Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA)

Bureau of International Narcotics and Law Enforcement Affairs

The majority of illicit drugs distributed and consumed in America originate in foreign countries. DEA’s mission is to enforce the controlled substances laws and regulations of the United States. In furtherance of this mission, DEA targets the cultivation, production, transportation, distribution and financial operations of Drug Trafficking Organizations (DTOs) based in foreign nations and at home. In order to dismantle and disrupt DTOs, DEA and other U.S. agencies work hand in hand with our foreign law enforcement counterparts.

DEA establishes and maintains working relationships with host nations by staffing 86 DEA offices located in 67 countries. DEA’s foreign offices act as conduits of information to DEA components in the United States and vice versa. In this manner, investigators are able to target DTOs from the source to the end user. DEA’s foreign offices are tasked with the following objectives:

  • Conduct bilateral investigations with foreign law enforcement;
  • Coordinate counternarcotic intelligence gathering with host governments;
  • Conduct training programs for host country police agencies;
  • Assist in the development of host country drug law enforcement institutions and develop mutually beneficial law enforcement relationships with foreign law enforcement agencies.

The emphasis placed on each objective is determined by the host nation’s unique conditions and circumstances as it relates to their infrastructure and law enforcement capabilities. DEA works side by side with host nation counterparts to develop relevant training, promote intelligence sharing, and support joint operations. The following information highlights the assistance and joint enforcement efforts undertaken by DEA and host nation counterparts in 2013.

Drug Flow Attack Strategy: A key element in combating international drug trafficking is the concerted and coordinated efforts of the inter-agency community to jointly identify chokepoints vulnerable to enforcement efforts and simultaneously direct assets to vigorously target the identified chokepoints on a coordinated and sustained basis. To this end, DEA developed an International Drug Flow Attack Strategy which has the primary objective to cause major disruption to the flow of drugs, money, and chemicals between the source zones and the United States. The strategy includes an integrated intelligence-enforcement process that rests on multiple pillars: intelligence-driven enforcement, sequential operations, and predictive intelligence. To stem the flow of drugs into the United States, DEA will continue to implement this successful Drug Flow Attack Strategy by expanding enforcement initiatives with our global law enforcement partners

International Drug Enforcement Conference (IDEC) in Support of Strengthening International Relations: IDEC was established by DEA in 1983 with the objective of creating a forum for the international community to share drug-related intelligence and to develop operational strategies that can be used to combat transnational, organized criminal organizations involved in the illicit drug trade. Representatives from over 100 countries are participating members of IDEC, and the conference is co-sponsored by the United States and one of the international participating members each year. It is an operational conference where critical and sensitive issues in international drug enforcement, money laundering, and narco-terrorism are discussed, and operational targets are selected. Recent IDEC meetings have included sessions on the use of the Internet by drug traffickers, Africa’s emergence as a global threat in drug trafficking, precursor chemical control, the drug flow attack strategy, and money laundering. The 2013 conference was co-hosted by the Government of the Russian Federation. Regional working groups were held to identify collective targets and goals. Members provided briefings on current investigations related to their collective targets and assessed their progress and evaluated their intelligence on existing and new targets planned for the year ahead.

International Training: DEA has been conducting international counter-narcotics training since 1969. DEA is recognized as the world pioneer in international training and serves as the model for a variety of international law enforcement training efforts. DEA's role has grown to include that of international consultant to law enforcement agencies, as well as foreign governments seeking to develop quality narcotics law enforcement programs, organizational infrastructures, and judicial reforms. The specific courses offered by DEA are continually changing as new curricula are developed and instituted in response to experiences, changes in law enforcement emphasis, current international narcotics trafficking situations, new technologies, and specific requests of the host governments. All DEA international training programs have as a major objective the building of regional working relationships between countries. In 2013, DEA conducted bilateral training seminars for approximately 14,070 participants from 94 countries.

The Special Testing and Research Laboratory Signature Programs: The Heroin and Cocaine Signature Programs (HSP/CSP) at the DEA’s Special Testing and Research Laboratory are intelligence gathering, science-based initiatives which determine the geographic origins of heroin and cocaine exhibits. In addition, the laboratory maintains a Methamphetamine Profiling Program (MPP) that determines the synthetic routes and precursors employed in producing methamphetamine. The classification schemes for these programs were developed using authentic exhibits collected from world-wide drug processing laboratories. By collaborating with the host nations, hundreds of such authentics are submitted annually to the laboratory from the DEA foreign country offices. Currently, the laboratory classifies more than 7000 U.S.-seized and foreign drug exhibits every year. The Signature Programs provide the counterdrug intelligence community with science-based heroin and cocaine source data and intelligence information regarding methamphetamine synthesis. The HSP, CSP, and the MPP are viewed as crucial tools to investigate and support strategic intelligence regarding illicit production, trafficking, and availability of these three high profile drugs within the United States and foreign countries.