Stronger Crackdown Needed on Clandestine Laboratories Manufacturing Dangerous Drugs

GGD-82-6: Published: Nov 6, 1981. Publicly Released: Nov 6, 1981.

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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.

Matter for Congressional Consideration

  1. Status: Closed - Implemented

    Comments: When we determine what steps the Congress has taken, we will provide updated information.

    Matter: Congress should amend the Controlled Substances Act to increase the maximum penalties for trafficking in all Schedules I and II nonnarcotic drugs, including phencyclidine, to equal the maximum penalties for trafficking in Schedules I and II narcotic drugs.

Recommendations for Executive Action

  1. Status: Closed - Implemented

    Comments: When we confirm what actions the agency has taken in response to this recommendation, we will provide updated information.

    Recommendation: The Attorney General should direct the Administrator of the Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) to analyze field offices' use of investigative resources that deviate from the high enforcement priority ranking assigned to dangerous drugs and, where deviations are not justified, formulate plans to allocate investigative resources commensurate with the severity of the problem.

    Agency Affected: Department of Justice

  2. Status: Closed - Implemented

    Comments: When we confirm what actions the agency has taken in response to this recommendation, we will provide updated information.

    Recommendation: The Attorney General should direct the Administrator of DEA to direct field offices to comply with the requirements of the precursor liaison program and to establish procedures to be followed by DEA headquarters staff in monitoring field offices' compliance with such requirements.

    Agency Affected: Department of Justice

  3. Status: Closed - Implemented

    Comments: When we confirm what actions the agency has taken in response to this recommendation, we will provide updated information.

    Recommendation: The Attorney General should direct the Administrator of DEA to carry out the current plans to implement the precursor chemical information system developed by the DEA Offices of Enforcement and Intelligence in 1979.

    Agency Affected: Department of Justice

 

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