ICE Given Power to Investigate Drug Crimes

By Matthew Harwood

An unspecified number of Immigration and Customs Enforcements (ICE) agents will be given the ability to investigate drug crimes at the U.S. border, long the jurisdiction of Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) agents, according to a joint statement from Secretary of Homeland Security Janet Napolitano and Attorney General Eric Holder.

The agreement, the joint statement says, puts an end to turf wars between the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) and the Department of Justice (DOJ) in an effort "to protect the American people from violence and criminal activity along our borders." DHS and the DOJ are the parent organizations of ICE and the DEA, respectively.

"Giving ICE agents the authority to investigate drug trafficking cases, enhancing information sharing capabilities between ICE and the DEA, and ensuring full participation in intelligence centers will strengthen our efforts to combat international narcotics smuggling, streamline operations and bring better intelligence to our front line personnel," said the joint statement.

The agreement today specifically gives Title 21 authority, or the ability to investigate drug crimes, which rests with the DEA, to an unlimited and yet to be determined amount of ICE agents.

According to DHS spokeswoman Amy Kudwa, "ICE Assistant Secretary John Morton may select for cross-designation an unlimited number of ICE agents to tackle drug smuggling with a clear nexus to the border in coordination with DEA."

This agreement comes after a New York Times op-ed on Monday, in which a former Department of Homeland Security (DHS) official argued a turf war between ICE and the DEA had made it impossible for ICE agents to investigate drug crimes at the border because of the DEA's territoriality, thus harming national security.

According to Bradley C. Schreiber, who the Times described as a former senior adviser at DHS from 2007 to 2009, not giving ICE Title 21 authority at the border made no sense from a national security perspective.

Immigration and Customs Enforcement is the largest investigative arm of the Department of Homeland Security and, under current law, its agents can investigate any crime with a connection to the American border, from weapons trafficking to child pornography. Any crime, that is, except drug crimes. The ability to investigate such crimes, known as Title 21 authority, rests with the Drug Enforcement Administration, which is part of the Department of Justice.

The agreement today, said the joint statement, is evidence that the two departments have moved "past old disputes."

♦ Photo by borderhacker/Flickr


DHS and ICE created by FBI

Oh, I forgot to tell you.  The first DHS Secretary, Tom Ridge, and the first ICE Assistant Secretary, Michael J. Garcia, are both married to FBI employees/agents ;-)

And even before 9/11, Customs was already condcuting money laundering investigations. As you may recall, Customs was under the US Dept of Treasury together with Secret Service, IRS, and the ATF.  Therefore, it has the network/infrastructure and technical knowledge.  In fact, after 9/11, Customs launched Operation Green Quest, which targeted terrorist financing.  It was so successful that the FBI took it over and did not even bother to change its name.  I guess Hoover really had the names in the US Congress.  Imagine, FBI is going to 13,000 strong when ICE is only 5,000 yet again ICE has more achievements per agents compared with the FBI.

If it ain't broke, don't fix it.  What we need is a Centralized Intelligence Agency and not a de-Central Intelligence Agency.  FBI has also ventured to intellgence as you know and the CIA does not like it.  This is where the turf war is, in Intelligence.  Therefore, until we re-organize ICE and CBP as well as FBI and CIA, the war on drugs and terrorism will just get more out of hand.



No Turf War - ICE is the primary agency for drugs at the border

FYI, the Drug Enforcement Administration is only the primary investigative agency domestically not at the border. If it were then the "C" (Customs) in ICE (Immigration and Customs Enforcement) will not mean anything. As you know ICE was created in 2003 as a result of 9/11. its two agencies merged into one, the US Customs Service founded in 1789 and the Immigration and Naturalization Service. These agencies were created in response to 9/11 for failure of US intelligence, when in freality, these agencies are not intelligence agencies. They are not to blame but maybe the CIA and FBI? The US Government did not overhaul the intelligence, they still do not share. It just created a fatter government.

Another good trivial history to know is that the DEA was created by former US Customs Service agents. In 1970s, the US Customs Special Agent in Charge literally walked into the office and told agents that half of you will stay in Customs and half of you will go to DEA.

Also, unlike the FBI, the US Customs Service do not hold as much press conferences nor they waste 200 Special Agents to work full time as "Public Affairs" officers. Yet, 2500 Customs Special Agents are much much more productive than 11,000 FBI agents combined :-)

More importantly, Customs now ICE can ONLY investigate crimes coming from the border. Therefore, ICE is the only US agency that has border search authority and the only agency whose cases are trans-national crimes or border-crossing crimes.

ICE investigates arms/drugs trafficking, human trafficking/smuggling, money-laundering, child pornography/child sex tourism, Intellectual Property Righs/Copyrights violation, car theft smuggling, other contraband smuggling, customs fraud nd other trade fraud.

You know why this spill over? Because as I stated, ICE was created in 2003 merging FEDERAL AGENTS from TWO AGENCIES BUT SEPARATING its officers (uniform branch). It is the only "police department" whose uniform and detectives belong from DIFFERENT agencies, ICE and CBP (Customs and Border Protection). So when CBP gets a lead at the border, majority of these do not reach ICE. CBP is happy just to seize the drugs but not follow the drugs and/or dismantle its network, which ICE is supposed to do.

We need to merge CBP and ICE. CBP isa revenue generating agency from collecting customs and immigration fees, ICE is not. if merged, ICE will have more cooperation at the border and more operational funding to go with it.

ICE jurisdiction

Anyone have the exact Code of Federal Regulations that specifically defines the jurisdiction of ICE and FPS?

How about other rules and regulations defining their jurisdiction? 

What regulations would allow ICE to investigate a private corporation with no ties/history or suspicion to terrorism, illegal immigration, importing, overseas holdings or bank accounts, or money laundering.  The corporation is not affiliated with the Federal government and is incorporated in one of the US states. 

That doesn't sound like somthing for ICE

I don't think this would be in their jurisdictio. Hopefully they'll be able to stop mroe drugs entering the country which would help make neighbourhoods like the Bronx a bit safer. People have to maintain their own


no matter where they live but in neighbourhoods where drug selling is obvious it will be vital to cut the import.

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