Founder Richard Nixon
Number of employees 10,784
|Federal agency United States|
Annual budget 2 billion USD (2014)
|Formed July 1, 1973; 43 years ago (1973-07-01)|
Preceding agencies Bureau of Narcotics and Dangerous DrugsOffice of Drug Abuse Law Enforcement
Legal personality Governmental: Government agency
General nature Federal law enforcementCivilian agency
Headquarters Springfield, Virginia, United States
Founded 1 July 1973, United States of America
Jurisdictions Houston, Colorado, Arizona, New Jersey
Parent organization United States Department of Justice
The Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) is a United States federal law enforcement agency under the U.S. Department of Justice, tasked with combating drug smuggling and use within the United States. The DEA is the lead agency for domestic enforcement of the Controlled Substances Act, sharing concurrent jurisdiction with the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI), Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE), Homeland Security, and the U.S. Border Patrol. It has sole responsibility for coordinating and pursuing U.S. drug investigations both domestic, and abroad.
- What we saw at the drug enforcement administration museum
- History and mandate
- Special Agents
- Aviation Division
- Rapid Response Teams and Special Response Teams
- Special Operations Division
- Impact on the drug trade
- Registration and licensing
- Diversion control system
- MDMA DEA scheduling overturn
- Civil liberties
- Incarceration of Daniel Chong
- Department of Justice Smart on Crime Program
- Special Operations Division fabricated evidence trails
- Cannabis rescheduling
- Domestic anti drug advocacy
- Raids on medical marijuana dispensaries
- DEA Museum
- DEA agents in fiction
What we saw at the drug enforcement administration museum
History and mandate
The Drug Enforcement Administration was established on July 1, 1973, by Reorganization Plan No. 2 of 1973, signed by President Richard Nixon on July 28. It proposed the creation of a single federal agency to enforce the federal drug laws as well as consolidate and coordinate the government's drug control activities. Congress accepted the proposal, as they were concerned with the growing availability of drugs. As a result, the Bureau of Narcotics and Dangerous Drugs (BNDD), the Office of Drug Abuse Law Enforcement (ODALE); approximately 600 Special Agents of the Bureau of Customs, Customs Agency Service; and, other federal offices merged to create the DEA.
From the early 1970s, DEA headquarters was located at 1405 I ("Eye") Street NW in downtown Washington, D.C. With the overall growth of the agency in the 1980s (owing to the increased emphasis on federal drug law enforcement efforts) and a concurrent growth in the headquarters staff, DEA began to search for a new headquarters location; locations in Arkansas, Mississippi, and various abandoned military bases around the U.S. were considered. However, then–Attorney General Edwin Meese determined that the headquarters had to be located in close proximity to the Attorney General's office. Thus, in 1989, the headquarters relocated to 600–700 Army-Navy Drive in the Pentagon City area of Arlington, Virginia, near the Metro station with the same name.
On April 19, 1995, Timothy McVeigh attacked the Alfred P. Murrah Federal Building in Oklahoma City because it housed regional offices for the FBI, Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives (ATF), and DEA, all of which had carried out raids that he viewed as unjustified intrusions on the rights of the people; this attack caused the deaths of two DEA employees, one task force member, and two contractors in the Oklahoma City bombing. Subsequently, the DEA headquarters complex was classified as a Level IV installation under United States federal building security standards, meaning it was to be considered a high-risk law enforcement target for terrorists. Security measures include hydraulic steel roadplates to enforce standoff distance from the building, metal detectors, and guard stations.
In February 2003, the DEA established a Digital Evidence Laboratory within its Office of Forensic Sciences.
The DEA is headed by an Administrator of Drug Enforcement appointed by the President of the United States and confirmed by the U.S. Senate. The Administrator reports to the Attorney General through the Deputy Attorney General. The Administrator is assisted by a Deputy Administrator, the Chief of Operations, the Chief Inspector, and three Assistant Administrators (for the Operations Support, Intelligence, and Human Resources Divisions). Other senior staff include the chief financial officer and the Chief Counsel. The Administrator and Deputy Administrator are the only presidentially-appointed personnel in the DEA; all other DEA officials are career government employees. DEA's headquarters is located in Arlington, Virginia across from the Pentagon. It maintains its own DEA Academy located on the United States Marine Corps base at Quantico, Virginia along with the FBI Academy. It maintains 21 domestic field divisions with 227 field offices and 86 foreign offices in 62 countries. With a budget exceeding 2 billion dollars, DEA employs over 10,800 people, including over 5,500 Special Agents and 800 Intelligence Analysts. Becoming a Special Agent or Intelligence Analyst with the DEA is a competitive process.
