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Mr. Nellis. Thank you, Mr. Chairman.
Mr. Heymann, as you probably know, I just returned from a visit to the U.S. attorneys in San Diego, Los Angeles, and San Francisco. They have some problems internally.
I would like to discuss with you briefly, first of all, San Francisco, where they have had difficulty in attracting and recruiting lawyers, since private practice there is so much more lucrative. They have a program whereby they contact the local law schools and bring in first- and second-year students and teach them the research work which ordinarily the attorneys do.
Now, they get credit in the law school for what they do in the U.S. attorney's office. Additionally, they are paid some modest stipend.
I am told by the assistant U.S. attorney in San Francisco that this is one of the most progressive and useful programs that they have ever undertaken. I am sure you are aware of it.
Could this be done on a national basis? I believe, on the basis of my recent visit that U.S. attorneys offices are understaffed and overworked—they can't get secretaries and have very serious problems?
Mr. HEYMANN. I have asked that question, too; and either Mr. Muskett or Mr. Richard always says to me: "It can't be done."
I can't figure out why it can't be done, Mr. Nellis, so why don't we see which of them says it can't be done and why?
Mr. Nellis. I can only assure you it is being done in San Francisco.
Mr. MUSKETT. The work-study program is operated in conjunction with the local law schools, and we pay 20-percent reimbursement to the universities.
There are problems in the criminal division utilizing such people, in that we have very little public domain information. Most of our material is derived from investigations. These people don't have investigative clearances. And it's not worth the $1,000 to have a complete FBI investigation if they should only be staying 3 or 4 months.
Security is the prime reason.
In our strike forces they don't handle as many appeals as the U.S. attorneys do, and it is ideal for these young people to handle appeal matters. In a strike force they are all concerned with investigations; and we don't handle that large a number of trials. That is normally the function of the U.S. attorney.
Mr. NELLIB. In the case I am referring to, law clerks are working in the library; they are not assigned to the strike force; and they are turning out excellent work.
I don't want to belabor the point, but believe me, I am told out there by Lou Hunter, who is an excellent man whom I've known for some time, that without these people they would be in much worse shape than they are.
So, if there is anything that can be done to adopt that kind of approach in U.S. attorneys offices, I wished to bring it to your attention.
Mr. HEYMANN. We do employ a number of law students in Washington in the Government division. Do you have any idea how many?
Mr. RICHARDS. No.
Mr. RICHARD. Yes. We had been seeking to expand our use of these students. To deal with the problems we have encountered, the ones
described by Mr. Muskett, we have been exploring with a variety of strike forces ways to use students in that capacity. They can be used in a variety of functions.
Mr. NELLIS. Thank you.
As you know the Department has been asking this committee in connection with the criminal code to provide provisions for uniform sentencing, particularly in drug cases, and various other types of major crime.
Now, how can a national uniform sentencing policy exist—this is the threshold question—when the decision to prosecute is subject to tremendous variations between districts?
I know between San Diego and Los Angeles, for example, on the one hard, the prosecutorial discretion is diterent, and on the other hand, they are different in sentencing.
What is your comment on that?
Mr. HEYMANN. I am not sure, Mr. Nellis, what aspect of the problem you focus on. It is certainly true as the system now stands, in San Diego, they could follow guidelines in certain narcotics cases which they would take. We are and have reviewed all the declination guidelines for the U.S. attorneys' office just to see if they looked desirable to us; and it might be that Los Angeles would decline what San Diego would take. (See app. 2 at p. 185)
Of course, that may be caused by the availability of State prosecution; it may just result in State prosecution. And even if it does, we still has your question:
If a State judge and Federal judge in the same place impose similar sentences, in the example, Los Angeles judges impose different sentences than the federal judges in San Diego and you are going to have some disparity.
Mr. Nellis. I think the problem really is in terms of decisions by assistant U.S. attorneys—that is the major source, I would guess, of disparity within the system, not the universal guidelines for a whole district.
Mr. HEYMANN. As to that, my own rather strongly held view is that the only right answer is something we are doing now; that is, pressing that all the important bargaining decisions or declination decisions, in individual cases, be elevated in the U.S. attorney's office to the level of the U.S. attorney or his or her first assistant.
I don't have much hope that there will ever be created by man a set of policies and guidelines that would uniformly lead an assistant in Los Angeles to recommend the same thing as another assistant in Los Angeles, let alone in Boston.
I think what we have to do is make sure that each office has a center of responsibility, a U.S. attorney who takes the rap—because I can't do it. There are too many cases out there, 30,000 cases; it can't be me. It's got to be someone out there who takes the rap for these important decisions; they should not be dispersed widely among the 2,200 assistants.
I think we need 94 people out there who are held responsible for the decisions.
Mr. NELLIS. Thank you.
Mr. DRINAN. Thank you very much, Mr. Heymann. I hope we haven't kept you beyond the designated hour. This testimony has been very helpful. I thank you and your assistants. I know you will be in touch
The committee stands adjourned until 1 o'clock.
