Home News IG Report: Incredible DEA missteps leaving drug seizures open to theft

IG Report: Incredible DEA missteps leaving drug seizures open to theft

Cocaine bricks. Image credit: DEA
Cocaine bricks. Image credit: DEA

In findings released this week — the Justice Dept’s inspector general said that the Drug Enforcement Administration is leaving its drug seizures “vulnerable to theft or tampering.”

The DEA is not properly “documenting, tracking or relocating” its intake of seized drugs, according to the report.

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The theft and tampering of the illicit drugs –or exhibits– is more likely to occur in transit. The IG found that nearly 70 percent of drug seizures examined were placed in temporary storage for more than the maximum of three days. During that period, the drug “exhibits” are not entered into the comprehensive tracking system, and the DEA is not properly tracking the third-party shipping vendors. Those vendors are required when the lab the seizures are sent to is far enough away, according to Government Executive.

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Another concern that was raised in the report involved the DEA’s missing documentation. In nine percent of the cases investigated by the IG, the agency could not find their DEA-12’s, or the formal receipt that tracks incoming drug seizures.

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“Gaps in the formal documentation of the chain of custody for drug exhibits can compromise the security of the drugs and jeopardize the government’s ability to use the evidence in court proceedings,” the IG said.

On more than half of their DEA-6 forms, which are the “reports of investigation,” agents did not record the full information relating to the exhibits. Things like- total weight of the drugs, or witness of the seizure- were left off the form.

These are important details that ensure “the integrity of the exhibit for prosecution, minimize suspicions regarding the theft or loss of drugs during the seizure process and provide a benchmark for future weight calculations,” the IG said.

The agency has agreed to address all nine of the recommendations made by the inspector general.

You can view the full report here.

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