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The Department of Justice’s Office of Inspector General (OIG) released an audit of Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) adoptive seizure process and equitable sharing requests. A couple of quick notes:

1.) Of instances involving federal adoption of assets seized, 65% of reported samples [41 of the 63 examined samples] required DEA headquarter approval to adopt the seizure because the instance lacked all of the following criteria:

  1. the seizure was based on a federal or state judicial seizure warrant;
  2. an arrest was made for a felony violation of the Controlled Substances Act or an equivalent state felony charge that would be a felony if pursued under federal law; and/or
  3. drugs or other contraband associated with a federal felony drug offense were also confiscated at the time of seizure.

2.) The OIG report notes “for the period of October 1, 2000, through September 30, 2011, the DEA and other federal agencies processed over 150,644 seized assets valued at about $9.2 billion of which $5.5 billion (60 percent) originated from seizures processed by the DEA and $3.7 billion (40 percent) originated from seizures processed by other federal agencies.” [Another $522 million in DEA seizured assets was noted but omitted from analysis for a lack of equitable sharing requests.]

3.) The OIG report features a disturbing trend line and reproduces a misguided–but revealing–definition of forfeiture:

The DOJ Criminal Division defines forfeiture as “the taking of property derived from a crime, involved in a crime, or that which makes a crime easier to commit or harder to detect without compensating the owner.”

 4.)  The DEA has not been making and preserving records of adoption requests that it denied. At the suggestion of the OIG, the DEA will begin doing so.

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