As of 2011 there were 4,890 agents employed by the Drug Enforcement Administration. DEA agents' starting salary is $49,746–$55,483. After four years working as an agent, the salary jumps to above $92,592.
After receiving a conditional offer of employment, recruits must then complete a 19-week rigorous training which includes lessons in firearms proficiency (including basic marksmanship), weapons safety, tactical shooting, and deadly-force decision training. In order to graduate, students must maintain an academic average of 80 percent on academic examinations, pass the firearms-qualification test, successfully demonstrate leadership and sound decision-making in practical scenarios, and pass rigorous physical-task tests. Upon graduation, recruits earn themselves the title of DEA Special Agent.
The DEA excludes from consideration job-applicants who have a history of any use of narcotics or illicit drugs. Investigation usually includes a polygraph test for special-agent, diversion-investigator, and intelligence research specialist positions.
Applicants who are found, through investigation or personal admission, to have experimented with or used narcotics or dangerous drugs, except those medically prescribed, will not be considered for employment with the Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA). Exceptions to this policy may be made for applicants who admit to limited youthful and experimental use of marijuana. Such applicants may be considered for employment if there is no evidence of regular, confirmed usage and the full-field background investigation and results of the other steps in the process are otherwise favorable.
The DEA's relatively firm stance on this issue contrasts with that of the Federal Bureau of Investigation, which in 2005 considered relaxing its hiring policy relevant to individual drug-use history.
The DEA Aviation Division or Office of Aviation Operations (OA) (formerly Aviation Section) is an airborne division based in Fort Worth Alliance Airport, Texas. The current OA fleet consists of 106 aircraft and 124 DEA pilots.
The DEA shares a communications system with the Department of Defense for communication with state and regional enforcement independent of the Department of Justice and police information systems and is coordinated by an information command center called the El Paso Intelligence Center (EPIC) near El Paso, Texas.
Rapid Response Teams and Special Response Teams
Rapid Response Teams (RRT) (Previously known as Foreign-Deployed Advisory and Support Teams (FAST)) are full-time operators and one of the two tactical enforcement arm of the DEA's Drug Flow Attack Strategy. Their stated mission is to "plan and conduct special enforcement operations; train, mentor, and advise foreign narcotics law enforcement units; collect and assess evidence and intelligence in support of U.S. and bilateral investigations."
As of October 2016, RRT fields four teams. The four teams are stationed at Stafford, Virginia. RRT originally was created to solely conduct missions in Afghanistan in 2008 to disrupt the Afghan opium trade but has evolved into a global action arm for the U.S. Department of Justice and DEA.
Selection for RRT is extremely difficult; attrition rates are usually above 50%. Selection is rumored to last 8 weeks where events such as timed runs, timed rucksack marches, obstacle courses, land navigation and many other events are conducted daily. Once selection is complete, advanced training begins with emphasis in small unit tactics, and close quarters battle. To prevent candidates from pacing themselves and ensuring they give a maximum effort, candidates attending RRT selection are not informed of the standards for each event, only whether they have passed or failed. RRTs are DEA full-time tactical teams.
DEA recently created its Special Response Team (SRT) program to address higher risk tactical operations in the field. DEA mandates that each major domestic office maintain an operational Special Response Team. The SRT Certification Course (SCC) consists of 11 days of SRT Basic and 5 days of SRT Advanced at U.S. Army Base Ft. A.P. Hill in Virginia. The SCC cadre are operators from the DEA RRTs best and most seasoned agents. The course trains SRT candidates in team movement, high risk entry, tactical weapons proficiency, and principles of dynamic operations.
Some of the SRT missions consist of High-risk arrests, Vehicle assault, Specialized Surveillance, Custody of High-Profile Individuals, Dignitary and Witness Protection, Tactical Surveillance and Interdiction, Advance Breaching, Tactical Training to other police units, Urban and Rural Fugitive Searches.
