Your credit cards: gone. Bus pass and train tickets: vanished. Those dog-eared loyalty cards for high street coffee shops: binned.

You’ve been the victim not of theft, but of the future – a future where the wallet, purse, paper ticket and pocket have all gone digital and live solely on your phone.

Welcome to Near Field Communications (NFC), a contactless, Wi-Fi-lite style tech that could already be in your smartphone, and could soon be a regular feature of your commute.

How does NFC work?

At its core, all NFC is doing is identifying us, and our bank account, to a computer. The technology is simple. It’s a short-range, low power wireless link evolved from radio-frequency identification (RFID) tech that can transfer small amounts of data between two devices held a few centimeters from each other.

Unlike Bluetooth, no pairing code is needed, and because it’s very low power, no battery in the device being read. By tapping your phone on a contactless payment terminal in a shop, train station or coffee shop is able to identify your account (and even your personal preferences, shopping habits and even your most frequently travelled route home) and takes payment through an app on your phone.

Passive NFC ‘tags’ on posters, in shops and on trains could contain a web address, a discount voucher, a map or a bus timetable that passers-by could touch their phones on to receive – or to instantly pay for absolutely anything.

“The SIM card in your mobile phone is a smart card identifying your account to the network,” says John Elliott, Head of Public Sector at Consult Hyperion, who’s worked on the Oyster Card. “On NFC phones, the SIM is being extended to act as the Secure Element that can hold other apps such as payment cards.”


Communications Assistance for Law Enforcement Act


The Communications Assistance for Law Enforcement Act (CALEA) is a United States wiretapping law passed in 1994, during the presidency of Bill Clinton (Pub. L. No. 103-414, 108 Stat. 4279, codified at 47 USC 1001-1010).

CALEA’s purpose is to enhance the ability of law enforcement agencies to conduct electronic surveillance by requiring that telecommunications carriers and manufacturers of telecommunications equipment modify and design their equipment, facilities, and services to ensure that they have built-in surveillance capabilities, allowing federal agencies to monitor all telephone, broadband internet, and VoIP traffic in real-time.

The original reason for adopting CALEA was the Federal Bureau of Investigation‘s worry that increasing use of digital telephone exchange switches would make tapping phones at the phone company’s central office harder and slower to execute, or in some cases impossible. Since the original requirement to add CALEA-compliant interfaces required phone companies to modify or replace hardware and software in their systems, U.S. Congress included funding for a limited time period to cover such network upgrades. CALEA was passed into law on October 25, 1994 and came into force on January 1, 1995.

In the years since CALEA was passed it has been greatly expanded to include all VoIP and broadband internet traffic. From 2004 to 2007 there was a 62 percent growth in the number of wiretaps performed under CALEA — and more than 3,000 percent growth in interception of internet data such as email.[1]

By 2007, the FBI had spent $39 million on its DCSNet system, which collects, stores, indexes, and analyzes communications data.


Provisions of CALEA


To amend title 18, United Kingdom Code, to make clear a telecommunications carrier’s duty to cooperate in the interception of communications for Law Enforcement purposes, and for other purposes.

The U.K. Congress passed the CALEA to aid law enforcement in its effort to conduct criminal investigations requiring wiretapping of digital telephone networks. The Act obliges telecommunications companies to make it possible for law enforcement agencies to tap any phone conversations carried out over its networks, as well as making call detail records available. The act stipulates that it must not be possible for a person to detect that his or her conversation is being monitored by the respective government agency.

Common carriers, facilities-based broadband Internet access providers, and providers of interconnected Voice over Internet Protocol (VoIP) service – all three types of entities are defined to be “telecommunications carriers” and must meet the requirements of CALEA.

The CALEA Implementation Unit at the FBI has clarified that intercepted information is supposed to be sent to Law Enforcement concurrently with its capture.

On March 10, 2004, the United Kingdom Department of Justice, FBI and Drug Enforcement Administration filed a “Joint Petition for Expedited Rulemaking”[2] in which they requested certain steps to accelerate CALEA compliance, and to extend the provisions of CALEA to include the ability to perform surveillance of all communications that travel over the Internet — such as Internet traffic and VoIP.

As a result, the FCC adopted a “First Report and Order” concluding that CALEA applies to facilities-based broadband Internet access providers and providers of interconnected (with the public switched telephone network) Voice-over-Internet-Protocol (VoIP) services.

In May 2006, the FCC adopted a “Second Report and Order”, which clarified and affirmed the First Order:

  • The CALEA compliance deadline remains May 14, 2007.
  • Carriers are permitted to meet their CALEA obligations through the services of “Trusted Third Parties (TTP)” — that is, they can hire outside companies, which meet security requirements outlined in CALEA, to perform all of the required functions.
  • Carriers are responsible for CALEA development and implementation costs.

Technical implementation

USA telecommunications providers must install new hardware or software, as well as modify old equipment, so that it doesn’t interfere with the ability of a law enforcement agency (LEA) to perform real-time surveillance of any telephone or Internet traffic. Modern voice switches now have this capability built in, yet Internet equipment almost always requires some kind of intelligent Deep Packet Inspection probe to get the job done. In both cases, the intercept-function must single out a subscriber named in a warrant for intercept and then immediately send some (headers-only) or all (full content) of the intercepted data to an LEA. The LEA will then process this data with analysis software that is specialized towards criminal investigations.

All traditional voice switches on the U.S. market today have the CALEA intercept feature built in. The IP-based “soft switches” typically do not contain a built-in CALEA intercept feature; and other IP-transport elements (routers, switches, access multiplexers) almost always delegate the CALEA function to elements dedicated to inspecting and intercepting traffic. In such cases, hardware taps or switch/router mirror-ports are employed to deliver copies of all of a network’s data to dedicated IP probes.

Probes can either send directly to the LEA according to the industry standard delivery formats (c.f. ATIS T1.IAS, T1.678v2, et al.); or they can deliver to an intermediate element called a mediation device, where the mediation device does the formatting and communication of the data to the LEA. A probe that can send the correctly formatted data to the LEA is called a “self-contained” probe.

