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Combatting Illicit Drugs: DEA and ICE Interagency Agreement Has Helped to Ensure Better Coordination of Drug Investigations

NCJ Number
Date Published
July 2011
57 pages
The U.S. General Accountability Office (GAO) determined the extent to which the Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) and the Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) agency have taken actions to implement the cross-designation, deconfliction, and information-sharing provisions of a 2009 Interagency Agreement (Agreement) that outlines the mechanisms to provide ICE with authority to investigate violations of controlled substances laws ("cross-designation"); and this study monitored implementation of the Agreement, with attention to needed adjustments.
GAO found that DEA and ICE have taken actions to implement fully the cross-designation and deconfliction provisions of the Agreement, and the two agencies are finalizing efforts to complete the information-sharing provisions. The Agreement allows ICE to select an unlimited number of agents for cross-designation consideration by DEA. The new process is more streamlined and has resulted in enhanced flexibility in maximizing investigative resources according to ICE officials. Also, DEA and ICE implemented local deconfliction protocols and used a variety of mechanisms to deconflict investigations. Further, in May 2011, DEA and ICE convened the Headquarters Review Team (HRT), which is responsible for resolving deconfliction and coordination issues that cannot be resolved at lower levels. DEA and ICE have conducted ongoing monitoring of the Agreement's implementation through established processes (e.g., supervisory chains of command); and according to officials from these agencies, the HRT did not identify any systemic issues that required its intervention. GAO analyzed documents such as the 2009 Agreement, related interagency agreements, and directives to field offices. GAO also interviewed DEA and ICE Headquarters officials as well as management officials and first-line supervisors in 8 of the 21 DEA and 8 of 26 ICE field offices. 5 tables and 2 figures