been involved in face-to-face negotiations with the DEA prior to the raid and had offered to destroy some hemp strands from the crop which had been identified as problematic under the Farm Bill’s regulations.

[RELATED: DEA Records Show Punishment is Rare Among Rampant Misconduct]

North American Industrial Hemp Council founder Erwin Sholts told Fox 11 News, “There is always a little bit of THC [in hemp] because the one flower may in the harvesting process spill some THC onto the stalk and so on, but 3/10 of 1 percent is a general level of THC in industrial hemp and you can’t make a drug out of it.

The Menominee Indian Tribe’s statement on the raid said:

[pull_quote_center]In May 2015, the Menominee Indian Tribe of Wisconsin legalized the growing of low THC non-psychotropic industrial hemp by Tribal licensees on its lands. Notice of this change in Tribal law was provided to the United States Attorney’s Office for the Eastern District of Wisconsin. This action was intended to comply with Congress’ actions in 2014 Farm Bill which recognizing [sic] a distinction between marijuana and industrial hemp that created an exception to the Controlled Substance Act to allow for growth, cultivation and the study of industrial hemp in certain circumstances. The Tribe’s industrial hemp crop was always intended to be a legal crop as allowed by the 2014 Farm Bill.[/pull_quote_center]

DEA Records Show Punishment is Rare Among Rampant Misconduct

Despite a plethora of offenses documented in a 5-year period including failing drug tests, losing and stealing firearms, committing DWI, distributing drugs, falsifying records, and sexual harassment perpetrated by Drug Enforcement Agency (DEA) employees, punishment beyond a written warning or brief suspension for serious misconduct is a rare consequence.

According to a report from USA Today, “The DEA’s internal affairs log shows investigators review more than 200 cases each year and often clear the agents involved.”

DEA discipline logs obtained through a Freedom Of Information Act request show that between 2010 and 2015, most cases of employee misconduct resulted in letters of caution, letters of reprimand, or short-term suspensions. Letters of caution differ from letters of reprimand which remain on an employee’s record; caution letters are not official disciplinary actions and do not become part of an employee’s record.

Offenses identified in the the logs include but are not limited to failing random drug tests; losing firearms; stealing firearms; DWI arrests; falsifying records; stealing evidence; improper use of government credit cards; creation of false documents; “improper association with a criminal element”; numerous cases of alcohol-related incidents violating agency policy; misusing government property; sexual harassment; and cases of failure to follow instructions. The log identifying offenses from 2010-2015 can be seen here.

[RELATED: DOJ Report Exposes DEA Agents’ Sex Parties with Prostitutes Funded by Colombian Drug Cartels]

Out of 50 DEA employees who were recommended to be terminated by the agency’s Board of Professional Conduct, 13 were actually fired. Some of those 13 ended up being reinstated due to federal appeals.

One employee who was recommended to be fired for distributing drugs received a 2-week suspension instead.

“If we conducted an investigation, and an employee actually got terminated, I was surprised,” said Carl Pike, a former internal affairs investigator for the DEA. “I was truly, truly surprised. Like, wow, the system actually got this guy.”

The release of these DEA discipline logs are on the heels of the Department Of Justice’s recent scrutiny of the agency following a DOJ inspector general report, released in March, that described how DEA agents attended sex parties funded by Colombian drug cartels.

“DEA agents stationed in places like Colombia let local police watch their weapons and other personal items as they engaged in hedonistic sex parties in their taxpayer-funded living quarters with prostitutes paid for by drug cartels. Ten agents confessed to attending the parties, some of whom were disciplined with suspensions lasting between two to ten days,” wrote Truth In Media’s Barry Donegan.

About a month after news of the sex party scandal broke, DEA administrator Michele Leonhart announced her resignation. A week before resigning, Leonhart was pressed by Rep. Trey Gowdy (R-S.C.) to explain why she hadn’t fired the agents. She replied that federal law prohibits that action.

“If somebody murdered somebody, could you fire him?” asked Gowdy.

“If someone murdered someone, there would be criminal charges, and that’s how they would be fired,” Leonhart responded.

Report: DEA Collected Americans’ Phone Records Years Before NSA’s Collection Began

A report released on Tuesday revealed that several years before the National Security Agency began recording Americans’ phone calls, the Drug Enforcement Administration had its own program that began recording calls in 1992.

The report, which was first released by USA Today, found that the DEA’s operation began in 1992, acted as a blueprint for the NSA’s massive data collection program, and was the government’s “first known effort to gather data on Americans in bulk, sweeping up records of telephone calls made by millions of U.S. citizens regardless of whether they were suspected of a crime.”