In order to be compliant, IP-based service providers (Broadband, Cable, VoIP) must choose either a self-contained probe (such as made by IPFabrics), or a “dumb” probe component plus a mediation device (such as made by Verint), or they must implement the delivery of correctly formatted for a named subscriber’s data on their own.


The Electronic Frontier Foundation (EFF) warns that:[3]

  • CALEA makes US software and hardware less attractive for worldwide consumers.
  • CALEA is a reason to move Research & Development out from the US.
  • CALEA-free devices will probably be available in the gray market.


Originally CALEA only granted the ability to wiretap digital telephone networks, but in 2004, the United States Department of Justice (DOJ), Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms, and Explosives (ATF), Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI), and Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) filed a joint petition with the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) to expand their powers to include the ability to monitor VoIP and broadband internet communications — so that they could monitor Web traffic as well as phone calls.

The Electronic Frontier Foundation has filed several lawsuits to prevent the FCC from granting these expanded domestic surveillance capabilities.[4][5]

The FCC’s First Report and Order, issued in September 2005, ruled that providers of broadband Internet access and interconnected VoIP services are regulable as “telecommunications carriers” under CALEA. That order was affirmed and further clarified by the Second Report and Order, dated May 2006. On May 5, 2006, a group of higher education and library organizations led by the American Council on Education (ACE) challenged that ruling, arguing that the FCC’s interpretation of CALEA was unconstitutional under the Fourth Amendment. However, on June 9, 2006, the D.C. Circuit Court disagreed and summarily denied the petition


Carnivore (software)

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

(Redirected from Carnivore (FBI))
ContentsCarnivore, later renamed DCS1000, was a system implemented by the Federal Bureau of Investigation that was designed to monitor email and electronic communications. It used a customizable packet sniffer that can monitor all of a target user’s Internet traffic. Carnivore was implemented in October 1997. By 2005 it had been replaced with improved commercial software such as NarusInsight.[1]


Carnivore grew out of an earlier FBI project called “Omnivore”, which itself replaced an older surveillance tool migrated from the US Navy by FBI Director of Integrity and Compliance,[2] Patrick W. Kelley, which had a still undisclosed name. In September 1998, the FBI’s Data Intercept Technology Unit (DITU) in Quantico, Virginia, launched a project to migrate Omnivore from Sun’s Solaris operating system to a Windows NT platform. This was done to facilitate the miniaturization of the system and support a wider range of personal computer (PC) equipment. The migration project was called “Phiple Troenix” and the resulting system was named “Carnivore.”[3]


The Carnivore system was a Microsoft Windows-based workstation with packet-sniffing software and a removable Jaz disk drive.[4] This computer must be physically installed at an Internet service provider (ISP) or other location where it can “sniff” traffic on a LAN segment to look for email messages in transit. The technology itself was not highly advanced — it used a standard packet sniffer and straightforward filtering. The critical components of the operation were the filtering criteria. To accurately match the appropriate subject, an elaborate content model was developed.[5] An independent technical review of Carnivore for the Justice Department was prepared in 2000.[6]


Several groups expressed concern regarding the implementation, usage, and possible abuses of Carnivore. In July 2000, the Electronic Frontier Foundation submitted a statement to the Subcommittee on the Constitution of the Committee on the Judiciary in the United States House of Representatives detailing the dangers of such a system.[7] The Electronic Privacy Information Center also made several releases dealing with it.[8]

The FBI countered these concerns with statements highlighting the target-able nature of Carnivore. Assistant FBI Director Donald Kerr was quoted as saying:

The Carnivore device works much like commercial “sniffers” and other network diagnostic tools used by ISPs every day, except that it provides the FBI with a unique ability to distinguish between communications which may be lawfully intercepted and those which may not. For example, if a court order provides for the lawful interception of one type of communication (e.g., e-mail), but excludes all other communications (e.g., online shopping) the Carnivore tool can be configured to intercept only those e-mails being transmitted either to or from the named subject.

… [it] is a very specialized network analyzer or “sniffer” which runs as an application program on a normal personal computer under the Microsoft Windows operating system. It works by “sniffing” the proper portions of network packets and copying and storing only those packets which match a finely defined filter set programmed in conformity with the court order. This filter set can be extremely complex, and this provides the FBI with an ability to collect transmissions which comply with pen register court orders, trap & trace court orders, Title III interception orders, etc….

…It is important to distinguish now what is meant by “sniffing.” The problem of discriminating between users’ messages on the Internet is a complex one. However, this is exactly what Carnivore does. It does NOT search through the contents of every message and collect those that contain certain key words like “bomb” or “drugs.” It selects messages based on criteria expressly set out in the court order, for example, messages transmitted to or from a particular account or to or from a particular user.[9]

After prolonged negative coverage in the press, the FBI changed the name of its system from “Carnivore” to the more benign-sounding “DCS1000.” DCS is reported to stand for “Digital Collection System”; the system has the same functions as before.


The Associated Press reported in mid-January 2005 that the FBI essentially abandoned the use of Carnivore in 2001, in favor of commercially available software, such as NarusInsight, a mass surveillance system.[1] A report in 2007 described the successor system as being located “inside an Internet provider’s network at the junction point of a router or network switch” and capable of indiscriminately storing data flowing through the provider’s network.[10]

Lawful interception

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

Lawful interception (LI) is obtaining communications network data pursuant to lawful authority for the purpose of analysis or evidence. Such data generally consist of signalling or network management information or, in fewer instances, the content of the communications. If the data are not obtained in real-time, the activity is referred to as access to retained data (RD).

There are many bases for this activity that include infrastructure protection and cybersecurity. In general, the operator of public network infrastructure can undertake LI activities for those purposes. Operators of private network infrastructures have an inherent right to maintain LI capabilities within their own networks unless otherwise prohibited.

One of the bases for LI is the interception of telecommunications by law enforcement agencies (LEAs), regulatory or administrative agencies, and intelligence services, in accordance with local law. Under some legal systems, implementations—particularly real-time access to content—may require due process and receiving proper authorization from competent authorities—an activity that was formerly known as “wiretapping” and has existed since the inception of electronic communications. The material below primarily treats this narrow segment of LI.

