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Inside the DEA

DEA agents with gun and shield checking out a house

Tough job. Vital mission.

Those words have special meaning in our complex world. Even though the Drug Enforcement Administration has been around since 1973, many people aren't familiar with the agency's responsibilities, mission, and impact on Americans' day-to-day lives. DEA performs an important law enforcement mission across America and in more than 50 countries around the globe.

What does DEA do? 

  • Makes cases against the world's most dangerous and powerful drug lords
  • Finds links between terrorists and drug traffickers
  • Tracks drug finances through international banking systems
  • Busts meth labs in middle America
  • Keeps city streets safe from drug gangs

From Colombia to Afghanistan and from Los Angeles to New York, DEA agents, investigators, analysts, chemists, lawyers, and support staff all work together to make sure drug traffickers are brought to justice. And that’s no small task in a world where the drug supply begins in makeshift heroin conversion labs along the Pakistan-Afghan border, or in a pill mill in the Netherlands, or in a meth lab in a motel in a Midwestern town, or in a booby-trapped pot farm in Appalachia.

What Is DEA?

DEA was created in 1973 as the nation's top federal drug law enforcement agency. Today, the agency has evolved into a modern and sophisticated organization of men and women dedicated to keeping our nation safe from drug trafficking and drug abuse. 

DEA has 223 domestic offices in 21 divisions throughout the United States and has 86 foreign offices in 67 countries.  

DEA enforces the country's federal drug laws by investigating and prosecuting individuals who grow, manufacture, or distribute drugs within the United States and those who bring drugs into the United States from foreign countries. DEA also tracks down individuals who "divert" drugs from the legal market—mostly prescription drugs—and follows drug-related money that traffickers try to hide.

DEA's Major Cases: What Have We Done for You Lately?

DEA has put many drug traffickers and organizations out of business. We work with other federal agencies, state and local law enforcement, and foreign law enforcement organizations to share resources and get the job done. DEA has been successful in dismantling major drug rings including: 

  • The Medellin and Cali cartels in Colombia
  • Major groups operating in Mexico
  • Cocaine and heroin organizations working on US streets
  • The largest LSD manufacturing laboratory in the US

DEA has a worldwide presence, and continues to grow.