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The Drug War: Where the Money Goes

A detailed look at which government agencies get what funds

General Barry McCaffreyGeneral Barry McCaffrey

US Director of National Drug Control Policy retired General Barry McCaffrey briefs reporters 01 April at the White House about a recent trip to Mexico, April 1st, 1996


The War on Drugs is a vast enterprise. Virtually every agency of the U.S. government has a piece of it, from the Pentagon and the Coast Guard to the National Park Service and the Bureau of Indian Affairs. Yet unlike a real war, the crusade against drugs has no central command, no coordinated intelligence effort and very little accountability. Literally hundreds of thousands of federal-government employees are mobilized in the effort –— often performing their parts superbly —– and, as the following report shows, each agency wins its share of tactical victories. But overall, viewed from a strategic standpoint, the War on Drugs has little to show for itself. Millions of hard-core drug users continue to have untrammeled access to heroin, cocaine and other substances, while more than 100,000 Americans are arrested every month in an unending procession into prisons and jails.

Gen. Barry McCaffrey is the director of the White House’s Office of National Drug Control Policy. Usually he is called the drug “czar.” Yet he and his small staff, of about 150, are the first ones to admit that they have nothing resembling the autocratic powers of Russian monarchs. While McCaffrey provides a modicum of interdepartmental planning, his office gets by on a paltry budget of just $36 million. Almost all of the proposed $16 billion War on Drugs budget for next year will be spent by Cabinet departments, sub-Cabinet offices and a handful of independent U.S. agencies that don’t report to McCaffrey. What officials of these agencies pay attention to is Congress: Specifically, they bow down before one of 13 congressional appropriations committees which hold the purse strings for every part of the federal government. In Congress, the War on Drugs is golden; Republican skinflints eager to cut government spending make an exception for drug warriors, so if you happen to run a federal agency, it’s a big plus to underline the important work you are doing to fight the scourge of illegal drugs.

One sign of where the priorities are: The biggest chunk of the $16 billion, fully one-eighth of the entire War on Drugs budget, goes to the Justice Department’s Bureau of Prisons. And that $2 billion is just the federal share; it doesn’t include the $5 billion or more spent by states and local governments to jail drug offenders.

Another thing that stands out is that Washington agencies involved in the drug crusade dole out billions of dollars to the states in the form of block grants and other monies with little oversight and often with no strings attached. The Department of Education, the National Institute on Drug Abuse, the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration, the Department of Housing and Urban Development, the Justice Department’s Office of Justice Programs and other agencies provide a steady stream of pork to state and local governments, researchers, law enforcement, community organizations and the like. Some of it is vital and necessary, and some of it is wasted, but few in Congress question where the money goes, since no one wants to be accused of being soft on drugs. So it flows.

Case in point: Some years ago, the drug-czar’s office created five special task forces, called High-Intensity Drug Trafficking Area units, to coordinate anti-drug work in New York, Miami and other severely affected regions. Each year, more HIDTAs have been created; there are now 15 of them across the country. Only, no one asks: Do we really need these things?

Not only that, no one asks the more basic question: Who’s in charge? Besides the HIDTAs, there are Organized Crime/Drug Enforcement task forces, there is the FBI, there is the Drug Enforcement Agency, there are regional task forces, the police —– and on and on. The rule seems to be: Why have one anti-drug enforcement unit when you can have six or seven? Several years ago, a seemingly sensible proposal to merge the DEA with the FBI was ignored, thanks to bureaucratic inertia, so today the DEA and the FBI each spend about $1 billion a year on fighting drugs. Ditto for intelligence: There are more than a dozen “intelligence centers” that concern themselves with the War on Drugs. Somehow, despite the confusion, the military, the Customs Service, the Coast Guard, the DEA, the Border Police, the FBI, and the Immigration and Naturalization Service manage to sit cheek by jowl along America’s southern border.

What follows is a comprehensive accounting of Washington’s attempts to rid the nation of illegal drugs, a sprawling effort encompassing 44 federal agencies, which are listed in order of their proposed ’98 budgets, from largest to smallest.

Bureau of Prisons
Fiscal Year ’97: $1.96 billion; FY ’98: $2.02 billion

The largest single component of the War on Drugs – one-eighth of total spending – is absorbed by the Federal Bureau of Prisons, a Justice Department agency that operates 90 facilities nationwide. More than 109,000 prisoners are held in federal penitentiaries, federal correctional institutions, prison camps, medical centers and contract facilities, approximately 60 percent of them for drug offenses; just 15 years ago, only one-fourth of the 28,000 federal prisoners were held on drug charges.

Thirty percent of inmates are addicted or drug-dependent, and in 1996 at least 12,000 inmates passed through the bureau’s drug-education program, a 30- to 40-hour course run by drug-treatment specialists from the Psychological Services Department. Another 7,000 hard-core drug users volunteered for an intensive residential program lasting six to 12 months, and they usually lived in a separate, segregated unit or cellblock. Though funds for drug treatment are severely lacking in state and local prisons and jails, everyone in federal facilities who requests treatment gets it, says Bureau spokeswoman Beth Weinman. But, she adds, “We don’t do methadone maintenance in prisons. Don’t forget, these people are criminals.” For ’98, the Bureau of Prisons is requesting $94 million for new prison construction to house drug offenders, which would create 1,216 additional beds.

