The FBI's Drug Problem

The FBI's Drug Problem
Posted by FoM on December 30, 1999 at 09:38:39 PT
By Charles Smith
Source: WorldNetDaily
A recent government audit shows that the Federal Bureau of Investigation has a drug problem. The December report, a General Accounting Office audit of seized drugs held by the FBI, states that there were "numerous discrepancies between the actual weight of drug items and the weight recorded on attached evidence labels." 
Titled "Seized Drugs and Firearms: FBI Needs to Improve Certain Physical Safeguards and Strengthen Accountability" (GAO/AIMD-00-18), the report found both "shortages and overages" of confiscated narcotics in FBI hands. "We noted numerous discrepancies between the actual weight of drug items observed during our testing and the weight of these items recorded on attached evidence labels," states the General Accounting Office report. "Although many of the weight variances involved only several grams, larger discrepancies included a shortage of 269 grams of heroin and an overage of 3.9 kilograms of cocaine." In fact, over half of the selected drug seizures held by the FBI failed to pass the government audit. The government auditors found that 90 of the 140 drug items reviewed for weight variances had differences between weights recorded on evidence labels and weights observed when FBI personnel weighed the items for the audit. "The variances we observed ranged from about 1 gram to 269 grams for the 24 items that were lighter when reweighed, and ranged from about 1 gram to 3. 9 kilograms for the 66 items that were heavier," states the report. "Although many of the variances involved only several grams, we identified at least one item in each field office where the observed weight was substantially less than the recorded weight," noted the report. "For example, the weight recorded by DEA on the evidence label for seized heroin, which was in the custody of the Miami Field Office, was 541.8 grams. However, the weight we observed was 273 grams, a shortage of close to 50 percent from the DEA-recorded weight." The audit also found that 14 of the 140 drug items selected for audit did not have a weight recorded on the item's evidence label. The government auditors noted that they "could not determine whether there was a weight variance between the observed weight and the recorded weight on the label for these 14 items." Overages and shortages of seized drugs at the FBI are not the only problems faced by the federal law enforcement agency. The massive U.S. government war against drugs has filled evidence vaults to the point of bursting. The General Accounting Office audit of the New York FBI Field Office revealed "instances in which either the evidence was improperly sealed or evidence boxes appeared to have been broken open from the weight of other stacked evidence boxes." For the most part, according to the audit, the FBI has some security around the vaults. There were, however, glaring weaknesses that allowed easy access to FBI drug evidence. At the New York FBI Field Office, the government auditors "identified a grate located about 1 foot off the ground that reportedly could easily be pried open and allow for direct entry into the vault." The government audit also found that criminal evidence far more dangerous than narcotics was being handled outside of the official FBI storage areas. The audit identified confiscated firearms that had not been certified as rendered safe. "At the four field offices we reviewed, we identified cases where firearms were not certified as rendered safe in accordance with FBI policy," the report states. "According to the FBI Evidence Program Manager, firearms not submitted for storage are not required to be certified as rendered safe by a firearms instructor," states the audit report. "However, according to this official, FBI agents are knowledgeable in the handling of weapons and, after acquiring a firearm, will remove the ammunition thereby rendering the weapon safe." John Carman, a career Customs agent and former Secret Service agent who has charged Customs with widespread corruption in an exclusive WorldNetDaily investigative report disputes the FBI assertions that such firearms are "safe." "I have personally found 'unsecured' seized weapons in the unlocked drawers of the Customs security office while I was doing a security sweep prior to the beginning of the midnight shift. I found a 9mm semi-automatic handgun that was just lying above some locked gun lockers. There was ammunition nearby, and anybody could have taken this weapon and used it," noted Carman. "According to the paperwork on the previous two shifts, this weapon was 'seized' and I discovered that the serial number was also incorrectly recorded. Someone could have stolen that weapon for themselves, and Customs wouldn't have the correct serial numbers," stated Carman. "Some of that stuff is just plain sloppiness and inaccurate records keeping," stated Carman. "Even Customs has special personnel to correct certain discrepancies within reason. FBI Evidence Supervisor Frederick Whitehurst became a whistle-blower for the same types of discrepancies." "That is the problem when you have total control over someone and there are situations where no one will miss something if it's the right situation," concluded Carman, who spent most of his working life as a federal law enforcement agent. "It happens in the field more than you can imagine. Border Patrol friends of mine have told me the same happens in the deserted areas that they work and they are their own 'supervisors.'" Carman's conclusion that evidence seized by federal agents may disappear without a trace is also supported by the FBI's own internal audit. According to the December audit, the most recent FBI internal inspections of field offices identified similar findings involving the improper storage of drug evidence and weaknesses in physical access controls. While the government audit noted that small amounts of drugs disappeared from FBI custody, the total amount of missing drugs may never be known because of bad FBI record keeping. "We noted inadequate documentation for certain bulk drug seizures at two of the four selected field offices we visited," states the audit report. "We identified two bulk seizures of cocaine that were made by FBI agents in the New York Field Office for which critical documentation related to disposition and destruction was missing." "In one case, FBI records indicated that approximately 450 kilograms of cocaine were seized on November 25, 1997. In another case, the records indicated that about 320 kilograms of cocaine were seized on December 17, 1997. Notification letters for these bulk seizures were prepared only after we had brought this issue to the attention of FBI personnel, which was about a year after the seizures," according to the government auditors. "In addition, although the FBI obtained written approval to destroy these drugs prior to their disposal, there was no documentary evidence supporting the destruction of either bulk seizure," states the audit report. "In response to our inquiries regarding the missing documentation, FBI personnel prepared documents which described the circumstances of each destruction. The documents, however, were not signed or initialed by any of the persons listed as having witnessed the destruction." The government auditor determined that the FBI handling of drug evidence has already made a serious impact on prosecution. "The FBI's ability to account for drug and firearm evidence was hampered at one or more of the four field offices we reviewed by incomplete and missing information on chain of custody." "Drug and firearm evidence must be accounted for completely and accurately to help ensure that such evidence is not compromised for federal prosecution purposes and is protected against the risk of theft, misuse, and loss," concluded the audit report.   Thursday December 30, 1999 1999, Inc. Related Article & Web Site:Common Sense For Drug Policy in Research Lightly Monitored - 12/29/99
Home Comment Email Register Recent Comments Help

Comment #1 posted by Chris Campbell on December 30, 1999
 at 20:58:15 PT:
pushing me close to madness.
And so it goes.
[ Post Comment ]

Post Comment

Name: Optional Password: 
Comment: [Please refrain from using profanity in your message]
Link URL: 
Link Title: