The DEA, or the Drug Enforcement Agency, has a very checkered past in its mandate to eradicate drugs from the country. Ostensibly, DEA agents keep narcotics off the streets, but as anyone can see today, it is very ineffective in its mandate. Illicit drugs still trickle into the country every day. Yet, funding and resources keep pouring into the agency, as if it were an effective police force. There are many examples of DEA agents running amok, but the politically correct narrative doesn’t allow for discussing the DEA as a rogue and ineffective organization. Much of the optics about the DEA are manufactured for political purposes, i.e. federal monies trickling down through the establishment. The agency, itself, is very adept at protecting itself from scrutiny. Fortunately for us, the truth eventually trickles out.
The latest example is from 2012, when members of the DEA’s Foreign-deployed Advisory Support Teams (FAST), working alongside Honduran forces killed four Honduran civilians, including a 14-year-old child. Since then, the DEA has maintained its innocence about the incident arguing that it had video evidence to prove it. However, they have refused to release the video until they were forced to recently.
The New York Times details in “D.E.A Says Hondurans Opened Fire During a Drug Raid. A Video Suggests Otherwise,” by Mattathis Schwartz, published yesterday, the DEA cover up of the murder of the Honduran civilians. According to the article, after the DEA team and Honduran police attempt to interdict a drug transaction in the jungle, one DEA agent and two Honduran police officers pursued an empty drug-laden canoe into the river. As the agents try to get the boat back to shore, a water taxi, carrying civilians collided with the drug-laden canoe.
The agents opened fire on the civilians, killing four and injuring three. For years the DEA argued that its agents returned fire because they had been fired upon. They argued they had infrared video to prove it, but refused to release it to the public. They accused the victims of being drug runners.
In May 2017, the Office of the Inspectors General for the Department of Justice and the Department of State released a report on three deadly incidents involving DEA agents in Honduras. The report documented the May 11, 2012 incident involving the canoe, another incident on June 23 and another incident on July 3. All three incidents involved the DEA FAST teams in Honduras.
The reports found that the DEA lied to Congress and to the press about the incidents and the nature of the DEA operations in Honduras. The DEA disbanded the FAST teams in 2015. The OAG report pointed out that the DEA was supposed to be operating in a support capacity alongside the Honduran police, but instead the DEA FAST teams took command on the ground in Honduras, directing operations in violation of its operating agreements.
According to yesterday’s New York Times article, the video that the DEA argued would exonerate it was released to the public. The newspaper reports that the video does not exonerate the DEA, but rather shows that the civilians did not open fire on the DEA teams, as the DEA had long argued. The DEA had lied and, additionally, the OAG report documented instances of the DEA misleading Congress about its operations.
In 1985, DEA agent Enrique Camarena was killed in Guadalajara under orders of Miguel Angel Felix Gallardo, one of the godfathers of the Mexican drug cartels. The incident created much animosity between the United States and México. Although the DEA has been allowed to operate in México for years, the rules under which they operate have been controversial in both countries. The Mexican government strictly limits the role DEA agents operate under while working in México. The United States government and the DEA complain that México is too restrictive for the DEA agents and endangers their lives.
Through its history in México, the DEA has been accused of numerous violations by Mexican officials and the DEA has accused Mexican officials of corruption. The latest revelations of the DEA lying to Congress and to officials is just one more example of an agency whose agents have mostly gone rogue. For law enforcement to be effective, it must be trusted. But the DEA has an extensive record of lying to government officials, making it impossible to trust the agency to carry out its mission and to be forthright about its activities.