Substance abuse and Mental Health Services Administration
FY ’97: $1.3 billion; FY ’98: $1.33 billion

Few Americans have heard of SAMHSA, part of the Department of Health and Human Services, but in the War on Drugs, SAMHSA’s budget is 23 percent larger than that of the Drug Enforcement Administration. Yet, because it is the federal government’s primary vehicle to support drug-treatment and -prevention programs, some argue that it needs to be expanded. From 1996 to ’97, the agency grew by nearly 20 percent, and this year it will distribute $966 million in block grants to the states and another $312 million in what SAMHSA calls Knowledge Development and Application grants. Most of the block grants go to the states to support new or existing drug-treatment facilities, clinics, prevention programs, maternal and child-care units and HIV/AIDS programs. Cost per person treated per year: $2,218.

Department of Veterans Affairs
FY ’97: $1.13 billion; FY ’98: $1.18 billion

Last year, nearly 200,000 veterans with serious drug- and alcohol-abuse problems were treated by the Veterans Health Administration, part of the Department of Veterans Affairs. Across the country, the VA operates 170 medical centers, outpatient clinics and other healthcare facilities, and most all maintain a substance-abuse treatment capability. In ’96 that effort absorbed more than $1 billion, divided about 60 percent to 40 percent between inpatient drug treatment and outpatient care in clinics, halfway houses and an organized residential rehabilitation program.

Drug Enforcement Administration
FY ’97: $1.05 billion; FY ’98: $1.15 billion

The billion-dollar DEA, a Justice Department agency, is the nerve center of America’s War on Drugs. In the ’90s, the DEA’s budget doubled from $540 million in 1990 to the $1.15 billion proposed for 1998. The DEA is a worldwide operation, with headquarters in Washington, offices spread throughout 20 domestic field divisions and 71 offices in 44 countries, along with the El Paso, Texas, Intelligence Center and a brand-new, $29 million training facility in Quantico, Va. The DEA operates its own laboratories, currently undergoing a $21 million renovation, and has its own “air force,” a fleet of 90 planes based at the DEA Aviation Operations Center, in Fort Worth, Texas. The bulk of DEA’s work is breaking international drug-trafficking organizations in Colombia, Mexico and Southeast Asia, and tracking their connections to U.S. drug-distribution rings.

For ’98, the DEA’s budget is expected to rise by about $100 million. A big chunk of the increase will support 192 new DEA staff along the U.S.-Mexico border, at a cost of $30 million. Other new staff will concentrate on domestic methamphetamine production ($11 million) and heroin ($5 million). Another $33 million will be spent in ’98 to upgrade the DEA’s infrastructure, mostly for computers and aircraft.

Fighting drugs is expensive. A single investigation, code-named Zorro II, ended last year with the arrest of 156 traffickers in California, Illinois and Texas, and the seizure of more than 6 tons of cocaine. The operations, which depended largely on wiretaps, involved more than 103,000 hours of work by DEA special agents and 10,300 hours by intelligence analysts. Cost: $13 million.

Federal Bureau of Investigation
FY ’97: $817 million; FY ’98: $865 million

Fifty-six FBI field offices, 400 satellite offices and 21 foreign-liaison posts in U.S. embassies around the world contribute to the FBI’s drug-enforcement efforts, which are led by the Organized Crime/Drug Program office in the Criminal Investigative Division of the FBI at its Washington, D.C., headquarters. Part of the Justice Department, the FBI’s priorities include going after both violent gangs engaged in trafficking and a wide range of international crime syndicates, including La Cosa Nostra; organized-crime groups in Central and South America and the Caribbean; a score of Mexican drug organizations; Asian cartels like the Chinese triads; and many others, including the rapidly growing Russian mafia. About 400 separate investigations into Mexican criminal enterprises alone are currently active at the FBI, along with 1,137 into other international crime groups and 1,851 relating to street gangs, including outlaw motorcycle gangs, the Los Angeles-based Bloods and Crips, and Jamaican drug organizations.

New for ’98 will be another $14.2 million to beef up the FBI’s work along the Southwest border, adding 69 people, and $2.6 million to attach FBI agents to DEA offices in Mexico. A huge chunk of the FBI’s drug-related spending – $30 million this year and $40 million next year – is devoted to upgrading technology, in partnership with telephone companies, to enhance the FBI’s ability to conduct wiretaps.

Office of Justice Programs
FY ’97: $797 million; FY ’98: $815 million

About one out of every 20 dollars that the federal government spends in the War on Drugs flows through the Justice Department’s Office of Justice Programs, an umbrella agency of bureaus that together will spend $797 million on hundreds of separate programs, grants, research projects and anti-crime initiatives.

OJP funnels huge sums to state and local governments to assist law-enforcement agencies, prosecutors, courts, prisons and others; in ’97, it is more than $600 million. That sum includes $30 million to support local drug courts; $11.5 million to create a high-tech drug information system for four Southwest-border states; $28.5 million for the inner-city Weed and Seed program, designed to remove drug offenders from neighborhoods and assist community-renewal efforts; $1.75 million for the Drug Abuse Resistance Education program’s five national training centers; funds for more than 1,000 multijurisdictional drug task forces; and hundreds of millions of dollars in block grants. The state of Illinois, for instance, gets more than $51 million this year under eight separate OJP programs.

A major focus of the Office of Justice’s grants is the mobilization of communities against drugs through programs like National Night Out. Sixteen cities received grants in ’97 under the Comprehensive Communities Program, including Atlanta, Baltimore, Denver, Omaha, Neb., and Phoenix, for programs ranging from antidrug marches and candlelight vigils to gang intervention, drug courts and alternatives to incarceration.