In the past, DEA had other tactical teams like the Mobile Enforcement Teams (MET), Regional Enforcement Teams (RET), High Risk and Arrest Team (HEAT) and Operation Snowcap Teams (Predecessor of FAST).
Special Operations Division
The DEA Special Operations Division (SOD) is a division within the DEA, which forwards information from wiretaps, intercepts and databases from various sources to federal agents and local law enforcement officials. The SOD came under scrutiny following the 2013 mass surveillance disclosures.
The DEA budget was directed toward three of five major goals of U.S. drug eradication:
DEA agents' primary service weapons is the Glock 22 and Glock 27 in .40 caliber ammunition, and agents can also qualify to carry a firearm listed on an authorized carry list maintained and updated by the Firearms Unit, Quantico, VA.
Special Agents may qualify with their own personally-owned handguns and certain handguns are allowed to be used with permission from the DEA Firearms office in Quantico, VA. Agents are required to attend tactical and firearms proficiency training quarterly, and to qualify with their handguns twice per year. The DEA has one of the most challenging and difficult handgun qualification courses in all of federal law enforcement. Failure to achieve a passing qualification score is the reason for most Academy dismissals.
Basic Agent Trainees (BATs) who fail the initial pistol qualification course of fire are placed in a remedial program to receive additional training. In remedial training, BATs receive 5 extra two-hour range sessions, for a total of 10 more hours of live fire training on their issued sidearm for those BATs who are struggling with marksmanship, in order to further aid them in helping pass the pistol qual. After passing their pistol qualification, Basic Agent Trainees move on to receive formal training on the DEA's standard-issue long guns and will continue to frequently shoot their agency-issued sidearm that they have already qualified on. In all, BATs receive a total of 32 firearms training sessions, when combining classroom instruction, gear issue, and pistol, rifle and shotgun live fire training at the DEA Academy. They will shoot the qualification courses for all 3 weapons systems during their initial training, but must pass their final qualification attempts only on their Glock pistols in order to become a Special Agent.
Trained to use shoulder-fired weapons, the Rock River LAR-15, adopted in 2004, and LWRC is the standard carbine of DEA. The Colt 9mm SMG was previously issued, but no longer in service. Agents are required to complete a two-day (16-hour) proficiency course in order to carry a shoulder weapon on enforcement operations. They may carry a Rock River LAR-15 or LWRC M6A2 carbine as authorized, personally-owned weapons, provided they meet the same training and proficiency standards. Although less prevalent since adoption of the LAR-15, the Remington 870 shotgun is also in service with the DEA.
Impact on the drug trade
In 2005, the DEA seized a reported $1.4 billion in drug trade related assets and $477 million worth of drugs. According to the White House's Office of Drug Control Policy, the total value of all of the drugs sold in the U.S. is as much as $64 billion a year, giving the DEA an efficiency rate of less than 1% at intercepting the flow of drugs into and within the U.S. Critics of the DEA (including recipient of the Nobel Memorial Prize in Economic Sciences, Milton Friedman, prior to his death a member of Law Enforcement Against Prohibition) point out that demand for illegal drugs is inelastic; the people who are buying drugs will continue to buy them with little regard to price, often turning to crime to support expensive drug habits when the drug prices rise. One recent study by the DEA showed that the price of cocaine and methamphetamine is the highest it has ever been while the quality of both is at its lowest point ever. This is contrary to a collection of data done by the Office of National Drug Control Policy, which states that purity of street drugs has increased, while price has decreased. In contrast to the statistics presented by the DEA, the United States Department of Justice released data in 2003 showing that purity of methamphetamine was on the rise.
Registration and licensing
The DEA has a registration system in place which authorizes anyone to manufacture, import, export, and distribute by filing DEA form 225 along with medical professionals, researchers and manufacturers access to "Schedule I" drugs, as well as Schedules 2, 3, 4 and 5. Authorized registrants apply for and, if granted, receive a "DEA number". An entity that has been issued a DEA number is authorized to manufacture (drug companies), distribute, research, prescribe (doctors, pharmacists, nurse practitioners and physician assistants, etc.) or dispense (pharmacy) a controlled substance.