As previously reported, the existence of the DEA’s program was first revealed in January. However, the full scope of the program was not exposed at the time. USA Today noted that while its report gives insight into the program, there are parts of it that still remain classified.

Officials involved with the operation told USA Today that for more than two decades, the Justice Department and the DEA “amassed logs of virtually all telephone calls from the USA to as many as 116 countries linked to drug trafficking,” with target countries including Canada, Mexico and most of Central and South America.

In a letter from the Justice Department to Sprint in 1998, obtained by USA Today, the department asked the phone company to turn over its call records, and called the DEA’s data collection “one of the most important and effective Federal drug law enforcement initiatives,” which had been “approved at the highest levels of Federal law enforcement authority,” according to Mary Lee Warren, the head of the department’s Narcotics and Dangerous Drugs Section.

According to the report, DEA agents did not intercept the content of the phone calls, but they did obtain which numbers were called and when, and they then linked those numbers to an electronic collection of investigative reports, domestic call records and foreign intelligence data.

USA Today reported that although the NSA’s program is still in place, Attorney General Eric Holder halted the DEA’s program in Sept. 2013, after Edward Snowden revealed that the NSA was collecting call records and data from innocent Americans. The report claims that the DEA now sends subpoenas to phone companies, in order to obtain international calling records, and that they sometimes request “a thousand or more numbers a day.”

DOJ Report Exposes DEA Agents’ Sex Parties with Prostitutes Funded by Colombian Drug Cartels

The Drug Enforcement Administration is the Department of Justice’s law enforcement arm charged with enforcing US drug prohibition laws, ostensibly under the guise of protecting Americans from their own libertine, lascivious tendencies. However, a new DOJ inspector general report released on Thursday exposed the fact that DEA agents stationed in places like Colombia let local police watch their weapons and other personal items as they engaged in hedonistic sex parties in their taxpayer-funded living quarters with prostitutes paid for by drug cartels. Ten agents confessed to attending the parties, some of whom were disciplined with suspensions lasting between two to ten days.

The report by DOJ Inspector General Michael E. Horowitz notes that Colombian police officers said that DEA agents accepted bribes from drug cartels. Said the report, “The foreign officers further alleged that in addition to soliciting prostitutes, three DEA SSAs [special agents] in particular were provided money, expensive gifts, and weapons from drug cartel members.”

Utah Republican Congressman Jason Chaffetz discussed the national security implications in comments to Politico and said, “You can’t ignore this. This is terribly embarrassing and fundamentally not right… We need to understand what’s happening with the culture … anytime you bring a foreign national into your room, you’re asking for trouble.” He called for the DEA to fire the agents involved.

The Washington Post notes that, though the report did not specify the country in which the parties took place, a law enforcement official said that they happened in Colombia. The parties reportedly occurred on an ongoing basis between 2005 and 2008. “Although some of the DEA agents participating in these parties denied it, the information in the case file suggested they should have known the prostitutes in attendance were paid with cartel funds,” the report stated.

The above-embedded video by Fox News notes that the report said, “The fact that most of the ‘sex parties’ occurred in government-leased quarters where agents’ laptops, BlackBerry devices, and other government-issued equipment were present created potential security risks for the DEA and for the agents who participated in the parties, potentially exposing them to extortion, blackmail, or coercion.”

The DOJ pointed out the fact that the DEA was uncooperative with the inspector general’s investigation. Said the report, “We were also concerned by an apparent decision by DEA to withhold information regarding a particular open misconduct case… Therefore, we cannot be completely confident that the FBI and DEA provided us with all information relevant to this review. As a result, our report reflects the findings and conclusions we reached based on the information made available to us.”

The report was a part of a wider probe into sexual misconduct and harassment allegations that have been leveled against the FBI, the ATF, the DEA, and the US Marshals Service and included additional reports of inappropriate sexual relationships and conduct by officials at the ATF and US Marshals Service. Investigators also found that DEA, ATF, and FBI officials sometimes chose not to investigate or report allegations of misconduct.

Interestingly, a DEA official told Inspector General Horowitz that DEA agents are sometimes allowed to solicit prostitutes while stationed overseas. The report noted that, according to DEA policy, “prostitution is considered part of the local culture and is tolerated in certain areas called ‘tolerance zones.’”

DEA and ATF officials denied Politico‘s requests for a comment on the matter.

