Stronger Crackdown Needed on Clandestine Laboratories Manufacturing Dangerous Drugs

Gao ID: GGD-82-6 November 6, 1981

GAO assessed whether the Federal Government is mounting an effective attack on illicitly manufactured dangerous drugs and whether current legal sanctions pose a reasonable degree of risk to dangerous drug traffickers.

In spite of concerted efforts by a few Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) field offices which have produced an impressive increase in the number of clandestine laboratory seizures, clandestine laboratories continue to flourish. The battle against illegal laboratory operations is falling behind because: (1) the Federal strategy of achieving the highest possible level of risk for drug trafficking through appropriate sentencing has not been achieved; (2) DEA devotes more resources to investigating traffickers in cocaine and, in some cases, cannabis, both lower priority drugs, than to investigating traffickers in dangerous drugs, even though dangerous drugs have the second highest enforcement priority, surpassed only by heroin; and (3) DEA is not fully using and developing the precursor liaison program which is the most important tool available for detecting and suppressing clandestine laboratories. Additional resources would help DEA deal with the dangerous drugs problem. But, given present economic conditions, a significant increase in resources is unlikely. Nevertheless, it is important that a more effective attack be mounted against clandestine laboratories because their product is deadly, and the laboratory drugs, unlike heroin, which is imported, have a domestic source. A strong domestic drug law enforcement program is essential in order for the United States to convince other nations of its commitment to control drug abuse and achieve international cooperation in drug control.


Our recommendations from this work are listed below with a Contact for more information. Status will change from "In process" to "Open," "Closed - implemented," or "Closed - not implemented" based on our follow up work.

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