Department of Defense
FY ’97: $957 million; FY ’98: $809 million

Of the $250 billion Pentagon budget, just four-tenths of 1 percent is for counter-drug work, totaling more than $957 million this year (which includes $75 million to drug-test its own personnel). That sum supports a network of ships, planes, radar systems, intelligence centers and command posts that rings U.S. borders from the Atlantic to the Caribbean to the Pacific and reaches deep into South America. Yet the Pentagon’s interdiction effort is a near-impossible mission: While smugglers once flew all their cargo from Colombia right into Florida, they now rely on a wide array of land, sea and air routes.

The Pentagon divides its drug-interdiction work into two parts: “transit zones,” meaning the areas through which drug traffickers must pass to get their product into the United States, and “source countries,” such as Colombia, Peru and Bolivia. In ’97, $304 million will be spent on detection and monitoring of drug flow through the transit zones, especially the Caribbean, Central America and Mexico, and $181 million will be spent on source-country support measures. The Defense Department’s Joint Interagency Task Force uses ships and planes to track potential smugglers and coordinates with U.S. Customs and the Coast Guard to intercept them. In ’97, the DOD will log 1,731 ship days and 54,000 flight hours watching for drug traffickers.

There are five components to the DOD’s surveillance system. First are two enormous over-the-horizon radar systems called ROTHRS, each made up of acres of antennae, transmitters and receivers linked to computer systems, in Virginia and Texas; a third will soon be added, in Puerto Rico. Each ROTHR can “see” deep into the Atlantic Ocean and the Caribbean.

Next is a network of aerostats –— large, airborne, blimplike systems that use radar to detect low-flying aircraft. At a cost of $3 million each —– including spares, since they tend to blow away in strong winds – there are two in Arizona, one in New Mexico, four in Texas, one in Louisiana, two in Florida and one in Puerto Rico, along with several in the southern Caribbean.

Then, the Pentagon operates a fleet of $180 million AWACS aircraft and $51 million E-2C Hawkeye surveillance and command-and-control planes that can eavesdrop on traffickers; a network of mobile ground-radar systems in Peru and Colombia; and the Caribbean Basin Radar Network. All of this, including data from the ROTHRS and aerostats, feeds into Pentagon intelligence centers and the aerial-surveillance headquarters, run by Customs in California. Claiming success in limiting drug trafficking by air (particularly with Operation Laser Strike, which targets the “air bridge” from Peru’s coca fields to Colombia’s cocaine factories), the military is concentrating now on helping South American countries crack down on riverine transport. It is a daunting task: More than 200,000 miles of navigable rivers crisscross the rain forests of Peru, Brazil and their neighbors. Recent reports, by the General Accounting Office and others, say that these efforts have barely dented cocaine production.

The DOD also is spending $322 million this year to support domestic law-enforcement agencies, more than half of which, $185 million, is funneled through the National Guard. Four thousand National Guard personnel conduct 1,300 anti-drug missions each day nationwide, often working closely with the FBI, local and state police, and other agencies. The Pentagon also supplies intelligence to law enforcement: $41 million worth of electronic-communications intercepts by the National Security Agency and top-secret satellite imagery from the National Reconnaissance Office, along with data from 349 Pentagon intelligence analysts.

Department of Education
FY ’97: $679 million; FY ’98: $747 million

With politicians trading accusations about who is to blame for a reported rise in drug use among children and teenagers, it is no wonder that the Department of Education is beefing up its budget for drug-education and -prevention activities in schools. In 1996, the department’s Safe and Drug-Free Schools and Communities program funneled $441 million to 50 states, the District of Columbia and various U.S. territories, and American Indian tribes; in ’97, they got $531 million; and have requested $590 million for ’98.

Among the most controversial beneficiaries of the Department of Education’s largess is Drug Abuse Resistance Education, which uses federal, state and local money, private funds and volunteers to get police officers into schools for drug-education sessions. No one, including the Department of Education, knows how much money goes into DARE, since state governments get Uncle Sam’s money and parcel it out to local school districts – which are then free to spend it as they choose, on DARE or other programs. Yet, estimates are that DARE absorbs from $200 million to $600 million a year.

U.S. Customs Service
FY ’97: $609 million; FY ’98: $641 million

With 17,000 employees overseeing 300 ports of entry nationwide, U.S. Customs, an arm of the Treasury Department, routinely seizes more drugs than all other government agencies combined; in ’96, Customs grabbed nearly 120 tons of cocaine and 390 tons of marijuana. Along with the drugs, the agency seized 235 vessels, 35 aircraft, 12,300 vehicles and $235 million in cash. The $1.6 billion agency devotes two-fifths of its resources to drug-control work.

Concentrating its anti-drug efforts along the Southwest border, the Caribbean and southern Florida, plus Puerto Rico and the U.S. Virgin Islands, Customs deploys an array of personnel and technology. On the stretch of border from San Diego to southern Texas, nearly 3 million trucks, 84 million cars and 232 million people enter the United States every year. Anti-drug techniques include random inspections; “block blitzes,” in which Customs inspectors conduct detailed searches of whole lines of traffic; and searches that result from specific intelligence information.