Diversion control system
Many problems associated with drug abuse are the result of legitimately-manufactured controlled substances being diverted from their lawful purpose into the illicit drug traffic. Many of the analgesics, depressants and stimulants manufactured for legitimate medical use can often carry potential for dependence or abuse. Therefore, those scheduled substances have been brought under legal control for prevention and population safety. The goal of controls is to ensure that these "controlled substances" are readily available for medical use, while preventing their distribution for illicit distribution and non-medical use. This can be a difficult task, sometimes providing difficulty for legitimate patients and healthcare providers while circumventing illegal trade and consumption of scheduled drugs.
Under federal law, all businesses which manufacture or distribute controlled drugs, all health professionals entitled to dispense, administer or prescribe them, and all pharmacies entitled to fill prescriptions must register with the DEA. Registrants must comply with a series of regulatory requirements relating to drug security, records accountability, and adherence to standards.
All of these investigations are conducted by Diversion Investigators (DIs). DIs conduct investigations to uncover and investigate suspected sources of diversion and take appropriate civil and administrative actions. Prescription Database Management Programs (PDMP) aid and facilitate investigation and surveillance.
MDMA DEA scheduling overturn
In 1985 MDMA and its analogues were under review by the American government as a drug for potential of abuse. During this time, several public hearings on the new drug were held by the DEA. Based on all of the evidence and facts presented at the time, the DEA's administrative law judge did not see MDMA and its analogues as being of large concern and recommended that they be placed in Schedule III. The DEA administrator, expressing concern for abuse potential, overruled the recommendation and ruled that MDMA be put in Schedule I, the Controlled Substances Act's most restrictive category.
The DEA has been criticized for placing highly restrictive schedules on a few drugs which researchers in the fields of pharmacology and medicine regard as having medical uses. Critics assert that some such decisions are motivated primarily by political factors stemming from the U.S. government's War on Drugs, and that many benefits of such substances remain unrecognized due to the difficulty of conducting scientific research. A counterpoint to that criticism is that under the Controlled Substances Act it is the Department of Health and Human Services (through the Food and Drug Administration and the National Institute on Drug Abuse), not the DEA, which has the legal responsibility to make scientific and medical determinations with respect to drug scheduling; no drug can be scheduled if the Secretary of Health and Human Services recommends against it on a scientific or medical basis, and no drug can be placed in the most restrictive schedule (Schedule I) if DHHS finds that the drug has an accepted medical use. Jon Gettman's essay Science and the End of Marijuana Prohibition describes the DEA as "a fall guy to deflect responsibility from the key decision-makers" and opines, "HHS calls the shots when it comes to marijuana prohibition, and the cops at DEA and the general over at ONDCP take the heat."
The DEA is also criticized for focusing on the operations from which it can seize the most money, namely the organized cross-border trafficking of marijuana. Some individuals contemplating the nature of the DEA's charter advise that, based on danger, the DEA should be most focused on cocaine. Others suggest that, based on opiate popularity, the DEA should focus much more on prescription opiates used recreationally, which critics contend comes first before users switch to heroin.
Practitioners who legally prescribe medicine however must possess a valid DEA license. According to federal law the budget of the DEA Diversion Control Program is to be paid by these license fees. In 1984 a three-year license cost $25. In 2009 the fee for a three-year license was $551. Some have likened this approach to license fees unreasonable, "like making pilot licenses support the entire Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) budget."
The total budget of the DEA from 1972 to 2014, according to the agency website, was $50.6 billion. The agency had 11,055 employees in 2014. For the year 2014 the average cost per arrest made was $97,325.
Others, such as former Republican congressman Ron Paul, the Cato Institute, The Libertarian Party and the Drug Policy Alliance criticize the very existence of the DEA and the War on Drugs as both hostile, and contrary, to the concept of civil liberties by arguing that anybody should be free to put any substance they choose into their own bodies for any reason, particularly when legal drugs such as alcohol, tobacco and prescription drugs are also open to abuse, and that any harm caused by a drug user or addict to the general public is a case of conflicting civil rights. Recurrently, billions of dollars are spent yearly, focusing largely on criminal law and demand reduction campaigns, which has resulted in the imprisonments of thousands of U.S. citizens. Demand for recreational drugs is somewhat static as the market for most illegal drugs has been saturated, forcing the cartels to expand their market to Europe and other areas than the United States. United States federal law registers cannabis as a Schedule I drug, yet it is common for illicit drugs such as cannabis to be widely available in most urban, suburban, and even rural areas in the United States, which leads drug legalization proponents to claim that drug laws have little effect on those who choose not to obey them, and that the resources spent enforcing drug laws are wasted. As it relates to the DEA specifically, the vast majority of individual arrests stemming from illegal drug possession and distribution are narrow and more local in scope and are made by local law enforcement officers, while the DEA tends to focus on larger, interstate and international distribution networks and the higher-ranking members of such organizations in addition to operating in conjunction with other local, state, and federal law enforcement agencies along U.S. borders.
