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Review Of The Drug Enforcement Administration's (DEA)
Control Of The Diversion Of Controlled Pharmaceuticals

Report Number I-2002-010
September 2002


The DEA faces a number of significant challenges as it seeks to effectively address the widespread problem of diversion of controlled pharmaceuticals. The OIG review highlighted several of the major issues confronting the DEA and, specifically, the Office of Diversion Control.

Our review concluded that the DEA's enforcement efforts to date have not adequately addressed the problem of controlled pharmaceutical diversion. Despite the fact that the number of people who abuse controlled pharmaceuticals each year approximately equals the number who abuse cocaine, the DEA has assigned only 10 percent of its field investigator positions to diversion investigations. In fact, since 1990, the number of diversion investigators as a percentage of total DEA investigators has decreased by 3 percent.

The OIG review also found that because diversion investigators lack law enforcement authority they must rely on DEA special agents or state and local law enforcement officers to perform essential investigative activity. The DEA has failed to resolve this longstanding problem by either providing sufficient special agent assistance to diversion investigations, providing diversion investigators with law enforcement authorities they currently lack, or some combination of these solutions. The lack of special agent assistance has diminished the quality and timeliness of diversion investigations.

The OIG also found that the DEA has yet to develop specialized training for special agents, especially those assigned to assist with diversion investigations. Finally, we found that the DEA has not provided diversion investigators with consistent or timely intelligence to support their investigative efforts.

The OIG believes that the DEA must address each of these issues in order to more effectively investigate the illegal diversion of controlled pharmaceuticals.