Recently, Customs has begun deploying huge, $3 million truck X-ray devices “that look like big truck washes,” says spokeswoman Layne Lathram. Three are now in use – in Otay Mesa and Calexico, Calif., and El Paso, Texas – and four more are on the way. In addition, for ’98, Customs is seeking $4.7 million to install automated license-plate scanners and upgrade its computer systems. Already in use are trucks that carry inspection tools and equipment that can take apart heavy machinery and other cargo thought to conceal narcotics. And at high-risk border crossings, Customs has spent millions of dollars to install pneumatic and hydraulic barriers and tire-deflating devices known as “stop sticks” to foil “port runners,” those who crash or speed through ports of entry.

The showpiece of the Customs Service is the Domestic Air Interdiction Coordination Center, near Riverside, Calif. The Center brings together an astonishing complex of radar and computer technology that provides round-the-clock radar surveillance of the entire U.S. southern tier, from Southern California to Florida and the Caribbean, and reaching into Mexico. The system combines Defense Department and Federal Aviation Administration radar data with computerized records of flight plans for all aircraft scheduled for flights in the covered areas, to allow instant detection and tracking of illegal aircraft entering the United States. Within eight minutes, Customs can launch Cessna Citations, supported by $51.8 million P-3 AEW radar aircraft, to follow suspicious aircraft, which are then intercepted when they land by teams of armed Customs officers.

The Federal Judiciary
FY ’97: $539 million; FY ’98: $621 million

It’s no exaggeration to say that drug cases are swamping the federal courts: 26 percent of all criminal cases filed in federal courts in 1996 were drug-related. “Drug cases usually involve multiple defendants; they are more work; they take longer; and there are more people involved,” says Karen Redmond, spokeswoman for the Administrative Office of the U.S. Courts. “There’s this whole wave effect.” The vast majority of the $539 million in ’97 is going into salaries and expenses for judges and their staff; the 825 federal judges earn up to $141,700 per year, plus an annual cost-of-living increase. Another $83 million goes to hire public defenders for drug offenders, and jury fees cost the judiciary another $21 million. Drug treatment and testing for defendants absorbs $65 million.

Ironically, despite their preoccupation with drug cases, federal judges are hamstrung by legislated requirements that impose mandatory minimum sentences in many cases. The federal judiciary, and most federal judges, strongly opposes mandatory minimum sentencing laws, which they view as an unfair and unwarranted intrusion on a judge’s discretion.

National Institute on Drug Abuse
FY ’97: $515 million; FY ’98: $549 million

The National Institute on Drug Abuse, part of the National Institutes of Health, supports 85 percent of all the research in the world done on drug abuse and addiction. The centerpiece of NIDA’s work is its examination of precisely how specific drugs affect the brain and nervous system. NIDA is funding research that might eventually lead to science-based prevention and treatment methods, including a long-sought “cocaine blocker” that could reduce an addict’s craving for the drug. Among its thousands of grants, NIDA is supporting 13 studies on the use of needle-exchange programs, including a $2.4 million study of 1,100 drug users in Anchorage, Alaska. Advocates say that such programs, which allow intravenous drug users access to clean, sterilized syringes, can prevent diseases like hepatitis and AIDS. Another recent study, completed by researchers at Harvard Medical School, looked at 8,000 twins and, by showing that identical twins had similar reactions to smoking marijuana while fraternal twins did not, concluded that there is a genetic basis for the effect of marijuana on individuals.

Office of Community Oriented Policing Services
FY ’97: $469 million; FY ’98: $510 million

The COPS program, part of the U.S. Department of Justice, was created in 1994 by anti-crime legislation backed by President Clinton, who had pledged to put 100,000 new police officers on America’s streets. Today, some $4 billion later, more than 65,000 police officers and sheriff’s deputies have been hired by many of the approximately 16,000 state, county and municipal law-enforcement agencies funded by COPS.

U.S. Coast Guard
FY ’97: $336 million; FY ’98: $389 million

Close to 8 percent of the agency’s $3.8 billion budget in ’97, about $336 million, was devoted to drug control, heavily concentrated in the 7th and 8th Coast Guard districts in Florida and the Gulf of Mexico. In October 1996, the Coast Guard, part of the Department of Transportation, launched Operation Frontier Shield – joined by the FBI, DEA, Customs and other agencies, and Puerto Rican authorities – to combat the growing concentration of narcotics traffickers in Puerto Rico and the Virgin Islands. With nearly $1 billion worth of narcotics seized through June 1997, Frontier Shield reduced drug smuggling through those islands into the United States by one-third, according to Lt. Cmdr. Mike Emerson. “We kicked it off as proof that a concentrated surge of forces can have an effect,” he says. In March, the Coast Guard launched Operation Gulf Shield, targeting the Texas Gulf Coast, and in October implemented Campaign Steel Web, an overarching strategic concept for the transit zone that coordinates all the Coast Guard’s individual operations.

Unlike smuggling operations in the 1970s and ’80s, current traffickers have abandoned slower fishing vessels for quick, so-called “go-fast” boats that can cover 300 to 400 miles a day. “We’re seeing a lot more smaller loads coming in at a faster pace,” says Emerson. In addition, he says, traffickers are hiding drug caches in large, ocean-going cargo ships. The Coast Guard deploys sophisticated tools for detecting hidden drug shipments: ion-scanning instruments, which sense the presence of cocaine and heroin, and Compact Integrated Narcotics Detection Instruments, which can measure density changes in walls and bulkheads, where drugs might be hidden. The Coast Guard operates three classes of cutters (including 12 378-foot high-endurance cutters carrying helicopters and armed with anti-aircraft machine guns) along with fast patrol boats, HC-130H transport planes, reconnaissance aircraft and more than 130 helicopters.

