Skip to main content

DEA (Drug Enforcement Administration)

DEA (Drug Enforcement Administration)

The Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) is the lead agency of the United States government for the enforcement of federal statutes on narcotics and controlled substances. Created in 1973, it is a division of the Department of Justice, with offices throughout the United States and in 56 countries. The DEA has numerous enforcement, education, and interdiction programs, an array as varied as the range of illegal drugs and the variety of groups to which they appeal.

Although it exists to enforce the drug laws of the United States, the DEA operates on a worldwide basis. It presents materials to the U.S. civil and criminal justice system, or to any other competent jurisdiction, regarding those individuals and organizations involved in the cultivation, production, smuggling, distribution, or diversion of controlled substances appearing in or destined for illegal traffic in the United States.

The DEA's job is to immobilize those organizations by arresting their members, confiscating their drugs, and seizing their assets. Among its responsibilities are investigation of major narcotics violators operating at the interstate or international levels; seizure of drug-related assets; management of a national narcotics intelligence system; coordination with federal, state, and local law enforcement authorities, as well with counterpart agencies abroad; and training , scientific research, and information exchange in support of prevention and control of drug traffic. Part of these duties involves forensic accounting and forensic investigations of crime scenes.

Exemplifying this role, from its beginning, the DEA was concerned with the collection, analysis, and dissemination of drug-related intelligence through its Operations Division, which supplied federal, state, local, and foreign officials with information. Originally, the agency had just a few intelligence analysts, but as the need grew, so did the staff, such that by the end of the twentieth century, the DEA's intelligence personnelboth analysts and special agentsnumbered nearly 700.

Along the way, demand for drug-related intelligence became so great that the DEA leadership, recognizing how overtaxed the operations division was, in August 1992, created the Intelligence Division. The latter consists of four entities: the Office of Intelligence Liaison and Policy, the Office of Investigative Intelligence, the Office of Intelligence Research, and the Electronic Privacy Information Center (EPIC). The last of these, located in El Paso, Texas, served as a clearinghouse for tactical intelligence (intelligence on which immediate enforcement action can be based) related to worldwide drug movement and smuggling. Eleven federal agencies participate at EPIC in the coordination of intelligence programs related to interdiction.

The DEA also creates, manages, and supports domestic and international enforcement programs aimed at reducing the availability and demand for controlled substances. Among its dozens of programs is Demand Reduction, a program operated by 22 special agents at 21 domestic field divisions to educate youth and communities as a whole, to train lawenforcement personnel, and to encourage drug-free workplaces.

Demand Reduction falls under the heading of the first of three goals the DEA established late in the twentieth century, and toward which it continued to work in the early twenty-first. That first goal is to educate and enable America's youth to reject illegal drugs as well as alcohol and tobacco products. Among the programs in the service of the second goalto increase the safety of America's citizens by substantially reducing drug-related crimeare the Mobile Enforcement Teams, which work to dismantle drug organizations. The third goal, to break foreign and domestic drug sources of supply, places the DEA in collaboration with foreign governments and agencies through programs such as the Northern Border Response Force. The DEA also works with other federal agencies, including the Department of Justice National Drug Intelligence Center. DEA intelligence itself serves this third goal.

see also Evidence; Illicit drugs.

Cite this article
Pick a style below, and copy the text for your bibliography.

  • MLA
  • Chicago
  • APA

"DEA (Drug Enforcement Administration)." World of Forensic Science. . 11 Dec. 2018 <>.

"DEA (Drug Enforcement Administration)." World of Forensic Science. . (December 11, 2018).

"DEA (Drug Enforcement Administration)." World of Forensic Science. . Retrieved December 11, 2018 from

Learn more about citation styles

Citation styles gives you the ability to cite reference entries and articles according to common styles from the Modern Language Association (MLA), The Chicago Manual of Style, and the American Psychological Association (APA).

Within the “Cite this article” tool, pick a style to see how all available information looks when formatted according to that style. Then, copy and paste the text into your bibliography or works cited list.

Because each style has its own formatting nuances that evolve over time and not all information is available for every reference entry or article, cannot guarantee each citation it generates. Therefore, it’s best to use citations as a starting point before checking the style against your school or publication’s requirements and the most-recent information available at these sites:

Modern Language Association

The Chicago Manual of Style

American Psychological Association

  • Most online reference entries and articles do not have page numbers. Therefore, that information is unavailable for most content. However, the date of retrieval is often important. Refer to each style’s convention regarding the best way to format page numbers and retrieval dates.
  • In addition to the MLA, Chicago, and APA styles, your school, university, publication, or institution may have its own requirements for citations. Therefore, be sure to refer to those guidelines when editing your bibliography or works cited list.