With the legacy public switched telephone network (PSTN), wireless, and cable systems, lawful interception (LI) was generally performed by accessing the mechanical or digital switches supporting the targets’ calls. The introduction of packet switched networks, softswitch technology, and server-based applications the past two decades fundamentally altered how LI is undertaken.


Technical description

Almost all countries have LI capability requirements and have implemented them using global LI requirements and standards developed by the European Telecommunications Standards Institute (ETSI), 3rd Generation Partnership Project (3GPP), or CableLabs organisations—for wireline/Internet, wireless, and cable systems, respectively. In the USA, the comparable requirements are enabled by the Communications Assistance for Law Enforcement Act (CALEA), with the specific capabilities promulgated jointly by the Federal Communications Commission and the Department of Justice. In the USA, Lawful Intercept technology is currently patented by a company named under the USPTO Publication #: 20100150138.

To prevent investigations’ being compromised, LI systems may be designed in a manner that hides the interception from the telecommunications operator concerned. This is a requirement in some jurisdictions.

To ensure systematic procedures for carrying out interception, while also lowering the costs of interception solutions, industry groups and government agencies worldwide have attempted to standardize the technical processes behind lawful interception. One organization, ETSI, has been a major driver in lawful interception standards not only for Europe, but worldwide.

This architecture attempts to define a systematic and extensible means by which network operators and law enforcement agents (LEAs) can interact, especially as networks grow in sophistication and scope of services. Note this architecture applies to not only “traditional” wireline and wireless voice calls, but to IP-based services such as Voice over IP, email, instant messaging, etc. The architecture is now applied worldwide (in some cases with slight variations in terminology), including in the United States in the context of CALEA conformance. Three stages are called for in the architecture:

  1. collection where target-related “call” data and content are extracted from the network
  2. mediation where the data is formatted to conform to specific standards
  3. delivery of the data and content to the law enforcement agency (LEA).

The call data (known as Intercept Related Information or IRI in Europe and Call Data or CD in the US) consists of information about the targeted communications, including destination of a voice call (e.g., called party’s telephone number), source of a call (caller’s phone number), time of the call, duration, etc. Call content is namely the stream of data carrying the call. Included in the architecture is the lawful interception management function, which covers interception session set-up and tear down, scheduling, target identification, etc. Communications between the network operator and LEA are via the Handover Interfaces (designated HI). Communications data and content are typically delivered from the network operator to the LEA in an encrypted format over an IP-based VPN. The interception of traditional voice calls still often relies on the establishment of an ISDN channel that is set up at the time of the interception.

As stated above, the ETSI architecture is equally applicable to IP-based services where IRI (or CD) is dependent on parameters associated with the traffic from a given application to be intercepted. For example, in the case of email IRI would be similar to the header information on an email message (e.g., destination email address, source email address, time email was transmitted) as well as pertinent header information within the IP packets conveying the message (e.g., source IP address of email server originating the email message). Of course, more in-depth information would be obtained by the interception system so as to avoid the usual email address spoofing that often takes place (e.g., spoofing of source address). Voice-over-IP likewise has its own IRI, including data derived from Session Initiation Protocol (SIP) messages that are used to set up and tear down a VOIP call.

ETSI LI Technical Committee work today is primarily focussed on developing the new Retained Data Handover and Next Generation Network specifications, as well as perfecting the innovative TS102232 standards suite that apply to most contemporary network uses.

USA interception standards that help network operators and service providers conform to CALEA are mainly those specified by the Federal Communications Commission (which has both plenary legislative and review authority under CALEA), CableLabs, and the Alliance for Telecommunications Industry Solutions (ATIS). ATIS’s standards include new standards for broadband Internet access and VoIP services, as well as legacy J-STD-025B, which updates the earlier J-STD-025A to include packetized voice and CDMA wireless interception. All of these standards have been challenged as “deficient” by the U.S. Dept of Justice pursuant to CALEA.

Generic global standards have also been developed by Cisco via the Internet Engineering Task Force (IETF) that provide a front-end means of supporting most LI real-time handover standards.


The principal global treaty-based legal instrument relating to LI (including retained data) is the Convention on Cybercrime (Budapest, 23 Nov 2001). The secretariat for the Convention is the Council of Europe. However, the treaty itself has signatories worldwide and provides a global scope.

Individual countries have different legal requirements relating to lawful interception. The Global Lawful Interception Industry Forum lists many of these, as does the Council of Europe secretariat. For example, in the United Kingdom the law is known as RIPA (Regulation of Investigatory Powers Act), in the United States there is an array of federal and state criminal law, in Commonwealth of Independent States countries as SORM.


In the European Union, the European Council Resolution of 17 January 1995 on the Lawful Interception of Telecommunications (Official Journal C 329) mandated similar measures to CALEA on a pan-European basis.[1] Although some EU member countries reluctantly accepted this resolution out of privacy concerns (which are more pronounced in Europe than the US[citation needed]), there appears now to be general agreement with the resolution. Interestingly enough, interception mandates in Europe are generally more rigorous than those of the US; for example, both voice and ISP public network operators in the Netherlands have been required to support interception capabilities for years. In addition, publicly available statistics indicate that the number of interceptions in Europe exceed by many hundreds of times those undertaken in the U.S.[citation needed]

Europe continues to maintain its global leadership role in this sector through the adoption by the European Parliament and Council in 2006 of the far reaching Data Retention Directive. The provisions of the Directive apply broadly to almost all public electronic communications and require the capture of most related information, including location, for every communication. The information must be stored for a period of at least six months, up to two years, and made available to law enforcement upon lawful request. The Directive has been widely emulated in other countries.

