- The Washington Times - Thursday, December 19, 2002

The Drug Enforcement Administration's top deputy, John B. Brown III, is gaining support among rank-and-file agents for appointment by President Bush as DEA administrator with the pending departure of Asa Hutchinson to the new Department of Homeland Security.
Mr. Brown, a 30-year DEA veteran, was picked by 73 percent of those responding to a Web site known as "DEA Watch" as their first choice for the agency's top spot.
The unofficial site, which often is critical of DEA's senior leadership, also gave him a rating of "excellent" in a job-performance poll of agency supervisors.
"John Brown would be an ideal pick to head the agency," said one veteran DEA agent. "Having spent most of his adult life with the DEA and its predecessor agency, the Bureau of Narcotics and Dangerous Drugs, he knows what we do and why. He is a dedicated law enforcement official with no other aspirations but to be a part of DEA."
Mr. Hutchinson was nominated last month by Mr. Bush as the Department of Homeland Security's undersecretary for border and transportation security. In that role, he will be charged with securing the nation's borders and transportation infrastructures and bringing together the myriad agencies assigned to accomplish the task.
He will be responsible for a plan to prevent terrorists from gaining entry to the country and for securing the country's borders, territorial waters, ports and terminals. Mr. Hutchinson also will oversee the inspection, immigration and enforcement functions of the Customs Service, the Immigration and Naturalization Service and other federal agencies, including the Border Patrol.
Mr. Hutchinson's nomination comes at a time of growing dissent within DEA over his performance as administrator. The former Republican congressman from Arkansas, sworn in as DEA chief in August 2001, received a "satisfactory" rating in the DEA Watch job-performance poll. Several veteran agents believe he has presided over a decline in enforcement operations and a lessening of morale within the agency.
Mr. Brown was nominated by Mr. Bush as deputy administrator in October 2001.
"Success in a law enforcement career is in large part dependent upon the quality of one's co-workers, and I have been blessed in that regard for the last 30 years," he told reporters at the time. "I am most honored to have the opportunity to give my fullest efforts to my country, law enforcement and especially the Drug Enforcement Administration."
As the agency's top deputy, he is responsible for the DEA's daily operations. He administers policy and direction through the operational and executive staff, chairs the agency's career board and serves as acting administrator in Mr. Hutchinson's absence.
Mr. Brown began his law enforcement career in 1969 as a Brockport, N.Y., police officer and was hired as a special agent for the U.S. Bureau of Narcotics and Dangerous Drugs (BNDD) in the Buffalo, N.Y., office in 1972. He has served as a drug agent in Mazatlan, Mexico, and was the agent in charge of the DEA office in Merida, Mexico.
He also was assigned to Miami as group supervisor in the Florida Joint Task Force and served as group supervisor of the Caribbean Enforcement Group in Miami. He later worked as an inspector and then senior inspector in the DEA Office of Professional Responsibility and served at DEA headquarters in Washington as the agency's deciding official for disciplinary matters.

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