U.S. Marijuana Legalization Weakens Mexican Cartels

According to the FBI’s crime statistics from the last 20 years, half of the drug arrests in the United States have been Marijuana-related. The U.S. Department of Justice reported that a “large portion of the U.S. illegal drug market is controlled directly by Mexican cartels.”

Last week, The Washington Post reported that Marijuana farmers in the Sinaloa region of Mexico have “stopped planting due to a massive drop in wholesale prices, from $100 per kilo down to only $25,” with one farmer saying, “It’s not worth it anymore. I wish the Americans would stop with this legalization.

Sean Dunagan, a former DEA Senior Intelligence Specialist, compared the effect of legalizing marijuana to the effect of legalizing alcohol.

Anything to establish a regulated legal market will necessarily cut into those profits,” said Dunagan. “It won’t be a viable business for the Mexican cartels — the same way bootleggers disappeared after prohibition fell.”

Dunagan spent two years in Mexico, working for DEA Operations, and he claimed there was a “temptation sometimes to prioritize a certain cartel or informant.” He said cartels were aware of this, and that they “exploit the relationship to provide information on their competitors. It creates these perverse incentives — you are investigating what your informant is telling you, not what they are doing.

Is it hurting the cartels? Yes. The cartels are criminal organizations that were making as much as 35-40 percent of their income from marijuana,” retired federal agent, Terry Nelson, told VICE News. “They aren’t able to move as much cannabis inside the US now.

Although Marijuana is legalized in Colorado and Washington, it is still on the federal list of high-priority illegal drugs, and according to Dunagan, even in a state that has legalized marijuana, it is still illegal under federal law.

Dunagan pointed out that, “Technically, a DEA agent could still walk into any marijuana dispensary in Colorado and seize the money, and arrest everyone.” However, instead of doing that, the DEA uses other tactics.

While some doctors in states like Massachusetts have been threatened and told that prescribing medical marijuana will cause them to lose their license to prescribe other drugs, banks have been instructed not work with marijuana facilities.

The DEA doesn’t want the drug war to end,” said Nelson. “If it ends, they don’t get their toys and their budgets. Once it ends, they aren’t going to have the kind of influence in foreign government.

Justice Department Report Blames 4 DEA Agents for Deadly Detention Error

In April of 2012, University of California, San Diego student Daniel Chong was mistakenly picked up during a drug raid. He was detained and taken to a Drug Enforcement Administration facility, where, according to Chong’s testimony, agents told him his detention was a mistake and that he would be released and given a ride home shortly. Then, an agent handcuffed Chong and placed him in a holding cell, telling him, “Hang tight, I’ll come get you in a minute.”

Chong told Inside Edition, “The doors closed and never opened again… until four and a half days later.” For nearly five days, Chong was forgotten by agents in the cell and therefore received no food, water, or restroom breaks. Though four agents did notice his presence in the cell, each of them believed that someone else was going to return for him shortly and took no action.

Subsequently, Chong experienced serious medical and mental health issues that nearly cost him his life. He was left with no choice but to drink his own urine to survive, and, at one point, after being led to believe that no one was going to notice him before he passed away, attempted to carve a good bye note to his mother in his own arm with a shard of broken glass from his damaged eye wear. When he was discovered later by DEA agents that had not been assigned to his case, he was found screaming and covered in his own feces.

Chong was then rushed to the hospital where he was treated for the next five days for a perforated esophagus, dehydration, kidney failure, and cramps. While in custody, he lost fifteen pounds, and he currently suffers from post-traumatic stress disorder.

CNN reported that a settlement was reached in the case, and the DEA has been ordered to pay $4.1 million in damages to Chong, putting US taxpayers on the hook for what Chong’s lawyer Julia Yoo called “a mistake of unbelievable and unimaginable proportions.” Reason published the Justice Department’s newly-released July 2014 report on the incident, which places the blame primarily on the DEA supervisor who failed to provide a system for monitoring the condition of detainees. The report also blames three other agents, two task force officers and a DEA employee, who were responsible for keeping up with Chong. Also, the fact that the supervisor attempted to investigate the incident without reporting to management suggests that there may have been an effort to cover up the mistake. Though the Justice Department report recommends policy adjustments in an effort to prevent further incidents, it does not note whether or not any disciplinary actions will be taken against the DEA officials who left Chong without food, water, or access to a restroom for almost five days.

Said Chong’s lawyer Julia Yoo, “As a result of his case, it’s one of the primary reasons the DEA placed a nationwide policy that calls on each agent at satellite offices to check on the well-being of prisoners in their cells on a daily basis.”