Federal Drug Interdiction Efforts Need Strong Central Oversight

Gao ID: GGD-83-52 June 13, 1983

GAO reviewed the federal drug interdiction efforts and recommended ways to improve the effectiveness of these efforts.

GAO found that federal efforts to attack the supply of illegal drugs have three major components: (1) international programs aimed at drug-producer countries; (2) interdiction of drugs at the border; and (3) domestic law enforcement. Federal resources devoted to drug interdiction more than tripled from 1977 to 1982. The Coast Guard's drug interdiction program comprises the majority of this increase. Despite these increases, only 16 percent of the marijuana and less than 10 percent of the heroin, cocaine, and dangerous drugs that are entering this country are seized through total drug enforcement efforts. Joint special projects conducted by two or more agencies have proven especially effective in attacking drug smuggling, for example, special Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) investigations involving the U.S. Customs Service and the Coast Guard. The authority and responsibility for federal drug interdiction efforts are split among three separate agencies in three executive departments. Although the level of cooperation is increasing, especially in south Florida, such fragmentation has a certain amount of inefficiency and interagency conflict. Congressional oversight and executive branch resource allocation decisions relative to drug interdiction are difficult under these circumstances. The effectiveness of federal interdiction efforts depends a great deal on intelligence support capabilities. The military departments have provided some limited assistance to drug enforcement agencies over the last several years.


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.

Director: Arnold P. Jones Team: General Accounting Office: General Government Division Phone: (202) 512-7797

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