This report discusses the Drug Enforcement Administration's (DEA) Mobile Enforcement Team Program. GAO found that since the program was established in 1995, DEA has enhanced its management of the program and provided for greater headquarters oversight and monitoring. In implementing the program and carrying out deployments, the field division METs generally complied with some of the pertinent requirements and guidelines that GAO reviewed. However, some DEA headquarters files did not contain adequate documentation, GAO could not determine whether the METs consistently and adequately assessed the requesting local law enforcement agencies' abilities to address, on their own, the drug and related violence problems for which DEA's program assistance was requested. DEA expects the program to focus on specific, targeted gangs in the areas in which the METs are deployed and that deployments will generally continue until the targeted individuals are arrested and the targeted drug gangs have been disrupted or dismantled. Consistent with the nature and objectives of the program, investigators focused primarily on street-level drug dealers and were mostly local and regional in scope. DEA collects data on various performance measures to assess the results of individual deployments and the overall program. It reports internally and externally on program results for some of the performance measures. However, the measures have problems and limitations related primarily to the inconsistency in data collection.
Recommendations for Executive Action
|Department of Justice||To help ensure that DEA's MET resources are used only in those instances where the requesting local law enforcement agencies are incapable of addressing drug-related violence problems in their communities, the Attorney General should direct the DEA Administrator to (1) provide clear guidance for METs to use in assessing local law enforcement agencies' capabilities and (2) ensure that the DEA field divisions document such assessments and provide them to DEA headquarters before MET deployments are approved.|
|Department of Justice||The Attorney General should direct the DEA Administrator to (1) establish and ensure the use of standardized data collection methods for obtaining information on the performance measures DEA uses to assess the results of the individual MET deployments and the overall MET Program, (2) compile data and compare the number of primary individuals, gangs, and organizations targeted at the beginning of and during deployments to the number arrested, disrupted, and dismantled, (3) collect and report (a) consistent violent crime statistics that cover comparable crime types and time periods and relate to the specific geographic areas where the MET deployments were focused, and (b) to the extent feasible and practical, pertinent adjacent and comparable areas, and (4) use more structured data collection methods, such as a survey instrument, to collect qualitive data on the four outcome-oriented areas included in the post-deployment reviews that can be used to assess the results of the individual MET deployments and be aggregated to evaluate the overall MET Program.|