Drug Investigations:

Organized Crime Drug Enforcement Task Force Program: A Coordinating Mechanism

GGD-86-73BR: Published: Jul 17, 1986. Publicly Released: Aug 18, 1986.

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In response to a congressional request, GAO reviewed the Organized Crime Drug Enforcement Task Force (OCDETF) program and provided information on: (1) the drug problem in the United States; (2) the OCDETF program's role in combating the problem; and (3) how OCDETF operates.

The OCDETF mission is to identify, investigate, and prosecute high-level members of drug trafficking enterprises and to destroy their operations by adding new federal resources and fostering coordination and cooperation among participating federal agencies. The program's framework gives individual task forces wide authority to deal with their regions' particular drug trafficking problems, based on a consensus of the involved agencies. As a result, disagreements and concerns exist regarding whether: (1) task force agents and attorneys should work full-time on the program; (2) task force coordinators, agents, and attorneys should be housed in one location; (3) task force coordinators should supervise task force agents; and (4) agents other than those from the Department of Justice should have authority to conduct drug investigations. GAO found that: (1) the lack of centralized authority at the national level complicates the allocation of resources among the participating agencies; (2) there is no mechanism in place to collect the necessary data to make resource allocation decisions; (3) through December 1985, the program resulted in 2,453 convictions, which included 271 heads of criminal organizations, $440 million in confiscated property and cash, and the removal of large quantities of drugs from the market; and (4) in addition to the OCDETF program, drug abuse prevention efforts, drug interdiction at U.S. borders, and crop eradication are necessary to control the drug problem.

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