DEA Jurisdiction & Investigative Priorities


The jurisdiction of the Drug Enforcement agency is extensive, permitting their agents to work at multiple levels to help put a stop to illegal drug trafficking throughout the United States and at an international level.

Local Level – At the local level, the DEA can work with city police to identify major drug activity affecting certain communities. Special agents can help to infiltrate drug gangs and reduce drug-related violence. Local policing agencies can benefit from access to the DEA managed national drug intelligence program and special investigative services of nearby DEA offices.

State Level – At the state level, special agents aim to help facilitate and stop the transport of drugs across state lines. With jurisdiction across all 50 states, DEA agents can demonstrate a presence across the country and in the states which are demonstrating an increased illicit drug problem.

Federal Level – The goal of the of the Drug Enforcement Administration at the federal level is clear cut – manage the distribution, manufacturing and dispensing of controlled substances into and out of the United States. Agents will frequently develop tactics to protect our international borders and monitor the importation of substances which threaten to penetrate our country. Under certain circumstances the DEA will also work in conjunction with other federal agencies, such as the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI), to complete certain assignments and gather intelligence.

International Level – Oftentimes in order to facilitate the transport of drugs into the United States the DEA must work with Interpol, the United Nations and other international agencies to develop control programs and identify potential threats. These international relationships are vital to stopping large drug trafficking schemes.

Because the DEA has such a vast jurisdiction it not only allows the agency to help complete their mission, but it offers agents an opportunity to expand their influences and become an integral part of enforcing the Controlled Substances Act. It is important to understand that for this same reason special agents are required to be mobile and willing to transfer when required.

Investigative Priorities

The Drug Enforcement Administration has a number of important investigative priorities which every agent works towards fulfilling. Because the focus of this agency is substance control throughout the country, they focus on criminal activity that has to do with distribution, manufacturing and trafficking of all controlled substances.

According to the DEA and the Department of Justice, there are dozens of narcotics on the controlled substances list which threaten the American people. As DEA special agents, it is their job to investigate drug-related crimes with the hopes of bringing those responsible to justice and reducing the threat to the public.

Identifying Narcotics Problems – Utilizing the national drug intelligence program, local police agencies and undercover intelligence, the DEA makes it a priority to identify the major narcotics threats throughout the country.

Infiltrating Criminal Organizations – It is through their investigations and analysis that the DEA can work to infiltrate criminal organizations inside and outside of our borders that are exacerbating the drug problems of our country.

Prosecuting the Criminals – It is top priority for those individuals who have been tied to narcotics manufacturing, distribution and trafficking to be brought to justice. It is for this reason that the DEA participates in the prosecution process of all known violators who affect our communities and terrorize citizens.

Reducing Availability – Another priority which the DEA notes as a priority is that of ultimately reducing the availability of narcotics to the public. By successfully completing the agencies other priorities, it becomes possible for our communities to reduce the amount of available narcotics and to help keep drugs off our streets. While this is high priority for the DEA, it is important to recognize that local, state and other federal policing agencies play a role in making this happen, especially when these agencies work in conjunction with one another.

While drug-related crimes might seem like a small portion of the criminal threats that affect the United States, it is important to understand the DEA was formed out of a need to address the severity of these problems. The job of the DEA and their special agents is no small task, and for that reason this agency was formed and the men and women who are a part of it are so critical to national security and safety.


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