The Drug Enforcement Administration's Reporting of Arrests

GAO-02-276R: Published: Feb 13, 2002. Publicly Released: Feb 13, 2002.

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Laurie E. Ekstrand
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The Drug Enforcement Administration's (DEA) Caribbean Division was alleged recently to have taken inappropriate credit for arrests to gain more resources. To claim credit for drug-related arrests, DEA agents must be directly involved in domestic arrests and provide "substantial assistance" to host-country law enforcement officials in foreign arrests. DEA's Agents Manual defines substantial assistance as active participation or furnishing of information or funds that lead to an arrest. Agents must complete a "Personal History Report" on each person arrested and complete a "Report of Investigation" on the investigative activities leading to the arrest. DEA uses the Personal History Report to track the number of arrests. DEA officials told GAO that arrest data do not serve as a basis for requesting additional resources in the budget development process. DEA's internal control procedures and inspection programs include (1) on-site inspections of its domestic and foreign offices and (2) annual self-inspections by divisional offices. To ensure the validity of its arrest data, in August 2001, the then acting administrator changed DEA's inspection programs--from a review of a random sample of arrests to a comprehensive review of all arrests. GAO's reviews of DEA inspection reports indicated that significant over-reporting of arrests may have been a one-time occurrence.

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