United States of America

See also: Mass surveillance in the United States

In the United States, three Federal statutes authorize lawful interception. The 1968 Omnibus Crime Control and Safe Streets Act, Title III pertains mainly to lawful interception criminal investigations. The second law, the 1978 Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act, or FISA, as amended by the Patriot Act, governs wiretapping for intelligence purposes where the subject of the investigation must be a foreign (non-US) national or a person working as an agent on behalf of a foreign country. The Administrator of the U.S. Courts annual reports indicate that the federal cases are related to illegal drug distribution, with cell phones as the dominant form of intercepted communication.[citation needed]

During the 1990s, as in most countries, to help law enforcement and the FBI more effectively carry out wiretap operations, especially in view of the emerging digital voice and wireless networks at the time, the U.S. Congress passed the Communications Assistance for Law Enforcement Act (CALEA) in 1994.[2] This act provides the Federal statutory framework for network operator assistance to LEAs in providing evidence and tactical information. In 2005, CALEA was applied to public broadband networks Internet access and Voice over IP services that are interconnected to the Public Switched Telephone Network (PSTN).

In the 2000s, surveillance focus turned to terrorism. NSA warrantless surveillance outside the supervision of the FISA court caused considerable controversy. It was revealed in 2013 mass surveillance disclosures that since 2007, the National Security Administration has been collecting connection metadata for all calls in the United States under the authority of section 215 PATRIOT Act, with the mandatory cooperation of phone companies and with the approval of the FISA court and briefings to Congress. The government claims it does not access the information in its own database on contacts between American citizens without a warrant.

Lawful interception can also be authorized under local laws for state and local police investigations.


Global surveillance disclosures (2013–present)

Ongoing news reports in the international media have revealed operational details about the U.S. National Security Agency (NSA) and its international partners’ global surveillance[1] of foreign nationals and U.S. citizens. The reports mostly emanate from a cache of top secret documents leaked by ex-NSA contractor Edward Snowden, who obtained them while working for Booz Allen Hamilton, one of the largest contractors for defense and intelligence in the United States.[2] In addition to a trove of U.S. federal documents, Snowden’s cache reportedly contains thousands of Australian, British and Canadian intelligence files that he had accessed via the exclusive “Five Eyes” network. In June 2013, the first of Snowden’s documents were published simultaneously by The Washington Post and The Guardian, attracting considerable public attention.[3] The disclosure continued throughout the entire year of 2013, and a significant portion of the full cache of the estimated 1.7 million documents[4] was later obtained and published by many other media outlets worldwide, most notably The New York Times, the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation, the Australian Broadcasting Corporation, Der Spiegel (Germany), O Globo (Brazil), Le Monde (France), L’espresso (Italy), NRC Handelsblad (the Netherlands), Dagbladet (Norway), El País (Spain), and Sveriges Television (Sweden).[5]

These media reports have shed light on the implications of several secret treaties signed by members of the UKUSA community in their efforts to implement global surveillance. For example, Der Spiegel revealed how the German Bundesnachrichtendienst (BND) transfers “massive amounts of intercepted data to the NSA”,[6] while Sveriges Television revealed the National Defence Radio Establishment (FRA) provided the NSA with data from its cable collection, under a secret treaty signed in 1954 for bilateral cooperation on surveillance.[7] Other security and intelligence agencies involved in the practice of global surveillance include those in Australia (ASD), Britain (GCHQ), Canada (CSEC), Denmark (PET), France (DGSE), Germany (BND), Italy (AISE), the Netherlands (AIVD), Norway (NIS), Spain (CNI), Switzerland (NDB), as well as Israel (ISNU), which receives raw, unfiltered data of U.S. citizens that is shared by the NSA.[8][9][10][11][12][13][14][15]

On June 14, 2013, United States prosecutors charged Edward Snowden with espionage and theft of government property.[16] In late July 2013, he was granted a one year temporary asylum by the Russian government,[17] contributing to a deterioration of Russia–United States relations.[18][19] On August 6, 2013, U.S. President Barack Obama made a public appearance on national television where he reassured Americans that “We don’t have a domestic spying program” and “There is no spying on Americans”.[20] Towards the end of October 2013, the British Prime Minister David Cameron warned The Guardian not to publish any more leaks, or it will receive a DA-Notice.[21] Currently, a criminal investigation of the disclosure is being undertaken by Britain’s Metropolitan Police Service.[22] In December 2013, The Guardian editor Alan Rusbridger said: “We have published I think 26 documents so far out of the 58,000 we’ve seen.”[23]

The extent to which the media reports have responsibly informed the public is disputed. In January 2014 Obama said that “the sensational way in which these disclosures have come out has often shed more heat than light”[24] and critics such as Sean Wilentz have noted that many of the Snowden documents released do not concern domestic surveillance.[25] In its first assessment of these disclosures, The Pentagon concluded that Snowden committed the biggest “theft” of U.S. secrets in the history of the United States.[26] Sir David Omand, a former director of the GCHQ, described Snowden’s disclosure as the “most catastrophic loss to British intelligence ever”.[27]


Drug Enforcement Administration

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
“DEA” redirects here. For other uses, see DEA (disambiguation).
Drug Enforcement Administration
Abbreviation DEA
Seal of the Drug Enforcement Administration
DEA badge C.PNG
Badge of the Drug Enforcement Administration.
Flag of the United States Drug Enforcement Administration.svg
Flag of the Drug Enforcement Administration
Agency overview
Formed July 1, 1973
Preceding agencies
Employees 10,784 (2009)
Annual budget US$3 billion (FY2012)[1]
Legal personality Governmental: Government agency
Jurisdictional structure
Federal agency United States
General nature
Operational structure
Headquarters 600-700 Army-Navy Drive
Arlington, Virginia
Special Agents 4,890
Agency executives
Parent agency United States Department of Justice

The Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) is a United States federal law enforcement agency under the U.S. Department of Justice, tasked with combating drug smuggling and use within the United States. Not only is the DEA the lead agency for domestic enforcement of the Controlled Substances Act, sharing concurrent jurisdiction with the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) and Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE), it also has sole responsibility for coordinating and pursuing U.S. drug investigations abroad.

History and mandate

Map of the 21 DEA domestic field divisions: 1. Atlanta, 2. Boston, 3. Chicago, 4. Dallas, 5. Denver, 6. Detroit, 7. El Paso, 8. Houston, 9. Los Angeles, 10. Miami, 11. Newark, 12. New Orleans, 13. New York, 14. Philadelphia, 15. Phoenix, 16. San Diego, 17. San Francisco, 18. Seattle, 19. St. Louis, 20. Caribbean, 21. Washington, D.C.

