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12-29-2005, 16:41 #1
DEA Highlights Yearâ€™s Accomplishments
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
December 28, 2005
Drug Enforcement Administration Highlights Yearâ€™s Accomplishments
(Washington, D.C.) In 2005, the Drug Enforcement Administration has continued to effectively adapt to the increasingly complex challenges that face modern-day drug enforcement. While it is difficult to exactly quantify the progress made in a given year, the DEA is proud to share the news of some of our important successes of 2005 with the American public. Achieving such progress on this important national issue is encouraging news for us all.
The range of DEAâ€™s accomplishments â€“ from stripping drug criminals of their exorbitant profits, to shutting down illegal internet â€œpharmacies,â€ to completing a huge nationwide methamphetamine sweep resulting in more than 400 arrests - indicates that while the current drug situation certainly remains difficult and complex, the DEA has developed equally complex and highly effective strategies to combat even the most sophisticated traffickers.
Listed below are Drug Enforcement Administration successes from Fiscal Year 2005. They are divided into categories that reflect the top priorities of the agency: financial investigations and investigations of money laundering organizations; pursuing internet drug traffickers; arresting, indicting, and extraditing members of large drug organizations; investigating those who use drug profits to fund terrorist activities and also assisting law enforcement officers in countries that have been victimized by terrorist groups; assisting local law enforcement officers in the United States; and reaching out to the American public to increase awareness about drugs and drug abuse.
Financial and Money Laundering Operations:
DEA Operations stripped drug traffickers of nearly $1.9 billion in drug proceeds. This includes $1.4 billion in asset seizures and $477 million in drug seizures.
Investigations that began as â€œfollowing the moneyâ€ led to the seizure of 947 kilograms of cocaine, 21,650 pounds of marijuana, and 7 kilograms of heroin.
In July, 2005, the DEA announced the â€œMoney Trail Initiative.â€ This initiative highlights the large scale impact of DEA-led financial investigations on major drug organizations. To date, the DEA has seized more than $36.2 million in proceeds that traffickers are trying to smuggle from the U.S. to where the drug organizations are located.
As a result of the â€œMoney Trail Initiative,â€ there have been 230 arrests and seizures of 181 vehicles, 72 firearms, and more than 3,400 pounds of cocaine.
The DEA conducted Operation Mallorca, multi-jurisdictional OCDETF money laundering operation which identified four Colombian-based money brokers who laundered $12 million in illicit drug proceeds through the Colombian Black Market Peso Exchange (BMPE). The BMPE is a system where drug traffickers sell drug proceeds in U.S. dollars to brokers for pesos. The investigation resulted in the arrest of 81 individuals and the seizure of $7.8 million
Internet Drug Trafficking:
In combating the recent development of traffickers selling prescription drugs over the internet, the DEA seized over $21.6 million in cash, property, computers and bank accounts.
The DEA announced the Virtual Enforcement Initiative (VEI). The first major operation of this new initiative was Operation â€œCyber Chase,â€ which, in April, resulted in the identification of over 200 web sites that illegally sold pharmaceutical drugs. Because of this year-long Organized Crime Drug Enforcement Task Force (OCDETF) operation, more than 20 criminals were arrested in eight U.S. cities and four foreign countries. Until they were arrested, these â€œe-traffickersâ€ had been operating in the United States, India, Asia, Europe and the Caribbean, and were using their rogue pharmacies to distribute drugs world-wide.
Another VEI Operation, CYBERx, for the first time targeted e-trafficking located solely within the United States. The alleged drug dealers who operated these rogue internet pharmacies received prescription orders for controlled substances over the Internet, which were then shipped to the doors of many U.S. citizens-sometimes without any prescription needed. These alleged criminal pharmaceutical drug traffickers had averaged more than $50,000 a day in profits from their illegal Internet based enterprise.
Operation Gear Grinder, a 21-month OCDETF investigation, targeted eight major Mexican steroid manufacturing companies, their owners, and their trafficking associates. DEA intelligence analysts and diversion investigators found that 82 percent of the steroids seized and analyzed are of Mexican origin. A large majority of those steroids originated from the eight companies identified in Operation Gear Grinder. These businesses conducted their sales via the Internet, and DEA estimates their combined total U.S. steroid sales are $56 million per year.
The DEA conducted and led the first nationally-coordinated methamphetamine sweep in more than 200 cities in the U.S. Operation Wildfire resulted in more than 427 arrests and the seizure of more than 208 pounds of meth. In addition, Operation Wildfire resulted in the seizure of: 56 clandestine labs, 200,000 pseudoephedrine tablets, 524 pounds of precursor chemicals, 123 weapons, 28 vehicles and $255,000 in US currency. Also, because of Operation Wildfire, 30 children were rescued from methamphetamine-infested housing.
