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Confidence lacking after DEA’s failures

“We found that DEA was slow to respond to the significant increase in the use and diversion of opioids since 2000.”

This week the Inspector General for the U.S. Department of Justice released a summary of its look at the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration’s pathetic response to the beginnings of a plague that affects virtually every part of the United States.

A report from the inspector general concludes that DEA officials failed miserably in their mission to “enforce the controlled substances laws and regulations of the United States and bring to the criminal and civil justice system of the United States, or any other competent jurisdiction, those organizations and principal members of organizations, involved in the growing, manufacture or distribution of controlled substances appearing in or destined for illicit traffic in the United States; and to recommend and support non-enforcement programs aimed at reducing the availability of illicit controlled substances on the domestic and international markets.

“We also found that DEA did not use its available resources, including its data systems and strongest administrative enforcement tools, to detect and regulate diversion effectively,” the review adds.

That is one federal agency talking about another, mind you. Language might be stronger were they not all made from the same bureaucratic mold. The rest of us might say the DEA chose not to do its job, and turned a blind eye to criminal activity that is still killing people about whom the federal government has proved many times it does not care.

“From 2003 through 2013 DEA was authorizing manufacturers to produce substantially larger amounts of opioids,” the review emphasized. “It was not until 2017 that DEA significantly reduced the (aggregate production quota) for oxycodone by 25 percent.”

During fiscal 2019, the DEA’s budget totaled $3.136 billion. If the DEA is that incompetent and that far behind in chasing the evolution of this particular scourge, why should Americans (particularly members of Congress) be confident the agency is earning its keep in fighting … well, anything?

editorial@tribtoday.com