Organized Crime Drug Enforcement Task Forces:

Status and Observations

GGD-84-35: Published: Dec 9, 1983. Publicly Released: Jan 4, 1984.

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In response to a congressional request, GAO provided information on the planning and management of the newly established Organized Crime Drug Enforcement Task Force Program and identified issues for potential consideration in future evaluations of the program's success.

The goal of the new task forces is to disrupt high-level drug trafficking organizations by making the maximum use of financial investigative techniques rather than focusing on drug interdiction. Task force agents and attorneys remain under the direct supervision of their respective agencies while conducting investigations jointly with other task force agents and attorneys. As of September 1983, approximately 96 percent of the professional task force positions had been filled and about 300 cases were under investigation. GAO noted that three issues will be particularly relevant in future evaluations of the program: (1) the ability of the task forces to achieve their objectives under the program's structure; (2) the effect that the task forces will have on the operations of high-level organizations; and (3) whether the disruption of organizations will reduce drug supplies. Each issue presents measurement problems, but GAO stated that the task force results should be measured by the number of convictions and amounts of financial assets seized, the use of multiple charges against different levels of an organization, the number of cases pursued across district lines, and the actual contribution of agencies to the investigation. Measuring the impact of the task forces on drug supplies may not be feasible.

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