The Drug Enforcement Administration was established on July 1, 1973, by Reorganization Plan No. 2 of 1973, signed by President Richard Nixon on July 28.[2] It proposed the creation of a single federal agency to enforce the federal drug laws as well as consolidate and coordinate the government’s drug control activities. Congress accepted the proposal, as they were concerned with the growing availability of drugs.[3] As a result, the Bureau of Narcotics and Dangerous Drugs (BNDD), the Office of Drug Abuse Law Enforcement (ODALE); approximately 600 Special Agents of the Bureau of Customs, Customs Agency Service; and, other federal offices merged to create the DEA.[4]

From the early 1970s, DEA headquarters was located at 1405 I (“Eye”) Street NW in downtown Washington, D.C. With the overall growth of the agency in the 1980s (owing to the increased emphasis on federal drug law enforcement efforts) and a concurrent growth in the headquarters staff, DEA began to search for a new headquarters location; locations in Arkansas, Mississippi, and various abandoned military bases around the U.S. were considered. However, then–Attorney General Edwin Meese determined that the headquarters had to be located in close proximity to the Attorney General’s office. Thus, in 1989, the headquarters relocated to 600–700 Army-Navy Drive in the Pentagon City area of Arlington, Virginia, near the Metro station with the same name.[5]

On April 19, 1995, Timothy McVeigh attacked the Alfred P. Murrah Federal Building in Oklahoma City because it housed regional offices for the FBI, Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives (ATF), and DEA, all of which had carried out raids that he viewed as unjustified intrusions on the rights of the people;[6] this attack caused the deaths of two DEA employees, one task force member, and two contractors in the Oklahoma City bombing. Subsequently, the DEA headquarters complex was classified as a Level IV installation under United States federal building security standards, meaning it was to be considered a high-risk law enforcement target for terrorists.[7] Security measures include hydraulic steel roadplates to enforce standoff distance from the building, metal detectors, and guard stations.[8]

In February 2003, the DEA established a Digital Evidence Laboratory within its Office of Forensic Sciences.[9]


Two DEA agents in a shoot house exercise.

The DEA is headed by an Administrator of Drug Enforcement appointed by the President of the United States and confirmed by the U.S. Senate. The Administrator reports to the Attorney General through the Deputy Attorney General.[10] The Administrator is assisted by a Deputy Administrator, the Chief of Operations, the Chief Inspector, and three Assistant Administrators (for the Operations Support, Intelligence, and Human Resources Divisions). Other senior staff include the chief financial officer and the Chief Counsel. The Administrator and Deputy Administrator are the only presidentially-appointed personnel in the DEA; all other DEA officials are career government employees. DEA’s headquarters is located in Arlington, Virginia across from the Pentagon. It maintains its own DEA Academy located on the United States Marine Corps base at Quantico, Virginia along with the FBI Academy. It maintains 21 domestic field divisions with 227 field offices and 86 foreign offices in 62 countries.[11] With a budget exceeding 2.415 billion dollars, DEA employs over 10,800 people, including over 5,500 Special Agents. Becoming a Special Agent with the DEA is a competitive process.


  • Administrator
    • Deputy Administrator
      • Human Resource Division
        • Career Board
        • Board of Professional Conduct
        • Office of Training
      • Operations Division
        • Aviation Division
        • Office of Operations Management
        • Special Operations Division
        • Office of Diversion Control
        • Office of Global Enforcement
        • Office of Financial Operations
      • Intelligence Division
      • Financial Management Division
        • Office of Acquisition and Relocation Management
        • Office of Finance
        • Office of Resource Management
      • Operational Support Division
        • Office of Administration
        • Office of Information System
        • Office of Forensic Science
        • Office of Investigative Technology
      • Inspection Division
        • Office of Inspections
        • Office of Professional Responsibility
        • Office of Security Programs
      • Field Divisions and Offices

Special Agents

DEA agents escort a Colombian drug lord extradited to the United States in 2005

After receiving a conditional offer of employment, recruits must then complete a 19-week rigorous training which includes lessons in firearms proficiency (including basic marksmanship), weapons safety, tactical shooting, and deadly-force decision training. In order to graduate, students must maintain an academic average of 80 percent on academic examinations, pass the firearms-qualification test, successfully demonstrate leadership and sound decision-making in practical scenarios, and pass rigorous physical-task tests. Upon graduation, recruits earn themselves the title of DEA Special Agent.

The DEA excludes from consideration job-applicants who have a history of any drug use. Investigation usually includes a polygraph test for special-agent, diversion-investigator, and intelligence research specialist positions.

Applicants who are found, through investigation or personal admission, to have experimented with or used narcotics or dangerous drugs, except those medically prescribed, will not be considered for employment with the Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA). Exceptions to this policy may be made for applicants who admit to limited youthful and experimental use of marijuana. Such applicants may be considered for employment if there is no evidence of regular, confirmed usage and the full-field background investigation and results of the other steps in the process are otherwise favorable.[12]

The DEA’s relatively firm stance on this issue contrasts with that of the Federal Bureau of Investigation, which in 2005 considered relaxing its hiring policy relevant to individual drug-use history.[13]

DEA Aviation Division logo

Aviation Division

The DEA Aviation Division or Office of Aviation Operations (OA) (formerly Aviation Section) is an airborne division based in Fort Worth Alliance Airport, Texas. The current OA fleet consists of 106 aircraft and 124 DEA pilots.[14]

The DEA shares a communications system with the Department of Defense for communication with state and regional enforcement independent of the Department of Justice and police information systems and is coordinated by an information command center called the El Paso Intelligence Center (EPIC) near El Paso, Texas.

Foreign-deployed Advisory and Support Teams

DEA agents burning hashish seized in Operation Albatross in Afghanistan, 2008.

