Source: Economic Times
27 December 2010
NEW YORK: The US Drug Enforcement Administration , an agency tasked with the job of tracking drug traffickers around the world, has over the years transformed into a global intelligence organisation with its tentacles extending far beyond narcotics, according to secret American diplomatic cables .
The organisation has an eavesdropping operation so expansive it has to fend off foreign politicians who want to use it against their political enemies, the New York Times reported on Sunday, quoting a cache of cables published by WikiLeaks . The body’s vast network of informants also had on its roll David Headley, an accused in the Mumbai attacks case, who worked as a double agent for the DEA.
In far greater detail than previously seen, the cables offer glimpses of drug agents balancing diplomacy and law enforcement in places where it can be hard to tell the politicians from the traffickers, and where drug rings are themselves mini-states whose wealth and violence permit them to run roughshod over struggling governments, the report said.
Quoting the cables, the report cities an example when the President of Panama sent an urgent message to the American ambassador, demanding that the DEA go after his political enemies: “I need help with tapping phones.”
In Sierra Leone, a major cocaine-trafficking prosecution was almost upended by the attorney general’s attempt to solicit $2.5 million in bribes. In Guinea, the country’s biggest narcotics kingpin turned out to be the president’s son, and diplomats discovered that before the police destroyed a huge narcotics seizure, the drugs had been replaced by flour.
Leaders of Mexico’s beleaguered military issued private pleas for closer collaboration with the drug agency, confessing that they had little faith in their own country’s police forces.
Cables from Myanmar, the target of strict United States sanctions, describe the drug agency informants’ reporting both on how the military junta enriches itself with drug money and on the political activities of the junta’s opponents.
Officials of the DEA and the State Department declined to discuss what they said was information that should never have been made public, the Times said.
Though the cables did not offer large disclosures, they provided an insight into the story of how an entrepreneurial agency operating in the shadows of the FBI has become something more than a drug agency, the report said.
The DEA now has 87 offices in 63 countries and close partnerships with governments that keep the Central Intelligence Agency at arm’s length.Republish