[Whereupon, at 12:17 p.m., the hearing was recessed, to reconvene at 1 p.m., the same day at the same place.]
Mr. DRINAN. The subcommittee will come to order.
We welcome you this afternoon, Mr. Bensinger, because the role of the DEA is an important one in the effort to combat trafficking in narcotics and dangerous drugs. The lead taken by the DEA as the lead Federal enforcement agency is a good lead.
This is the first opportunity that the Subcommittee on Criminal Justice has had to oversee the work of the DEA. DEA has very sensitive responsibilities. It works with many informants to obtain information about people. It has an elaborate communications system to communicate with hundreds of law enforcement agencies.
DEA works overseas in many of the countries around the world. It is combating criminal forces that have millions of dollars of resources and which use sophisticated electronic equipment. The enormous sums of money lead to many crimes of violence and death.
We are concerned that the resources of DEA be used as effectively as possible. We are concerned that its sensitive relationships not be adversely affected. We are concerned that the relationship of the DEA to thousands of pharmacies and pharmacists and doctors in the need to control the flow of dangerous drugs diverted from legitimate sources continues.
Thank you, Mr. Bensinger for taking time out of your busy schedule today to be with us this
afternoon. Please introduce your colleagues if you will, and proceed as you see fit.
TESTIMONY OF PETER B. BENSINGER, ADMINISTRATOR, DRUG ENFORCEMENT ADMINISTRATION, U.S. DEPARTMENT OF JUSTICE
Mr. BENSINGER. Thank you very much, Chairman Drinan.
I would like to introduce the Deputy Administrator of the Drug Enforcement Administration, Mr. Frederick Rody; Mr. Marion Hambrick, Assistant Administrator for Enforcement; Mr. Gordon Fink, Assistant Administrator for Intelligence; DEA's Chief Inspector, Joe Krueger; finally, our Chief Counsel, Bill Lenck.
I would also add, Mr. Chairman, the statement I prepared, I think is perhaps more lengthy than what might be most effectively represented by me in this hearing; and I would attempt to summarize it, and then be available with my colleagues to answer any questions.
Mr. DRINAN. Without objection, it will be made a part of the record.
[The full statement follows:] STATEMENT OF PETER B. BENSINGER, ADMINISTRATOR, DRUG ENFORCEMENT ADMIN
ISTRATION, U.S. DEPARTMENT OF JUSTICE Good morning, Mr. Chairman. It is a pleasure to be here this morning to bring the Judiciary Committee up to date on the major issues and situations confronting the Drug Enforcement Administration. I am delighted to have this forum because over the past year there have been changes in the patterns of drug
production and trafficking and I think the Congress needs to know exactly what we are seeing.
In many respects, DEA has seen considerable progress. Several major cases with international implications have been brought to fruition. We have accelerated the use of money-flow investigations; we are now hitting the traffickers where it hurts the most–in their wallets. Many of our foreign counterparts have intensified their commitment and efforts against drug trafficking. There has been a marked decline in the number of clandestine phencyclidine laboratories as a result of the Congressionally enacted controls on piperidine.
But the instabilities of the governments of Southwest Asia are having a dramatic adverse impact on the dimensions of the world drug situation. This area-Iran, Afghanistan and Pakistan-is capable of producing many times over the amount of opium needed to satisfy world demand.
In order to appreciate more fully implications of this Southwest Asian opium production capability, I think it important to reflect on the background of the heroin situation.
Since 1976, all of the indicators we use to trend heroin availability have consistently reflected a downward trend. The purity methodically fell from 6.6 percent and stabilized at 3.5 percent before beginning a slight upward turn during the third and fourth quarters of 1979, when it rose to 3.7 and 3.8 percent, respectively. The price per milligram of pure heroin has risen consistently from $1.26 in 1976 to $2.29 as of the end of 1979.
Medical examiner and emergency room reports are collected from 24 metropolitan areas participating in the Drug Abuse Warning Network (DAWN). Significantly, at the present time, DAWN is recording approximately 35 heroinrelated deaths per month in contrast to the 150 per month in 1976. According to DAWN, the number of heroin-related injuries has been declining steadily and since 1978 has returned to the low levels of 1973. The average number of heroinrelated injuries per quarter for 1979 is consistent with the average per quarter in the preceding year.
From the data we have accumulated thus far, the national indicators are now showing some increases in herois availability. The situation is clearer on a regional level. For example, the East Coast cities in particular are reporting purities well above average for those areas. During the same 12-month period in which average retail purity on the East Coast rose from 2.8 to 3.7 percent, heroin-related injuries rose 26 percent. Other indicators such as heroin treatment admissions, retail pharmacy thefts, treatment admissions for heroin substitutes, and overdose injuries and deaths related to heroin analogs all suggest a gradual increase in heroin availability and abuse on the East Coast. The picture remains mixed when one examines the trends in any one metropolitan area. An extended period of increased availability in more than one geographic area would have a more profound impact on national indicators.
