Enforcement efforts under pressure
Enforcement of the nation's drug laws, a core function of the federal government, has been neglected by the Clinton Administration. The Administration's inattention to drug law enforcement was reflected in its fiscal year 1995 budget, which would have cut a total of 621 drug enforcement positions from the Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA), Federal Bureau of Investigations (FBI), Immigration and Naturalization Service (INS), U.S. Customs Service, and U.S. Coast Guard. (Note 23) Congress wisely restored a number of these proposed cuts, although the DEA still lost 227 agent positions between September 1992 and September 1995. (Note 24)
Rather than arguing for cuts, the increasing power and sophistication of Colombian and Mexican trafficking organizations underscore the need for a robust, well-coordinated federal drug control effort.
A single recent case against the Cali drug mafia-Operation FOXHUNT -- illustrates the magnitude of the challenge facing drug law enforcement in the 1990s. "FOXHUNT" is the code name given to a two-year DEA investigation of a major Cali Cartel transportation op-eration centered in Los Angeles. The investigation targeted two Colombian "transportation directors" responsible for the movement of multi-ton quantities of cocaine from main distribution points in Los Angeles to wholesale distributors in New York City, San Francisco, and Chicago. The Cali mafia's skillful compartmentalization meant that the two directors, or "cell heads," were not aware of the Cartel's other smuggling activities.
By the time the investigation had been concluded in October 1994, some 55 agencies and State and local police departments had been involved, six tons of cocaine had been seized, and more than 220 suspects had been indicted-including the two cell heads.
Cases of this unprecedented magnitude have required investigators and U.S. Attorneys to develop new techniques to ensure interagency co-ordination and efficient case management. Because senior managers in Colombia and Mexico typically control even the most innocuous activi-ties of their U.S.-based subordinates, cases like FOXHUNT have also relied heavily on penetrating trafficker communications.
Ready trafficker access to illegally altered cellular phones and digi-tal pagers, as well the advent of new communications technologies such as digital cellular phones and Personal Communications Services (PCS) devices, has seriously complicated the task of federal law enforcement agencies as they seek to build cases and bring traffickers to justice. The Senate Committee on the Judiciary has received and is considering legislative proposals to address these and other law enforcement concerns.