DEA Serves as Worldwide Spy Organization

Tuesday, December 28, 2010
Ricardo Martinelli, President of Panama
Where the CIA and other U.S. agencies have failed overseas, the Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) has succeeded in forging close ties, even with governments that mistrust or downright hate Washington. In the process of becoming an important ally in the war against drugs, the DEA has become a de facto intelligence operation that can’t do enough for some foreign leaders.
The New York Times reports that “today’s DEA has access to foreign governments, including those, like Nicaragua’s and Venezuela’s, that have strained diplomatic relations with the United States. Many are eager to take advantage of the agency’s drug detection and wiretapping technologies.”
Culling through hundreds of classified State Department cables released by WikiLeaks, the newspaper uncovered:
·       The president of Panama, Ricardo Martinelli, demanding the DEA go after his political enemies by tapping their phones;
·       Military leaders in Mexico seeking closer collaboration with the drug agency, because they questioned the reliability of their own country’s police forces;
·       Officials in Paraguay urging the DEA to spy on an insurgent group known as the Paraguayan People’s Army.
Created in 1973, the DEA now has offices in 63 countries. Unfortunately, sometimes this international cooperation can backfire. In Venezuela, for example, Hugo Chávez’s intelligence service infiltrated the DEA operation and hacked into U.S. embassy emails.
-Noel Brinkerhoff
Cables Portray Expanded Reach of Drug Agency (by Ginger Thompson and Scott Shane, New York Times)


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