Some groups advocate legalization of certain controlled substances under the premise that doing so may reduce the volume of illicit trafficking and associated crime as well as yield a valuable tax source, although some of the results of drug legalization have raised doubt about some of these beliefs. For example, marijuana is now available as a palliative agent, in Canada, with a medical prescription. Yet 86% of Canadians with HIV/AIDS, eligible for a prescription, continue to obtain marijuana illegally (AIDS Care. 2007 Apr;19(4):500-6.) However, this could be due to the availability or quality of illegal cannabis compared to provisions by government sources. Bureaucratic impediments may also discourage patients from actually attempting to receive it from the government.
Incarceration of Daniel Chong
An April 2012 DEA raid on a California home led to the incarceration of Daniel Chong for several days under conditions of neglect. The 23-year-old student attending the University of California, San Diego was taken into custody along with eight other people when the DEA executed a raid on a suspected MDMA distribution operation at a residence that he was visiting to celebrate the April 20 cannabis "holiday" known as "420". According to Chong, the DEA agents questioned him and told him that he could go home, one even offering him a ride home, but instead he was transferred to a holding cell and confined for five days without any food or water, although Chong said he ingested a powdery substance that was left for him, which was later found to be methamphetamine. After five days and two failed suicide attempts, DEA agents found Chong. He was taken to the hospital, where he spent three days in intensive care, because his kidneys were close to failing. No criminal charges were filed against Chong. A DEA spokesperson stated that the extended detention was accidental and the acting special agent in charge of the San Diego DEA office issued an apology to Chong. Chong disputes the claim of accidental neglect, saying that DEA personnel ignored his calls for help. His attorney stated an intent to file a claim against the federal government and some members of California's delegation to the Congress called for further investigation of the incident.
Department of Justice Smart on Crime Program
On 12 August 2013, at the American Bar Association's House of Delegates meeting, Attorney General Eric Holder announced the "Smart on Crime" program, which is "a sweeping initiative by the Justice Department that in effect renounces several decades of tough-on-crime anti-drug legislation and policies." Holder said the program "will encourage U.S. attorneys to charge defendants only with crimes "for which the accompanying sentences are better suited to their individual conduct, rather than excessive prison terms more appropriate for violent criminals or drug kingpins…" Running through Holder's statements, the increasing economic burden of over-incarceration was stressed. As of August 2013, the Smart on Crime program is not a legislative initiative but an effort "limited to the DOJ's policy parameters."
The DEA was accused in 2005 by the Venezuelan government of collaborating with drug traffickers, after which President Hugo Chávez decided to end any collaboration with the agency. In 2007, after the U.S. State Department criticized Venezuela in its annual report on drug trafficking, the Venezuelan Minister of Justice reiterated the accusations: "A large quantity of drug shipments left the country through that organization.We were in the presence of a new drug cartel." In his 1996 series of articles and subsequent 1999 book, both titled Dark Alliance, journalist Gary Webb asserts that the DEA helped harbor Nicaraguan drug traffickers. Notably, they allowed Oscar Danilo Blandón political asylum in the USA despite knowledge of his cocaine trafficking organization.
The government of Bolivia has also taken similar steps to ban the DEA from operating in the country. In September 2008, Bolivia drastically reduced diplomatic ties with the United States, withdrawing its ambassador from the US and expelling the US ambassador from Bolivia. This occurred soon after Bolivian president Evo Morales expelled all DEA agents from the country due to a revolt in the traditional coca-growing Chapare Province. The Bolivian government claimed that it could not protect the agents, and Morales further accused the agency of helping incite the violence, which claimed 30 lives. National agencies were to take over control of drug management. Three years later, Bolivia and the US began to restore full diplomatic ties. However, Morales maintained that the DEA would remain unwelcome in the country, characterising it as an affront to Bolivia's "dignity and sovereignty".