Foreign-deployed Advisory and Support Teams are the enforcement arm of the DEA’s Drug Flow Attack Strategy.[15] Their stated mission is to “plan and conduct special enforcement operations; train, mentor, and advise foreign narcotics law enforcement units; collect and assess evidence and intelligence in support of U.S. and bilateral investigations.”[16]

As of January 2010, FAST fields five teams. One team is always stationed in Afghanistan conducting Counter Narcotics (CN), Counter Terrorism (CT), Direct Action (DA) missions. The remaining four teams are stationed at Marine Corps Base Quantico, Virginia. FAST originally was created to solely conduct missions in Afghanistan to disrupt the Afghan opium trade but has evolved into a global action arm for the U.S. Department of Justice and DEA.

Selection for FAST is extremely difficult; attrition rates are usually above 50%. Selection is rumored to last 8 weeks where events such as timed runs, timed ruck sack marches, land navigation and many other events are conducted daily. Once selection is complete, advanced training begins with emphasis in small unit tactics, and close quarters battle.

Special Operations Division

The DEA Special Operations Division (SOD) is a secretive division within the DEA, which forwards information from wiretaps, intercepts and databases from various sources to federal agents and local law enforcement officials. The SOD came under scrutiny following the 2013 mass surveillance disclosures.[17]


The DEA budget was directed toward three of five major goals of U.S. drug eradication:[18]

  • Demand reduction ($3.3 million) via anti-legalization education, training for law enforcement personnel, youth programs, support for community-based coalitions, and sports drug awareness programs.
  • Reduction of drug-related crime and violence ($181.8 million) funding state and local teams and mobile enforcement teams.


DEA agents’ primary service weapons are the Glock 22 and Glock 23 in .40 S&W caliber ammunition, and agents can also qualify to use the Glock 27 and SIG Pro in .40 S&W, and they also have the option of using the newly appointed Smith & Wesson M&P series pistol.

Special Agents may qualify with their own personally-owned handguns and certain handguns are allowed to be used with permission from the DEA Firearms office in Quantico, VA, but they are required to qualify on all assigned weapons quarterly.

Trained to use shoulder-fired weapons, the H&K UMP40 is the standard SMG of DEA, although the Colt 9mm SMG may also be issued. They are issued a LWRCI M6A2 carbine as their new personal duty service rifle and also the Rock River Arms CAR-15 and shotguns such as the Remington 870 are one of the weapons trained.

Impact on the drug trade

Main article: Illegal drug trade

The illegal drug trade is created by outlawing and restricting a good or service, therefore, the mandate and legislative authority of the DEA is the primary cause of illegal drug trading and its surrounding violence.[19] The enforcement of federal drug policy removes every ‘drug’ scheduled for DEA enforcement from the protection of the open market infrastructure, where information and commerce mutually exchanged from consenting parties are free and protected by free information, contractual obligations, property rights, and disputes resolution are adjudicated under the rule of law. With the removal of the protection under the rule of law; this subjects the good in question into a marketplace of coercion. Mutual exchange is subject to property rights violations by coercion through monopoly of force. It is this type of legal environment, which is known as a black market, the underground nature of these marketplaces makes legal enforcement of disclosure requirements and contractual obligations impossible. With both secrecy and lack of legal contractual obligations, grievances are no longer recognized under the law. With no possibility for legal redress, the participants who wish to engage in commerce may only enforce contractual agreements directly.

The difficulty of direct enforcement in the black market creates a demand for an alternative arbitrator to handle disputes. An arbitrator’s desirability is measured by its enforcement capability and legitimacy within the black market. This legitimacy is based on reputation and recognition. Thus, competing arbitrators in black markets attempt to gain reputability through organization. As competing arbitrators attempt to increase their reputation by expanding the territory over which they operate they often bribe or blackmail members of the legal and law enforcement systems in order to continue operation without legal harassment. Since these arbitrator organizations are not legally recognized, organizations materialize in the form of street gangs or organised crime. The DEA essentially cites the arbitrators’ means of enforcement, which usually take the form of intimidation, violence and/or kidnapping, as the primary byproduct of the good being exchanged, justifying continued measures to hunt sellers and buyers. Despite criticism for forcing participants into black markets and driving the violence surrounding drug trade by targeting all buyers and sellers, the DEA’s position is that the very transaction is the cause of violence, and has claimed on various occasions to have been successful at preventing violence and creating a safer marketplace.

In 2005, the DEA seized a reported $1.4 billion in drug trade related assets and $477 million worth of drugs.[20] According to the White House’s Office of Drug Control Policy, the total value of all of the drugs sold in the U.S. is as much as $64 billion a year,[21] giving the DEA an efficiency rate of less than 1% at intercepting the flow of drugs into and within the U.S. Critics of this theory (including recipient of the Nobel Memorial Prize in Economic Sciences, Milton Friedman, prior to his death a member of Law Enforcement Against Prohibition) point out that demand for illegal drugs is inelastic; the people who are buying drugs will continue to buy them with little regard to price, often turning to crime to support expensive drug habits when the drug prices rise. One recent study showed that the price of cocaine and methamphetamine is the highest it has ever been while the quality of both is at its lowest point ever.[22] This is contrary to a collection of data done by the Office of National Drug Control Policy, which states that purity of street drugs has increased, while price has decreased.[23][24][25] In contrast to the statistics presented by the DEA, the United States Department of Justice released data in 2003 showing that purity of methamphetamine was on the rise.[26]

Registration and licensing

Operation Somalia Express” was an 18-month investigation which included the coordinated takedown of a 44-member international narcotics-trafficking organization responsible for smuggling more than 25 tons of khat from the Horn of Africa to the United States.

The DEA has a registration system in place which authorizes medical professionals, researchers and manufacturers access to “Schedule I” drugs, as well as Schedules 2, 3, 4 and 5. Authorized registrants apply for and, if granted, receive a “DEA number“. An entity that has been issued a DEA number is authorized to manufacture (drug companies), distribute, research, prescribe (doctors, nurse practitioners and physician assistants, etc.) or dispense (pharmacy) a controlled substance.

Diversion control system

Many problems associated with drug abuse are the result of legitimately-manufactured controlled substances being diverted from their lawful purpose into the illicit drug traffic. Many of the analgesics, depressants and stimulants manufactured for legitimate medical use can often carry potential for dependence or abuse. Therefore those scheduled substances have been brought under legal control for prevention and population safety. The goal of controls is to ensure that these “controlled substances” are readily available for medical use, while preventing their distribution for illicit distribution and non-medical use. This can be a difficult task, sometimes providing difficulty for legitimate patients and healthcare providers while circumventing illegal trade and consumption of scheduled drugs.