There have been successes. Among the biggest seizures: the Don Celso, a vessel seized in October 1996, near Panama, with 7 tons of cocaine aboard, and the Nataly I, seized in the Pacific and bound for California with more than 12 tons of cocaine. Long term, the Coast Guard’s goal is to reduce by 60 percent the estimated 381 tons of cocaine headed for the United States.

Immigration and Naturalization Service
FY ’97: $318 million; FY ’98: $367 million

Around 15 percent of the Immigration and Naturalization Service budget is drug related. Most of the INS’ drug-enforcement work relates to the detention and deportation of alien drug offenders and to the work of the 6,800-strong Border Patrol and 3,500 INS inspectors, concentrated heavily along the U.S.-Mexico frontier from Texas to Southern California and at U.S. ports of entry. Along with Operation Hold the Line, out of El Paso, Texas, and Operation Safeguard, in Arizona, the INS’ largest deployment is Operation Gatekeeper, which runs along all 66 miles of southern San Diego County, using fences, lighting, permanent and mobile checkpoints and high-tech gadgets like ground sensors, low-light television cameras, night-vision scopes and a sophisticated computer biometrics system that analyzes fingerprints to identify repeat offenders. The INS also uses what it calls LORIS trucks, four-wheel-drive vehicles carrying infrared telescopes that can provide sweeping, long-distance views of desert terrain day or night.

Last year the INS made 6,252 drug seizures, which included 653,000 pounds of marijuana and 19,977 pounds of cocaine, along with a substantial catch, near Marfa, Texas, of more than 1,600 pounds of heroin. Of the 6,558 drug smugglers apprehended by the INS, most were so-called “mules” carrying a few pounds of cocaine or other substances. Occasionally, however, INS Border Patrol agents find huge shipments of drugs. On July 17, 1996, agents operating a highway checkpoint on Interstate 35, just north of Laredo, Texas, seized 3,332 pounds of cocaine.

Office of National Drug Control Policy
FY ’97: $289 million; FY ’98: $361 million

After being gutted early in the Clinton Administration, the ONDCP has rebounded in the last two years under McCaffrey, rising from 38 staffers to 150 today. Though called a “czar,” McCaffrey controls very little, yet the Office is responsible for policy and long-range planning in the War on Drugs and, nominally at least, coordinates the anti-drug work of the 40-plus agencies involved. About $18 million funds the Office’s staff and expenses; another $18 million is devoted to policy research and as seed money for new technology in the anti-drug effort. ONDCP contracts out for research on drug issues, including $480,000 to Abt Associates, a consulting firm, to produce Pulse Check, a semiannual report on trends in drug use, abuse and treatment, and $100,000 to CSR, Inc., for an ongoing study of the effectiveness of Safe and Drug-Free Schools programs like DARE. The Office’s technology research includes money for gee-whiz technologies like gamma-ray devices to detect contraband in liquid transport containers, nuclear magnetic resonators to see inside small packages and gas chromatographers to sense trace vapors – all of which are still in the testing phase at the U.S. Customs Service.

New for ’98 is a $175 million media and advertising campaign targeting youth, slated to hit the airwaves sometime next spring. All at once, the ONDCP will become one of America’s largest advertisers, and it is seeking matching funds from the private sector to expand the campaign. The campaign, says an ONDCP spokesman, will focus on “getting parents to talk to kids” and on kids aged 9 to 17.

Another $140 million will fund the High Intensity Drug Trafficking Areas program. A HIDTA is a drug task force made up of federal, state and local law-enforcement authorities and up to 300 personnel who target major drug-trafficking organizations, infiltrate street gangs, assist in making cases against drug kingpins, and gather intelligence through agents, wiretaps and other methods. The Southwest-border HIDTA will absorb $35.3 million in ’97; Miami’s, $13.2 million. Such spending is over and above what the DEA, the FBI, state and local police, Customs, the IRS and other agencies – including the seemingly redundant Organized Crime/Drug Enforcement Task Forces run by the Justice Department – spend. Originally, there were just five HIDTAs, in New York, Miami, Los Angeles, Houson, and on the Southwest border. Since 1990, sensing an opportunity for pork, Congress has added HIDTA dollars for regions like the Pacific Northwest and Lake County, Ind.

Health Care Financing Administration
FY ’97: $320 million; FY ’98: $360 million

This is the portion of Medicare used to provide treatment for drug abusers. According to the Research Triangle Institute, which conducted a national study of drug-related hospital discharges, and the National Institute on Drug Abuse, which studied nonhospital programs, Medicaid alone will spend $290 million caring for low-income drug abusers in ’98, compared with $260 million in ’97.

Interagency Crime and Drug Enforcement
FY ’97: $359 million; FY ’98: $295 million

To help coordinate the work of a dozen different agencies, the Justice Department operates the Organized Crime/Drug Enforcement Task Force program, which in ’97 has a budget of $359 million. Participating are the DEA, FBI, INS, U.S. Marshals Service, Customs, Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms, IRS, Coast Guard, federal prosecutors and several other Justice Department offices. The 13 regional Task Force bureaus, soon to be consolidated into nine, often overlap with the High Intensity Drug Trafficking Areas task forces funded by the drug czar’s office.