In addition to using the above mentioned indicators to measure availability, we use the National Narcotics Intelligence Consumers Committee (NNICC), which is chaired by DEA, to analyze the volume of drugs in the country. NNICC has done a thorough analysis of estimated supplies of heroin coming into this country from 1975-1978. According to the NNICC study, total heroin imports are down from 7.5 metric tons in 1975 to between 3.7 and 4.5 metric tons in 1978. From 1977 to 1978 alone, heroin imports into the United States declined 25 percent.
The study also has analyzed the volume of heroin emanating from principal foreign sources and, in doing so, has clearly highlighted the changing dynamics of the heroin situation.
ESTIMATED SUPPLY OF HEROIN TO THE UNITED STATES FROM PRINCIPAL FOREIGN SOURCES, 1975-78
4.0 2.0 (1) 6.0
56 1.7-2.0 36 1.4-1.7
8 .6–.8 (100) 3.7-4.5
45 38 17 100
Substantially as a result of the continued eradication efforts of the Government of Mexico, joint United States/Mexican operations, and to some extent as a consequence of an unusually severe drought in late 1977/early 1978 in the northwestern part of the country, Mexico's share of the U.S. heroin market has diminished significantly. The Government of Mexico is to be commended for its dedication to the opium poppy eradication effort.
SOUTHEAST ASIA HEROIN
When I appeared here last year, I expressed optimism regarding the progress in Mexico and I expressed concern about Southeast Asia and the potential of Afghanistan and Pakistan.
Drought conditions directly affected opium production in the Southeast Asian/Golden Triangle area. In a typical growing season, the Golden Triangle can produce between 450-500 tons of opium. As a result of a drought, the 1978–79 growing season yielded only between 160-170 tons of opium. Consequently, estimated shipments of Southeast Asian heroin to the United States dropped about 15-30 percent from 1977 to 1978, and another decline occurred in 1979. The climatic conditions have not improved considerably and so to compensate for the poor yield of the prior season, the opium farmers have planted more. Based on field reporting, DEA estimates that the increased planting will produce between a minimum of 215–240 tons of opium after the 1980 harvest, which is now being completed.
Several factors have had an impact on the trafficking of Southeast Asian heroin. Two of the largest Southeast Asian heroin trafficking networks, the Ah Kong Syndicate and the Li Ming Siu organization were immobilized as a result of international enforcement efforts. Additionally, DEA implemented the Special Action Office/Southeast Asian Heroin (SAO/SEA) to direct its enforcement, international assistance, and intelligence efforts against Southeast Asian heroin. These actions in concert with many others, led to reduced availability of Southeast Asian heroin.
SOUTH WEST ASIA HEROIN
Another part of Asia-Southwest Asia-gives me cause for grave concern. The consequences of excessive opium production have been experienced in Europe, and, now in the United States as well.
It is estimated that in 1978 Afghanistan produced 300 metric tons of opium and Pakistan produced approximately 400 metric tons, for a regional total of about 700 metric tons. Iran cannot be included in this total because at that time, opium cultivation in Iran was legal and controlled. In 1979, opium production in all three of these countries in Southwest Asia is believed to have increased to a maximum of 1,600 metric tons.
Of course, these are "guesstimates". As you can well imagine, intelligence gathering in that part of the world is, at best, very difficult. Our agents stationed abroad are our primary intelligence source. However, DEA has had to close its offices in Iran and Afghanistan. Our efforts in Pakistan were disrupted extensively, albeit temporarily, and still have not returned to the levels of previous years.
Foreign governments are often a secondary intelligence source, but we do not have ongoing enforcement and intelligence exchange in Iran and Afghanistan and the countries have lost a number of their career drug law enforcement officials.
The high quality and availability of Southwest Asian heroin has made it a very marketable commodity. By mid-1977, West Germany was inundated with this high-quality Southwest Asian heroin. The problem has since spread to other West European markets which traditionally have been and continue to be outlets for Southeast Asian heroin. Despite sincere attempts by European governments to control the narcotics addiction problem, the situation has continued to worsen.
Throughout 1979, Western Europe served as a "sponge," absorbing the increased Southwest Asian heroin production. Approximately 2.5 metric tons of heroin were consumed in Western Europe that year. By way of contrast, the NNICC study estimates that in 1978 Southwest Asia supplied 0.6 to 0.8 metric tons of Southwest Asian heroin, representing 17 percent of the total market, [that] entered the United States. I expect that proportion to have doubled during 1979.
Although the heroin picture in Western Europe may be stabilizing, the situation still is not good. Drug overdose deaths in West Germany, for example, are almost double those of this country and yet their population is one-fourth of ours. In West Germany, street-level purity is currently between 20 and 40 percent and prices