In July 2005, after a joint U.S.-Canadian law enforcement investigation using delayed notice search warrants, the DEA discovered the first tunnel between Canada and the U.S. constructed to traffic illegal drugs. The tunnel, stretching from British Columbia, Canada, into Washington State, was 360 feet long and 3 to 10 feet in depth. Three people were apprehended trying to transport marijuana and ecstasy through the tunnel. DEA oversaw the destruction of the illegal underground tunnel.
The RODRIGUEZ-Orejuela brothers, founders of the notorious Cali Cartel, were extradited from Colombia to the United States. The Cali Cartel was the worldâ€™s chief supplier of cocaine in the 1990s and earned and trafficked an estimated $8 billion of drugs a year. Gilberto RODRIGUEZ-Orejuela was extradited on December 4, 2004 and his brother Miguel RODRIGUEZ-Orejuela, was extradited on March 11, 2005. The RODRIGUEZ-Orejuela brothers had been indicted as the result of OCDETF investigations conducted by the DEA offices in New York, Miami, and BogotÃ¡.
This year, DEA dismantled over 1,007 Priority Target Organizations, an 82 percent increase over FY 2004.
War on Terror:
During FY 2005, DEA disrupted 8 and dismantled 2 Priority Target Organizations (PTOâ€™s) with links to terrorist organizations.
The DEA, for the first time ever, deployed Foreign Advisory Support Teams (FAST) to Afghanistan, in order to help the Afghan government become self-reliant in counter drug enforcement.
The DEA extradited the first Afghani narcotics trafficker, Haji Baz Mohammed, to the Southern District of New York for prosecution. Mohammed was indicted in 2004 as part of a New York DEA led investigation. Mohammed was designated by President Bush on June 1, 2005 as a kingpin under the Foreign Narcotics Kingpin Designation Act.
An investigation led by the DEA resulted in the arrest of Bashir Noorzai, who is known to have provided weapons and manpower to the Taliban in exchange for the protection of his drug crops in Afghanistan.
The DEA helped to arrest Abdul Malik (aka Abdul Mohammad), a member of Hezb-e-islami-a fundamentalist Islamic terrorist group-for the murder of two Afghani narcotics officers.
The DEA has trained over 128 Counter Narcotic Police in Afghanistan. (12 are women)
Two Fuerzas Armadas Revolucionarias de Colombia (FARC) finance officers were extradited from Colombia to the U.S. to face charges on drug trafficking, money laundering and providing material support to terrorism.
Assisting Local Law Enforcement:
The DEA assisted in the rescue and cleanup efforts in the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina. DEAâ€™s Air Wing, along with the Dallas, Houston, Atlanta, St. Louis, and Miami Field Divisions collectively deployed 113 special agents and special agent/pilots to provide assistance to 13 law enforcement agencies in Louisiana, Mississippi, and Alabama. DEA Special Agents provided patrol assistance on a rotating basis in 21-day shifts. As of September 19, 2005, the DEA Air Wing transported 70,000 pounds of supplies and equipment (including but not limited to night vision goggles, guns, and ammunition) to perform law enforcement and search and rescue efforts for DEA employees and Louisiana and Mississippi hurricane victims. DEA special agents worked with hospitals to transport medicine to law enforcement personnel to combat hepatitis A and B. These provisions allowed DEA and law enforcement partners to sustain their rescue missions. DEA partnered with Texas and Arkansas pharmacy boards on emergency prescription refill procedures in response to requests from Louisiana, Mississippi, and Alabama. DEA assisted with 24-hour security patrols and ultimately rescued over 3,340 civilians including over 70 abandoned elderly residents at a flooded nursing home.
To meet local law enforcement needs, DEA secured 130 cars through the asset forfeiture fund and loaned them to local law enforcement departments that lost their vehicles. DEA also provided drug enforcement training to 40,000 state and local police officers in FY 2005. This training included Clandestine Laboratory Training, Diversion Training, Drug Unit Commanders Training, Federal Law Enforcement Analyst Training, Narcotics Commander Leadership Training, and other DEA tactical and in-service related training.
Outreach and Public Awareness:
In 2005, DEA provided victim, witness, and drug-endangered children awareness training to over 9,000 recipients, including DEA Basic Agent classes and the clandestine lab training unit, domestic offices, nationwide conferences, and over 20 organizations.
The DEA developed and launched a public website for teens that provides information on the consequences of drugs to users and non-users and gives teens the tools they need to make sound decisions to reject drugs. Included in www.justthinktwice.com is information on methamphetamine, prescription drugs, drugged driving, drug endangered children, marijuana, drug legalization, federal penalties for drug trafficking, real life stories, and many other topics. During the first month of operation, 300,000 Internet users accessed the site.