What happens when the agents in charge of keeping drugs out of America are actually taking drugs themselves?
According to a recent investigation by USA Today, there have been at least 16 reports of employees inside the U.S. Drug Enforcement Agency failing drug tests since 2010. Not a single case resulted in the outright firing of an employee.
In fact, most employees were just given short suspensions–as little as one day.
That’s far less severe a punishment than most private sector jobs would offer–even though these are the people who are in charge of enforcing drug policy in America.
The article also sheds light on a culture of disobeying laws and rules at the DEA, along with the agency’s apparent history of dishing out paltry punishments for major wrongdoing.
In fact, USA Today found that some employees dealt drugs, falsified official records, and had “improper association with a criminal element”–and still didn’t get fired. Even when their bosses recommended they be fired, the DEA’s Board of Professional Conduct routinely overrided their decisions–reducing firings to suspensions and, in some cases, forcing the agency to rehire fired employees.
Carl Pike, a former DEA internal affairs investigator who recently retired, explained the USA Today just how rare it was for the DEA to actually fire someone.
“If we conducted an investigation, and an employee actually got terminated, I was surprised,” he said. “I was truly, truly surprised. Like, wow, the system actually got this guy.”
If the DEA can’t even manage to keep drugs and drug dealers out of their own hallways, it raises serious questions about their effectiveness on American streets.