In the Netherlands, both the Dutch government and the DEA have been criticized for violations of Dutch sovereignty in drug investigations. According to Peter R. de Vries, a Dutch journalist present at the 2005 trial of Henk Orlando Rommy, the DEA has admitted to activities on Dutch soil. Earlier, then Minister of Justice Piet Hein Donner, had denied to the Dutch parliament that he had given permission to the DEA for any such activities, which would have been a requirement by Dutch law in order to allow foreign agents to act within the territory.
Special Operations Division fabricated evidence trails
In 2013 Reuters published a report about the DEA's Special Operations Division (SOD) stating that it conceals where an investigative trail about a suspect truly originates from and creates a parallel set of evidence given to prosecutors, judges, and defense lawyers. This DEA program mainly affects common criminals such as drug dealers. The concealment of evidence means the defendant is unaware how his or her investigation began and will be unable to request a review possible sources of exculpatory evidence. Exculpatory evidence may include biased witnesses, mistakes, or entrapment. Nancy Gertner, a former federal judge who had served from 1994 to 2011 and a Harvard Law School professor, stated that "It is one thing to create special rules for national security. Ordinary crime is entirely different. It sounds like they are phonying up investigations." Andrew O'Hehir of Salon wrote that "It’s the first clear evidence that the “special rules” and disregard for constitutional law that have characterized the hunt for so-called terrorists have crept into the domestic criminal justice system on a significant scale."
A 2014 report by the Multidisciplinary Association for Psychedelic Studies and the Drug Policy Alliance accuses the DEA of unfairly blocking the removal of cannabis from Schedule I. The report alleges that the methods employed by the DEA to achieve this include: delaying rescheduling petitions for years, overruling DEA administrative law judges, and systematically impeding scientific research. The DEA continues to refuse the removal of cannabis from Schedule I despite wide-scale acceptance of the substance among the medical community, including 76% of doctors, for the treatment of various disease.
Domestic anti-drug advocacy
The DEA, in addition to enforcement, also regularly engage in advocacy, specifically against rescheduling marijuana, by publishing policy-based papers on certain drugs. Somehave criticized the DEA for using tax-dollars in what they call an attempt to change public opinion, which they call an overreach from the scope of the agency's job of enforcement, and that by releasing such non-peer-reviewed reports is a transparent attempt to justify its own activities. They have claimed that since the DEA is not, by law, an advocacy group, but a legal enforcement group, that those press releases are tantamount to what they consider domestic propaganda.
Raids on medical marijuana dispensaries
The DEA has taken a particularly strong stance on enforcement of the Controlled Substances Act on persons and organizations acting within state laws that allow medical cannabis cultivation and distribution.
"The people of California and the County of Santa Cruz have overwhelmingly supported the provision of medical marijuana for people who have serious illnesses," county Supervisor Mardi Wormhoudt told the San Francisco Gate. "These people (blocking the road) are people with AIDS and cancer and other grave illnesses. To attack these people, who work collectively and have never taken money for their work, is outrageous."
As a result, the Wo/Men's Alliance for Medical Marijuana, with the City and County of Santa Cruz, has sued the DEA, Attorney General Michael Mukasey, and the ONDCP. The most recent court decision rejected the government's motion to dismiss, which allows discovery to move forward. The American Civil Liberties Union hailed the decision as "a first-of-its-kind ruling."
More recently, the DEA has escalated its enforcement efforts on the recently proliferated Los Angeles area medical cannabis collectives. On July 25, 2007, the DEA raided the California Patients Group, Hollywood Compassionate Collective, and Natural Hybrid (NHI Caregivers) in Hollywood, California. Earlier that day, the operators of those collectives participated in a press conference with LA City Council members announcing the City's intention to regulate the collectives and asking the DEA to halt raids on collectives while the City drafted regulations. The dispensary operator of Natural Hybrid (NHI Caregivers) was forced to close down the collective due to the tremendous loss caused by the DEA conducted joint task force raid against them.
In 1999, the DEA opened the Drug Enforcement Administration Museum in Arlington, Virginia. The original permanent exhibit – Illegal Drugs in America: A Modern History – remains the museum's centerpiece. The exhibit features "the more than 150 year history of drugs and drug abuse and the DEA," including a considerable collection of drug paraphernalia and an image of a smiling drug vendor under the heading "Jimmy's Joint."