With Its Recent Turmoil, High Profile Departures, 'DEA' Stands for Drug Enablement Agency

Katie Pavlich/Townhall Media

With fentanyl flowing unchecked across our Southern border, the United States Drug Enforcement Agency (DEA) has come under increased scrutiny. Despite decades of increased funding for the agency to combat one so-called “war on drugs” or another, fentanyl-related deaths of 100,000 and climbing continue to plague the nation, many of those deaths involving children under the age of 18. The Left-wing site Salon is even calling for this agency to be eliminated because of its decades-long failure to stem these drug-fueled crises.


As a fish rots from the head, it appears that the problems with the DEA have their roots in the leadership. DEA head Anne Milgram has recently come under fire, and now the second-in-command has resigned after the release of new information on his role in consulting with pharmaceutical company Purdue. Some consider the company the architect of the opioid crisis.

The U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration’s second-in-command has quietly stepped down amid reporting by The Associated Press that he once consulted for a pharmaceutical distributor sanctioned for a deluge of suspicious painkiller shipments and did similar work for the drugmaker that became the face of the opioid epidemic: Purdue Pharma.

Louis Milione’s four years of consulting for Big Pharma preceded his 2021 return to the DEA to serve as Administrator Anne Milgram’s top deputy, renewing concerns in the agency and beyond about the revolving door between government and industry and its potential impact on the DEA’s mission to police drug companies blamed for tens of thousands of American overdose deaths.

“Quietly” is the operative word here. This departure comes just a few weeks before former DEA Special Operations Division head Derek Maltz’s testimony before the House Homeland Security Committee, the Daily Caller News Foundation reports exclusively:

A former senior Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) official will testify to Congress Wednesday that the Biden administration’s handling of the fentanyl crisis “makes no sense,” according to a copy of his testimony first obtained by the Daily Caller News Foundation.

Derek Maltz, former head of the DEA’s Special Operations Division, will testify before the House Homeland Security Committee in a hearing entitled, “Biden and Mayorkas’ Open Border: Advancing Cartel Crime in America” that the Biden administration has failed to aggressively respond to the drug crisis, according to the copy of his testimony. Fentanyl is largely responsible for the more than 100,000 overdose deaths that occurred in the U.S. in 2021, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).


Maltz was electric and insistent in his opening remarks on Wednesday. Maltz called out the Biden Administration’s porous border which enables cartels, and stated that fentanyl is a chemical weapon, the cartels are terrorists, and this crisis should be declared a national emergency.

WATCH his opening remarks:


However, if the DEA’s focus is in running cover for major pharmaceutical concerns, then jockeying for a cushy consulting position after their tenure, only to return again once the public has forgotten they were complicit, then it is no wonder that the fentanyl crisis continues to be mostly ignored. AP reported in April that the DEA administrator, Milgram, has come under fire for her distribution of no-bid contracts to associates from Milgram’s former roles as New Jersey attorney general and as a New York University law professor. AP reports that since Milgram’s confirmation, almost three dozen veteran agents and senior aides have resigned under fire or been pushed out because of Milgram’s leadership. This includes the DEA’s principal divisions, chief counsel, and the top agent in Mexico.

The last departure also puts a major wrinkle in tackling the fentanyl crisis. A report uncovered Milione’s tracks after he first left the DEA in 2017.

Milione initially left the DEA in 2017 after a 21-year career that included a two-year stint leading the division that controls the sale of highly addictive narcotics. Like dozens of colleagues in the DEA’s Office of Diversion Control, he went to work as a consultant for some of the same companies he had been tasked with regulating.

AP reported in May that Milione’s consulting included testifying on behalf of the nation’s fourth-largest wholesale drug distributor, Morris & Dickson, as it fought to save its license to supply painkillers to hospitals and pharmacies. A federal administrative judge determined four years ago that the Louisiana-based company failed to flag thousands of suspicious orders at the height of the opioid crisis but the DEA didn’t move to strip the license until days after the AP inquired about the case.

New reporting has found that during his time in the private sector, Milione also served as a $600-per-hour expert for Purdue Pharma as it fought legal challenges from Ohio to Oklahoma over its aggressive marketing of OxyContin and other highly addictive painkillers. Milione left the DEA again in late June just four days after AP sought comment from the Justice Department about his prior work for Purdue.


Milione claimed in a statement that his reasons for stepping down were personal and did not have anything to do with investigations or occurrences at the agency.

Milione added that his consulting stint helped drug companies comply with DEA rules, just as his return to government gave the DEA insight into how business decisions are made in the real world.

“I care deeply about the DEA, its mission and the brave men and women that sacrifice so much to protect the American public,” he said.

One of the key concerns raised by Senator Chuck Grassley (R-Iowa) is that the deputy administrator position is not required to undergo Senate confirmation. Yet, Milgram was confirmed by unanimous consent in 2021, and much of this turmoil appears to be occurring under her watch.


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