Carlton Meyer says: A DEA Agent’s Life is Pointless

A DEA Agent’s Life is Pointless

As Trump attempts to slash budgets, he should target the DEA. Everyone familiar with the illegal drug trade and the DEA knows that it’s budget could be cut in half and there would be no impact on drug use in the USA. There might be lower prices, which only hurts the drug traffickers. Some efforts are counterproductive. Because money laundering efforts made cash transactions more difficult, dealers starting paying their mules with drugs, who them sold them cheaply in local Mexican communities along the trade route, causing a drug epidemic in Mexico.

DEA agents know little about the real drug trade, which is why they are powerless to stop it. The major dealers were in business before these guys were born and have lived in their areas all of their lives. DEA agents show up not even knowing the local road system. They clumsily seek info as each is quickly identified as narc. He’s the clean cut guy who speaks limited Spanish asking too many questions. The big time dealers will not speak to anyone unless someone they trust vouches for them, and they let their low level employees do the actual transactions. 

However, DEA agents are often successful. The big time drug dealers are annoyed by startups that cut into their action. They can kill them, but that costs money and is messy. It is far easier to tip off local police or the DEA to take them out. Retired DEA agent Michael Levin wrote several great books about all this. The futility and complexity of the failed drug war is depicted in the great movie “Traffic”. In this video clip, a small-time drug dealer is under DEA protection before he is to testify against a big time drug dealer in return for a sentence reduction. When a cocky DEA agent pokes fun at him, he tells the DEA agent that his life is pointless. Despite all their efforts, the drugs continue to flow since all the DEA does is take out competition for the major dealers.

If Trump really wants to hurt the drug cartels, pull those DEA agents from their expensive overseas postings and rotate them to border posts. I explained this in my Oct 25, 2010 blog post:

“I spent most of my life along the Mexican border, including two years at a Border Research Institute in Laredo, Texas. One thing I learned through observation and talking to people is that most illegal drugs are driven across border checkpoints risk free. Choosing which vehicles to send to detailed secondary inspection is up to the lowly Homeland Security guy at each booth. He asks for ID, runs the license plate, asks a few questions to measure nervousness, and allows around 95% to pass on without a detailed inspection. Since friends, relatives, or drug smugglers can call, text, or see who is in each booth, they can choose the line to their friendly inspector and avoid searches. Border officials also know the big political players in their border region, so they never search the mayor, police chief, fellow employees, senior officials, or their wives.

The guys in the Homeland Security booths can wave through whoever they want, so they are easy to corrupt since they can trade favors or collect cash for doing nothing. They just pretend not to notice the illegals crouched down in the back seat or the suitcases, which may have drugs. They cannot be caught, unless someone squeals on them. Even when that occurs, there is no hard evidence. Some may apply for such jobs with plans to become rich by waving through fellow gang members. This problem is widespread because few are caught every year. A lone, low ranking, corrupt official can allow dozens of vehicles with tons of drugs or dozens of illegals to pass through risk-free each day!

The solution is simple and costs almost nothing. Federal agents from outside the area should be tasked to supervise border inspections. Every few years, they would be assigned a 90-day duty at a border station, which would require a half dozen temps at each border crossing to provide coverage 24/7. They would often search Homeland Security personnel at booths for cell phones — none allowed. They would choose who is at each booth, and move them around every hour. Its a good idea to install sun tarps so people in the Mexican side can’t see who is in which booth.

The outside Fed would walk among cars waiting in line and can also choose vehicles to inspect. He would keep a keen eye out for cars that try to change lanes for no reason, especially after he shuffles the guys in the booths. The drug cartels now drive large shipments through daily at no risk, because they have a “friend” at the inspection booth. This would become risky because it would be difficult to determine which lane their friend is working, and he might be moved just before they pull up, and that annoying Fed wandering around may choose them for inspection. The Fed should wear a bullet proof vest and carry an M-16 because smugglers may open fire and flee when he doesn’t allow them to choose their lane.

This would be a thankless task, because this outsider would be disliked by the local Homeland Security people. This is why he must be an outsider on temporary duty, outside the Homeland Security chain-of-command and not worried about becoming hated in the local community. Every border crossing is different, yet the impact of outside supervisors would be huge. These agents would face serious authority confrontations with a few border inspectors who are found with cell phones or senior officials who insist that certain vehicles cannot be searched. 

This would be similar to the disruption drug smugglers encountered when aircrews were required to go through gate security checkpoints after 9-11. A lot of stewardesses and pilots were frequent drug mules, with a perfect cover and risk free transport method. If outside supervisors are used at border crossings, I’d guess the drug flow from Mexico would fall in half. This wouldn’t solve the drug war, but would smack down the profits of the Mexican drug cartels, and those of some Homeland Security folks. Unfortunately, Homeland Security dislikes this idea because it implies that corruption exists, and no one wants outsiders telling them what to do.”

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