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DEA Completes Foreign Operations Review

The threat of illicit foreign drugs to the health and safety of our citizens has never been greater. The Drug Enforcement Administration released the final report of the Foreign Operations Review Team, which contains recommendations to improve the effectiveness and enhance the integrity of DEA’s foreign operations.

The report outlines 17 total recommendations to enhance DEA’s effectiveness and integrity overseas. DEA accepts all of these recommendations and will immediately begin the process of implementing them.

The report is the first of its kind in DEA’s 50-year history and will allow DEA to maximize the impact of its work in 69 countries across the world.

“At this moment in time, DEA’s mission to protect the health and safety of Americans has never been more important,” said DEA Administrator Anne Milgram. “The Sinaloa and Jalisco cartels are operating in more than 40 countries around the world and trafficking fentanyl and methamphetamine that are causing catastrophic harm in communities across the United States. DEA’s international operations are critical to defeat this threat, and we look forward to implementing the independent review team’s recommendations to act as effectively and with as much integrity as possible. DEA appreciates the work of the independent review team, which built on the efforts of the Department of Justice’s Office of the Inspector General.”

Global threats, including international cartels, narco-terrorist violence, and precursor chemicals flowing from other countries, are endangering the health and safety of the American public. Currently, DEA has 93 foreign field offices in 69 countries across the world. These offices have seen an exponential increase of foreign-sourced drugs such as fentanyl, and their resultant danger to American citizens.

In August 2021, DEA requested this comprehensive review, which was led by Jack Lawn, a former DEA Administrator from 1985 to 1990, and Boyd Johnson, a partner at WilmerHale, who previously served as an Assistant United States Attorney and the Deputy United States Attorney in the Southern District of New York, where he led the International Narcotics Trafficking Unit and Public Integrity Unit.

Over the past year, DEA has already instituted a number of changes consistent with the independent review team’s recommendations, and will undertake additional initiatives to make sure the agency’s work has the appropriate structures and internal controls in place.

DEA has made a “One DEA” approach our priority—sharing information and improving coordination across the agency to adapt to the rapidly evolving drug threats facing our nation. DEA has created Counter Threat Teams targeting the Sinaloa and Jalisco cartels, so that all of DEA can work relentlessly to defeat them. DEA is building new technology to support our mission in all 334 offices worldwide. DEA has also updated our hiring policies, heightened our disciplinary standards, and established metrics to inform performance evaluations and improve the accountability of our workforce. DEA is committed to meeting the challenges presented by today’s global drug threats and ensuring that our work is conducted at the highest level possible.

See the full DEA Foreign Review Report online.

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