Department of Housing and Urban Development
FY ’97: $320 million; FY ’98: $290 million

Just under 2 percent of the giant Department of Housing and Urban Development budget of more than $19 billion was devoted to drug control this year. Most of that is doled out to public-housing authorities in the form of federal grants to assist them with drug-control planning, strategies, screening and law enforcement. Much of HUD’s effort is aimed at ridding public housing of drug users and traffickers. HUD got serious about drug control in 1996 with the passage of the Housing Opportunity Program Extension Act, and President Clinton’s announcement that March of the “One Strike and You’re Out” program. The One Strike program was launched after pilot projects in Toledo, Ohio; Greensboro, N.C.; and Macon, Ga. In Toledo, 41 drug offenders were evicted in its first year, and one of every seven applicants for residence was rejected because of criminal histories or unfavorable landlord references.

Federal Prisoner Detention
FY ’97: $246 million; FY ’98: $281 million

Last year the number of jail days for prisoners arrested on drug charges and awaiting trial or sentencing amounted to $3.39 million, at a cost of $54.70 a day; in ’98, that cost will rise to $61.38 per day.

U.S. Marshals Service
FY ’97: $261 million; FY ’98: 273 million

The U.S. Marshals Service’s chief contributions to drug-enforcement efforts are its work in arresting federal prisoners and producing drug offenders in court. More than half of its $501 million ’98 budget request is allocated to the War on Drugs, for a total of $273 million. In ’96, marshals made 18,250 felony arrests, of which nearly half, 8,936, were drug related. As part of the Department of Justice, the marshals produced more than 264,000 prisoners held on drug charges for court appearances in 1996 and took custody of 24,079 property seizures in drug-related cases.

U.S. Attorneys
FY ’97: $250 million; FY ’98: $269 million

Scattered across 94 federal districts are the U.S. attorneys, Justice Department foot soldiers and front-line prosecutors in the War on Drugs. More than one-fourth of what federal prosecutors do involves drug offenses, meaning that Washington will spend a quarter of a billion dollars this year on anti-drug legal actions in federal courts. In 1996, U.S. attorneys filed 10,487 drug-related cases, and that total is expected to rise to 11,500 in 1997 and 13,000 in ’98.

Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms
FY ’97: $176 million; FY ’98: $232 million

For the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms, the target is the link between drugs, gangs, organized crime and guns. The percentage of ATF activities devoted to drugs is projected to increase from 35 percent to 39 percent next year, to $232 million, even as the ATF’s overall budget leaps 20 percent. Next year, the ATF, part of the Treasury Department, will use $30.8 million in drug-control funds to construct a new forensic laboratory and research and development center, and, according to the drug czar’s budget summary, to “continue its efforts against drug organizations by targeting firearms-related crimes committed by career criminals, and arson- and explosives-related incidents committed by those involved in drug distribution.” In ’97, ATF expects to make 3,780 arrests, with a conviction rate of 85 percent.

State Department
FY ’97: $193 million; FY ’98: $214 million

The State Department’s Bureau of International Narcotics and Law Enforcement Affairs coordinates American drug policy with other nations, especially in South America. In ’97, according to the latest State Department International Narcotics Control Strategy Report, three countries absorbed nearly 80 percent of State Department military and law-enforcement assistance on drug issues: Bolivia ($45 million), Colombia ($30 million) and Peru ($23 million). Largely because of a $17 million expansion in military and law-enforcement aid to Peru next year, spending in ’98 will rise to $214 million. “We set the policy for all foreign narcotics matters,” says Susan Snyder, spokeswoman for the State Department’s anti-drug work. “We’re the only agency that can give money and equipment to other countries. Military aid goes through us.”

This year, the State Department will spend $86 million on “law-enforcement assistance and institutional development” and another $9 million for the DEA, the Coast Guard and the U.S. Customs Service to train 6,739 foreign personnel. In Haiti, the State Department, in partnership with the Coast Guard, has helped that country create a coast guard virtually from scratch.

The State Department operates its own anti-drug air force of 64 planes, at an annual cost of $31 million, which engage in aerial spraying of herbicides, partly through a contract with Dyncorp, of Dallas. It also funds aircraft and helicopters that are operated and maintained by local pilots and mechanics in countries like Peru.

Each year the State Department evaluates the drug-control efforts of other nations, issuing a report to the White House, which must give those nations its stamp of approval. In ’97 the White House refused to certify Afghanistan, Burma, Colombia, Iran and Nigeria. Three others – Belize, Lebanon and Pakistan – escaped decertification only because the White House deemed them essential to national security.

Centers for Disease Control
FY ’97: $83 million; FY ’98: $115 million

The recent growth of HIV/AIDS cases has been driven chiefly by intravenous drug users who share needles. This has drawn the Atlanta-based Centers for Disease Control into America’s War on Drugs. Since 1996, the CDC’s budget for drug control has nearly doubled, to the $115 million slated for 1998. The Center, a part of the HHS, provides funding to state and local health departments and education agencies, plus a wide range of private social-service groups, universities and hospitals for drug-related HIV “counseling, testing, referral and partner-notification services,” according to the drug czar’s office. About one-fourth of the CDC’s anti-drug work last year was aimed at tobacco use among young people.

U.S. Secret Service
FY ’97: $80 million; FY ’98: $90 million

More than 15 percent of the Secret Service’s $531 million budget is devoted to drug-control work, focusing on counterfeiting, electronic-funds-transfer fraud, computer-access fraud and related financial crimes. “Our original focus was the suppression of counterfeiting,” says special agent Jim Mackin, a Secret Service spokesman. Only later, he says, did the agency, a part of the Treasury Department, develop its primary mission: to protect the president, the vice president and other officials, including presidential candidates and visiting foreign leaders. Recent drug cases include the arrest in Panama of three Colombian nationals in possession of $110,000 in counterfeit U.S. currency and 450 kilograms of cocaine; the seizure of $4 million in counterfeit U.S. bills in Colombia; and, in Oklahoma, the seizure of $30 million in counterfeit money that a drug trafficker had planned to use to buy narcotics in South America.

