Follow-Up Review of the Drug Enforcement Administrationís Efforts
to Control the Diversion of Controlled Pharmaceuticals

Evaluations and Inspections Report I-2006-004
July 2006
Office of the Inspector General

Conclusion and Recommendations

Since our 2002 review, the DEA has taken steps to improve its ability to control the diversion of controlled pharmaceuticals, especially pharmaceutical diversion using the Internet. However, there are still some areas in need of further improvement in the DEA’s diversion control efforts that we identified and reported in 2002.

Since 2002, the DEA has added diversion control as a strategic goal in its strategic plan for FY 2003 – 2008, reorganized its Operations Division to include law enforcement operations for diversion control, provided additional intelligence resources to investigators, and increased its authorized domestic diversion investigator positions by 15 percent from FY 2002 to FY 2005. Further, the DEA increased the number of criminal diversion investigations initiated by 23 percent since issuance of our 2002 report and established the first performance measures for the diversion control program in FY 2005.

Since our previous review, diversion using the Internet has become a growing threat. The DEA has increased the percentage of diversion investigator time applied to Internet diversion investigations and developed an operational Internet strategy for guiding investigators in conducting Internet investigations. However, it has not ensured that diversion investigators have the necessary tools, such as undercover credit cards, and training to conduct successful investigations of diversion using the Internet.

We also found that the DEA had increased the amount of time that special agents devoted to diversion control since our last review. Nonetheless, this still represents a very small percentage of DEA special agents’ overall efforts at a time when the need for special agent assistance in diversion cases has increased. In addition, while 34 percent of special agents have attended a 3-day training course that is applicable to Internet-related investigations, only 98 special agents have attended the DEA’s week-long course specifically concerning diversion. Also, we found that the complicated issue of providing law enforcement authority for DEA diversion investigators has not been resolved, although the DEA has been actively pursuing the matter.

Finally, with the growing threat of diversion using the Internet and the overall growth of diversion in general, the need for intelligence analysts has increased. While we found that the DEA has implemented certain new intelligence resources pertinent to diversion investigations, similar to what we found in our previous review, intelligence analyst assistance remains limited in the field. Further, training for intelligence analysts on diversion issues is minimal.

To make more progress in reducing the illegal diversion of controlled pharmaceuticals, the DEA must address these conditions by ensuring that criminal diversion investigations receive adequate assistance from special agents and intelligence analysts who have been trained in the intricacies of this type of investigation. Further, because diversion using the Internet is a growing threat, the DEA must also ensure that investigators have the necessary tools and training to conduct successful Internet investigations.

We are therefore making six recommendations to help the DEA improve its ability to address the growing problem of diversion of controlled pharmaceuticals.

We recommend that the DEA:

  1. Provide diversion investigators with adequate special agent support until the conversion of the DEA diversion investigator position to one with law enforcement authority is fully implemented.
  2. Ensure that DEA special agents who frequently assist with diversion investigations attend the week-long diversion training school.
  3. Provide training to intelligence analysts on topics that effectively support diversion investigations.
  4. Update the diversion control training video used in basic special agent and intelligence analyst training to include current diversion issues such as diversion using the Internet.
  5. Ensure that diversion investigators receive training in skills necessary for conducting Internet investigations, such as financial investigations.
  6. Fully implementation of the program to provide undercover credit cards to diversion investigators.

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