Changes Needed To Strengthen Federal Efforts To Combat Narcotics Trafficking

Gao ID: 112128 April 22, 1980

Changes are needed to strengthen the ability of various Federal agencies, particularly the Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) and the Internal Revenue Service (IRS), to deal with the narcotics problem. Incarcerating major drug traffickers for long periods and causing forfeiture of their financial resources are key elements to reducing the narcotics problem. This requires interaction and coordination among Federal law enforcement agencies, including DEA and IRS. Although DEA has the legal authority to seek forfeiture of drug traffickers' illegally derived assets, it does not have the extensive financial expertise and access to information needed to perform such investigations; IRS, on the other hand, has the needed financial expertise and access to information. However, legal obstacles, little overall direction, and changing priorities have hindered these and other agencies from using and coordinating their unique skills, jurisdictions, and resources to the maximum possible advantage. Federal narcotics efforts could be improved if (1) Congress would amend the disclosure and summons provisions of the Tax Reform Act of 1976, and (2) Federal agencies involved in narcotics enforcement would take certain administrative actions, the most important of which is the need for DEA to make greater use of its asset forfeiture authority. In addition, the Department of Justice should develop a more flexible dual prosecution policy; IRS should accelerate its handling of disclosure requests submitted by courts and agency heads; DEA and IRS should improve their joint investigative efforts; Justice should develop a more flexible dual prosecution policy; and IRS should streamline its grand jury approval process and use its jeopardy and termination assessments more effectively.

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