Internal Revenue Service
FY ’97: $71 million; FY ’98: $73 million

The IRS Criminal Investigation division spends about one-fourth of its time on crimes related to illegal drug money. Also a part of the Treasury Department, the IRS’ high-profile cases have included the 1996 conviction of dozens of people on money-laundering and related charges in a Boston heroin-distribution ring; the 1995 conviction of a prominent St. Augustine, Fla., auto dealer who sold luxury cars to drug dealers for cash; and the conviction of a bank executive in Michigan who laundered $7 million between 1984 and 1992 on behalf of a Jamaican cocaine, heroin and money-laundering organization.

Department of Labor
FY ’97: $60 million; FY ’98: $66 million

The Department of Labor this year will spend nearly $60 million to help participants in Job Corps and Job Training Partnership Act programs overcome problems of substance abuse. About a half-million Americans will take part in Job Corps programs this year, served through a nationwide network of training centers, each of which is required to have a full-time substance-abuse counselor. Job Corps participants undergo drug testing and are required to sign a Zero Tolerance for Violence and Drugs pledge.

Federal Law Enforcement Training Center
FY ’97: $39 million; FY ’98: $61 million

At the Federal Law Enforcement Training Center, in Glynco, Ga., demands by 70 government agencies for the teaching of investigation skills and uniformed-police instruction have nearly doubled the Center’s budget in two years – and 60 percent of the Enforcement Training Center’s work is drug-related, according to spokesman Roger Busby. Last year, the Center, part of the Treasury Department, graduated 19,353 students, who came from virtually every federal agency, state and local law enforcement, and even some foreign countries. “We’re in the position of having to lease off-site motel rooms,” says Busby. “We haven’t been able to get ahead of the housing crunch here.”

Administration for Children and Families
FY ’97: $70 million; FY ’98: $54 million

A part of the HHS, this $36 billion-a-year agency will devote a scant $54 million to drug issues in ’98-mostly through grants to runaway- and homeless-youth programs, as well as through the $26 million it sets aside for Head Start, the $4 billion early-childhood-development program.

Health Resources and Services Administration
FY ’97: $46 million; FY ’98: $48 million

States, communities and a variety of nonprofit health-care and social-service agencies can tap into the multibillion-dollar Health Resources and Services Administration, which directs just over 1 percent of its funds to drug-related work. The HRSA, administrators for the Ryan White Funds for AIDS victims and a part of the HHS, reports that about one-third of people with AIDS are in the category of intravenous drug users. To manage the $770 million in annual Ryan White program money, the HRSA announced in August the creation of an HIV/AIDS Bureau; about 6 percent of its funds provide care for people with HIV/AIDS in substance-abuse treatment centers.

Indian Health Service
FY ’97: $43 million; FY ’98: $43 million

The $43 million devoted by the HHS’ Indian Health Service to treatment and prevention programs for American Indian and Alaskan native users and abusers of alcohol and other drugs is not enough, says Dr. Johanna Clevenger, principal consultant for the Indian Health Service’s Alcoholism and Substance Abuse Program. “We’ve only got about 60 to 75 percent of what we need,” she says, pointing out that the IHS can’t adequately fund group homes, halfway houses and after-school programs to supplement its primary-care facilities.

Corporation for National Service
FY ’97: $31 million; FY ’98: $40 million

The Corporation for National Service, created by President Clinton in 1993, is a public-private partnership that operates as a sort of domestic version of the Peace Corps. About 5 percent of the CNS’ $807 million ’98 budget request is for drug-related work. In New York, for instance, workers take care of children of crack-addicted mothers.

Food and Drug Administration
FY ’97: $6 million; FY ’98: $35 million

About 4 percent of the FDA’s budget for ’98 will be devoted to a program to stop youth from smoking, and falls under the national drug-control campaign. In addition, the FDA, an agency of the HHS, will spend about $1 million in ’98 on programs related to illegal drugs, including ongoing efforts to evaluate the safety and effectiveness of legal drug-alternatives to alleviate narcotic dependency.

National Highway Traffic Safety Administration
FY ’97: $29 million; FY ’98: $31 million

If your local police pull you over and ask you to take a voluntary blood or urine test, it might be because in ’97, the DOT’s NHTSA devoted nearly 10 percent of its $300 million budget to programs aimed at reducing the number of drug-impaired motorists on the road.

Department of Justice, Criminal Division
FY ’97: $25 million; FY ’98: $28 million

Allocating nearly 30 percent of its $88 million annual budget to cases involving illegal drugs, the criminal division expects to open 150 investigations this year, bring 117 cases and handle thousands of interjurisdictional legal matters. This work is carried out by 218 full-time employees in five offices dealing with organized crime, drugs, international law, terrorism and money laundering.