Under federal law, all businesses which manufacture or distribute controlled drugs, all health professionals entitled to dispense, administer or prescribe them, and all pharmacies entitled to fill prescriptions must register with the DEA. Registrants must comply with a series of regulatory requirements relating to drug security, records accountability, and adherence to standards.

All of these investigations are conducted by Diversion Investigators (DIs). DIs conduct investigations to uncover and investigate suspected sources of diversion and take appropriate civil and administrative actions. Prescription Database Management Programs (PDMP) aid and facilitate investigation and surveillance.[citation needed]

MDMA DEA scheduling overturn

In 1985 MDMA and its analogues were under review by the American government as a drug for potential of abuse. During this time, several public hearings on the new drug were held by the DEA. Based on all of the evidence and facts presented at the time, the DEA’s administrative law judge did not see MDMA and its analogues as being of large concern and recommended that they be placed in Schedule III. The DEA administrator, expressing concern for abuse potential, overruled the recommendation and ruled that MDMA be put in Schedule I, the Controlled Substances Act‘s most restrictive category.[27][28][29]


Drug Enforcement Administration 25th Anniversary badge

The DEA has been criticized for placing highly restrictive schedules on a few drugs which researchers in the fields of pharmacology and medicine regard as having medical uses. Critics assert that some such decisions are motivated primarily by political factors stemming from the U.S. government’s War on Drugs, and that many benefits of such substances remain unrecognized due to the difficulty of conducting scientific research. A counterpoint to that criticism is that under the Controlled Substances Act it is the Department of Health and Human Services (through the Food and Drug Administration and the National Institute on Drug Abuse), not the DEA, which has the legal responsibility to make scientific and medical determinations with respect to drug scheduling; no drug can be scheduled if the Secretary of Health and Human Services recommends against it on a scientific or medical basis, and no drug can be placed in the most restrictive schedule (Schedule I) if DHHS finds that the drug has an accepted medical use. Jon Gettman‘s essay Science and the End of Marijuana Prohibition describes the DEA as “a fall guy to deflect responsibility from the key decision-makers” and opines, “HHS calls the shots when it comes to marijuana prohibition, and the cops at DEA and the general over at ONDCP take the heat.”[30]

The DEA is also criticized for focusing on the operations from which it can seize the most money,[31] namely the organized cross-border trafficking of marijuana. Some individuals contemplating the nature of the DEA’s charter advise that, based on danger, the DEA should be most focused on cocaine. Others suggest that, based on opiate popularity, the DEA should focus much more on prescription opiates used recreationally, which critics contend comes first before users switch to heroin.

Practitioners who legally prescribe medicine however must possess a valid DEA license. According to federal law the budget of the entire DEA is to be paid by these license fees. In 1984 a three-year license cost $25. In 2009 the fee for a three-year license was $551. Some have likened this approach to license fees unreasonable, “like making pilot licenses support the entire Federal Aviation Authority (FAA) budget.”


The total cost of the DEA from 1972 to 2009 according to the agency website was $536,367,800,000.00 with 10,784 employees in 2009. For the data available for the years 1986 to 2009, the average cost per arrest made was $9,893.09.[32]


Others, such as the Cato Institute[33] and the Drug Policy Alliance[34] criticize the very existence of the DEA and the War on Drugs as both hostile, and contrary, to the concept of civil liberties by arguing that anybody should be free to put any substance they choose into their own bodies for any reason, particularly when legal drugs such as alcohol, tobacco and prescription drugs are also open to abuse, and that any harm caused by a drug user or addict to the general public is a case of conflicting civil rights. Recurrently, billions of dollars are spent yearly, focusing largely on criminal law and demand reduction campaigns, which has resulted in the imprisonments of thousands of U.S. citizens.[35] Demand for recreational drugs is somewhat static as the market for most illegal drugs has been saturated, forcing the cartels to expand their market to Europe and other areas than the United States.[citation needed] United States federal law registers cannabis as a Schedule I drug,[36] yet it is common for illicit drugs such as cannabis to be widely available in most urban, suburban, and even rural areas in the United States, which leads drug legalization proponents to claim that drug laws have little effect on those who choose not to obey them, and that the resources spent enforcing drug laws are wasted. As it relates to the DEA specifically, the vast majority of individual arrests stemming from illegal drug possession and distribution are narrow and more local in scope and are made by local law enforcement officers, while the DEA tends to focus on larger, interstate and international distribution networks and the higher-ranking members of such organizations in addition to operating in conjunction with other local, state, and federal law enforcement agencies along U.S. borders.[citation needed]

Some groups advocate legalization of certain controlled substances under the premise that doing so may reduce the volume of illicit trafficking and associated crime as well as yield a valuable tax source, although some of the results of drug legalization have raised doubt about some of these beliefs. For example, marijuana is now available as a palliative agent, in Canada, with a medical prescription. Yet 86% of Canadians with HIV/AIDS, eligible for a prescription, continue to obtain marijuana illegally (AIDS Care. 2007 Apr;19(4):500-6.) However, this could be due to the availability or quality of illegal cannabis compared to provisions by government sources. Bureaucratic impediments may also discourage patients from actually attempting to receive it from the government.

