Law Enforcement: DEA Lax on Handling Seized Cash, Audit Finds

Submitted by Phillip Smith on (Issue #468)
Consequences of Prohibition
Politics & Advocacy

The Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) has rules in place to safeguard the hundreds of millions of dollars of cash seized or forfeited from drug suspects each year, but DEA agents largely ignore them, a review by the Justice Department's Office of the Inspector General has found. The lax handling of all that cash is an invitation to theft and corruption, the audit warned.

[inline:seizedcash.jpg align=right caption="seized cash"]The audit examined thousands of seizures between October 2003 and November 2005. During that period, DEA agents made more than 16,000 seizures totaling nearly $616 million. According to Justice Department Inspector General Glenn Fine, author of the audit, DEA agents frequently failed to count the cash they seized, often didn't provide receipts, rarely bothered to record the seizures in agency ledgers, and frequently failed to have colleagues witness the counting and handling of the money.

"Failure to establish effective controls for safeguarding seized cash can lead to discrepancies, accusations of theft, or misappropriation of seized cash," Fine wrote in a fine display of bureaucratic understatement.

The lax procedures led to at least 12 instances where either the DEA's Office of Professional Responsibility (OPR) or the Office of the Inspector General's Investigations Division investigated allegations of missing or stolen cash, Fine noted. "The investigations showed that DEA personnel did not follow established controls for safeguarding the seized cash," he wrote. "Problems identified include agents not counting the seized cash, not providing a DEA-12 receipt to the suspect, and transporting the seized cash without a witness present."

Kind of makes you wonder just how much cash got up and walked away, doesn't it?

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Anonymous (not verified)

seams like laws are enforced to assist advancement of personal gain for the law enforcement agents. I see alot of abuse of power. How do you fight the badge! Everyone is guilty untill you can prove innocence.

Wed, 03/21/2007 - 2:00am Permalink

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