U.S. Intelligence Community
FY ’97: $27 million; FY ’98: $27 million

The budget summary of the Office of National Drug Control Policy registers just $27 million for the work of a Justice Department-operated drug intelligence clearinghouse in Pennsylvania and shows a total of $159 million for “intelligence” on drugs. At least a dozen agencies collect drug data, from the FBI and the DEA to the U.S. Forest Service, and the DEA manages an interagency unit in Texas called the El Paso Intelligence Center. Much of the intelligence community’s budget for anti-drug work is hidden within the Pentagon’s enormous account. According to ONDCP, those funds show up in the War on Drugs under the Defense Department’s proposed $458 million interdiction budget for ’98.

Federal Aviation Administration
FY ’97: $19 million; FY ’98: $23 million

In 1996, the FAA, an arm of the DOT, conducted 740 drug-related investigations, and its Drug Investigations Support Program investigative teams revoked 160 airman certificates, suspended another 29 and revoked four aircraft-registration certificates while assisting the DEA and other law-enforcement agencies in the seizure of nine aircraft. Additionally, the FAA spends around $9 million a year conducting drug tests.

Bureau of Indian Affairs
FY ’97: $16 million; FY ’98: $18 million

Of the Bureau’s 385 police officers and 100 criminal investigators, only about 10 Drug War specialize in drug enforcement. Most of the Bureau’s drug-control money is used to fund tribal-law-enforcement programs; about 100 tribal police officers are supported by BIA funds for antidrug work. In 1996, the Bureau, part of the Department of the Interior, destroyed almost a half million marijuana plants and made 219,230 drug seizures on tribal lands.

Special Supplemental Food Program For Women, Infants and Children
FY ’97: $15 million; FY ’98: $15 million

The U.S. Department of Agriculture’s WIC program serves nearly 1.7 million people a year, chiefly aiming its anti-drug efforts at warning women not to take drugs or smoke when pregnant. According to the Office of National Drug Control Policy, agencies that manage the WIC program refer about 10 percent of their female participants to drug-treatment centers.

Financial Crimes Enforcement Network
FY ’97: $12 million; FY ’98: $13 million

The Treasury Department’s FinCEN is a fledgling agency that tracks money-laundering activities. As the agency assigned to administer the Bank Secrecy Act, FinCEN watches for suspicious patterns and links a network of federal, state and local law-enforcement agencies; last year, FinCEN responded to 55,000 queries from those agencies. As part of the $11.7 million in ’97 drug-control work, FinCEN allocated $500,000 to studying the use of “emerging cyberpayment technologies.”

National Park Service
FY ’97: $9 million; FY ’98: $9 million

Throughout the vast system of national parks, just 50 park rangers (out of 1,524 total) have been assigned full-time responsibility for drug control. At a cost of about $9 million a year, the National Park Service destroys about 100,000 marijuana plants, and rangers make 2,500 arrests annually for drug offenses. The Park Service uses aerial reconnaissance and electronic surveillance, and deploys mounted photographic devices triggered by tripwires, to track traffickers and growers. In parks in Florida, Georgia, Texas and California, there is significant drug-smuggling activity.

U.S. Forest Service
FY ’97: $9 million; FY ’98: $9 million

The Forest Service governs a vast empire of federal land and protected national forests, covering 191.6 million acres. With just 600 personnel devoted to law enforcement and criminal investigations, which equals one officer for each 497 square miles, drug control in the national forest system is a tall order. “Our primary emphasis is domestic marijuana cultivation,” says Roger Seewald, a special agent with the U.S. Forest Service, who adds that up to $10 million has been authorized for the effort, including the training of up to 1,000 officers. In 1996, the Forest Service eradicated more than 6,000 marijuana sites and arrested 3,482 drug offenders, seizing 235 firearms and $2.18 million in assets.

At the Daniel Boone National Forest, in Kentucky, the marijuana eradication season, from July to October, is a busy time, for the forest is a hotbed of pot plots. “I’ve got a 12-man team out in the field right now,” says Michael Gay, a supervisory law-enforcement officer there. A decade-long crackdown by the U.S. Forest Service, in conjunction with the Kentucky National Guard and local and state police, has seen the number of marijuana plants destroyed in the Daniel Boone National Forest fall from a high of 372,000 in 1991 to 133,000 last year, still nearly half of the total for the entire national forest system. Some of the plots are rigged with booby traps, ranging from crude dynamite mines to shotguns linked to tripwires to simple fish hooks dangling from tree limbs and foliage. According to Gay, most of the growers sell their harvests to middlemen, who ship the pot up Interstate 75 to cities such as Cincinnati, Detroit and Cleveland.

Bureau of Land Management
FY ’97: $5 million; FY ’98: $5 million

This billion-dollar agency, which devotes only a tiny percentage of its efforts to drug control, is responsible for managing 264 million acres of land, primarily in Alaska and the Western states. Just $5 million is allocated to the War on Drugs by the Bureau. Yet it employs 33 full-time workers, including drug-control coordinators in all 12 Bureau offices, to track marijuana cultivation on federal lands, often in remote areas and along the U.S.-Mexico border. In August, authorities seized around 76,000 marijuana plants in northern Idaho, mostly on BLM land.

Agricultural Research Service
FY ’97: $5 million; FY ’98: $5 million

The federal government spends more than $700 million for research on agriculture and farming; $2.6 million of that is spent finding new and better ways to kill drug-producing plants. The Agricultural Research Service, part of the USDA, also spent $713,000 in 1997 to identify and improve crops that could replace coca plants in Bolivia and Peru, particularly cocoa and coffee. Another $745,000 went to determining the extent of worldwide narcotics cultivation, and $673,000 was spent teaching law-enforcement agencies how to identify drug crops.

In This Article: Coverwall, War on Drugs


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