- The Washington Times - Friday, February 19, 2016

The Drug Enforcement Administration is leaving illicit drugs it has seized vulnerable to theft or tampering, according to a new federal report.

The DEA is doing such a poor job documenting, tracking and relocating seized drugs that the security of the drugs has been compromised as well as their utility in court cases, according to the report published Thursday by the Department of Justice’s Office of Inspector General.

“Gaps in the formal documentation of the chain of custody for drug exhibits can compromise the security of the drugs and jeopardize the government’s ability to use the evidence in court proceedings,” the report said.

Nearly 70 percent of the seizures examined in the report were not placed in temporary storage within the maximum three days after seizure. During that period, the drug “exhibits” are not entered into the DEA’s comprehensive tracking system.

The DEA also did not track third-party shipping vendors used when the laboratory the seizures are sent to is far enough away.

“We believe that the longer a shipment is in transit or missing, the higher the likelihood that theft or tampering of the drug exhibit can occur,” the IG wrote.

The DEA could not locate documents tracking incoming drug seizures in 9 percent of the cases investigated in the report.

In other cases the DEA did not record the full information required for drug exhibits, such as the total weight of the drugs seized. If drugs were later tampered with, DEA officials would have no way of comparing.

The inspector general made nine recommendations for improvement to the DEA, all of which the agency agreed to address.

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