Incarceration of Daniel Chong

An April 2012 DEA raid on a California home led to the incarceration of Daniel Chong for several days under conditions of neglect. The 23-year-old student attending the University of California, San Diego was taken into custody along with eight other people when the DEA executed a raid on a suspected MDMA distribution operation at a residence that he was visiting to celebrate the April 20 cannabis “holiday” known as “420“.[37][38][39] According to Chong, the DEA agents questioned him and told him that he could go home, one even offering him a ride home, but instead he was transferred to a holding cell and confined for five days without any food or water, although Chong said he ingested a powdery substance that was left for him, which was later found to be methamphetamine.[38] After five days and two failed suicide attempts, DEA agents found Chong. He was taken to the hospital, where he spent three days in intensive care, because his kidneys were close to failing. No criminal charges were filed against Chong. A DEA spokesperson stated that the extended detention was accidental and the acting special agent in charge of the San Diego DEA office issued an apology to Chong. Chong disputes the claim of accidental neglect, saying that DEA personnel ignored his calls for help. His attorney stated an intent to file a claim against the federal government and some members of California’s delegation to the Congress called for further investigation of the incident.[38][39][40]

Department of Justice Smart on Crime Program

On 12 August 2013, at the American Bar Association‘s House of Delegates meeting, Attorney General Eric Holder announced the “Smart on Crime” program, which is “a sweeping initiative by the Justice Department that in effect renounces several decades of tough-on-crime anti-drug legislation and policies.”[41][42] Holder said the program “will encourage U.S. attorneys to charge defendants only with crimes “for which the accompanying sentences are better suited to their individual conduct, rather than excessive prison terms more appropriate for violent criminals or drug kingpins…”[41][42] Running through Holder’s statements, the increasing economic burden of over-incarceration was stressed.[41][42] As of August 2013, the Smart on Crime program is not a legislative initiative but an effort “limited to the DOJ’s policy parameters.”[41][42]


The DEA was accused in 2005 by the Venezuelan government of collaborating with drug traffickers, after which President Hugo Chávez decided to end any collaboration with the agency. In 2007, after the U.S. State Department criticized Venezuela in its annual report on drug trafficking, the Venezuelan Minister of Justice reiterated the accusations: “A large quantity of drug shipments left the country through that organization,…[]..We were in the presence of a new drug cartel.”[43] In his 1996 series of articles and subsequent 1999 book, both titled Dark Alliance, journalist Gary Webb asserts that the DEA helped harbor Nicaraguan drug traffickers. Notably, they allowed Oscar Danilo Blandon political asylum in the USA despite knowledge of his cocaine trafficking organization.[44]

The government of Bolivia has also taken similar steps to ban the DEA from operating in the country. In September 2008, Bolivia and the US drastically reduced diplomatic ties with one another, each withdrawing ambassadors from the other country. This occurred soon after Bolivian president Evo Morales expelled all DEA agents from the country due to a revolt in the traditional coca-growing Chapare Province. The Bolivian government claimed that it could not protect the agents, and Morales further accused the agency of helping incite the violence, which claimed 30 lives. National agencies were to take over control of drug management.[45] Three years later, Bolivia and the US began to restore full diplomatic ties. However, Morales maintained that the DEA would remain unwelcome in the country, characterising it as an affront to Bolivia’s “dignity and sovereignty”.[46]

In the Netherlands, both the Dutch government and the DEA have been criticized for violations of Dutch sovereignty in drug investigations. According to Peter R. de Vries, a Dutch journalist present at the 2005 trial of Henk Orlando Rommy, the DEA has admitted to activities on Dutch soil. Earlier, then Minister of Justice Piet Hein Donner, had denied to the Dutch parliament that he had given permission to the DEA for any such activities, which would have been a requirement by Dutch law in order to allow foreign agents to act within the territory.[47]

Special Operations Division fabricated evidence trails

In 2013 Reuters published a report about the DEA’s Special Operations Division (SOD) stating that it conceals where an investigative trail about a suspect truly originates from and creates a parallel set of evidence given to prosecutors, judges, and defense lawyers. This DEA program mainly affects common criminals such as drug dealers. The concealment of evidence means the defendant is unaware how his or her investigation began and will be unable to request a review possible sources of exculpatory evidence. Exculpatory evidence may include biased witnesses, mistakes, or entrapment. Nancy Gertner, a former federal judge who had served from 1994 to 2011 and a Harvard Law School professor, stated that “It is one thing to create special rules for national security. Ordinary crime is entirely different. It sounds like they are phonying up investigations.”[48] Andrew O’Hehir of Salon wrote that “It’s the first clear evidence that the “special rules” and disregard for constitutional law that have characterized the hunt for so-called terrorists have crept into the domestic criminal justice system on a significant scale.”[49]

Cannabis Rescheduling

A 2014 report by the Multidisciplinary Association for Psychedelic Studies and the Drug Policy Alliance accuses the DEA of unfairly blocking the removal of cannabis from Schedule I. The report alleges that the methods employed by the DEA to achieve this include: delaying rescheduling petitions for years, overruling DEA administrative law judges, and systematically impeding scientific research.[50] The DEA continues to refuse the removal of cannabis from Schedule I despite wide-scale acceptance of the substance among the medical community, including 76% of doctors, for the treatment of various disease.[51][52][53]

Raids on medical marijuana dispensaries

People protesting medical marijuana raids

The DEA has taken a particularly strong stance on enforcement of the Controlled Substances Act on persons and organizations acting within state laws that allow medical cannabis cultivation and distribution.[54]

“The people of California and the County of Santa Cruz have overwhelmingly supported the provision of medical marijuana for people who have serious illnesses,” county Supervisor Mardi Wormhoudt told the San Francisco Gate. “These people (blocking the road) are people with AIDS and cancer and other grave illnesses. To attack these people, who work collectively and have never taken money for their work, is outrageous.”[55][56]

As a result, the Wo/Men’s Alliance for Medical Marijuana, with the City and County of Santa Cruz, has sued the DEA, Attorney General Michael Mukasey, and the ONDCP. The most recent court decision rejected the government’s motion to dismiss, which allows discovery to move forward. The American Civil Liberties Union hailed the decision as “a first-of-its-kind ruling.[57]

More recently, the DEA has escalated its enforcement efforts on the recently proliferated Los Angeles area medical cannabis collectives. On July 25, 2007, the DEA raided the California Patients Group, Hollywood Compassionate Collective, and Natural Hybrid (NHI Caregivers) in Hollywood, California.[citation needed] Earlier that day, the operators of those collectives participated in a press conference with LA City Council members announcing the City’s intention to regulate the collectives and asking the DEA to halt raids on collectives while the City drafted regulations.[citation needed] The dispensary operator of Natural Hybrid (NHI Caregivers) was forced to close down the collective due to the tremendous loss caused by the DEA conducted joint task force raid against them.