Several DEA Employees Failed Drug Tests, But Kept Their Jobs Anyway

By McCarton Ackerman 10/01/15

The DEA continues to generate outrageous headlines.

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In a true case of irony, several federal employees with the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration have failed drug tests over the last five years. But unlike the harsh punishments they have imposed on others in some instances, these individuals merely received a slap on the wrist.

The findings came from internal DEA discipline logs first uncovered by USA Today and then reviewed by Huffington Post. There have been 16 reported instances of DEA employees failing drug tests since 2010.

While some of these employees chose to resign or retire instead of dealing with drawn-out proceedings, none of them were fired for their offense. Most of them received short suspensions that were as brief as a single day.

However, these short punishments seem to be commonplace at the DEA, regardless of the offense. Suspensions of just a few days were administered in 30 individual cases of driving while intoxicated, including four while driving a government-owned vehicle and one which involved a hit-and-run.

There were also nine logged instances of employees losing or stealing drug evidence and two general violations of policy on DEA drug use.

Other examples included 62 instances of an employee losing or stealing a firearm, four cases of committing fraud against the government and two incidents of depriving individuals of their civil rights. No firings took place in response to any of these violations.

“If we conducted an investigation, and an employee actually got terminated, I was surprised,” said Carl Pike, a former DEA internal affairs investigator who went on to lead the agency's Special Operations Division for the Americas before retiring in December, to USA Today. “Like, ‘Wow, the system actually got this guy.’”

The DEA conducts random drug testing on all employees throughout their career. Their official drug policy states that those who have "experimented with or used narcotics or dangerous drugs, except those medically prescribed for you, will not be considered for employment.”

However, they are formally willing to make exceptions for "limited youthful and experimental use of marijuana."

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McCarton Ackerman is a freelance writer and editor living in Portland, Oregon. He has been a contributor for The Fix since October 2011, writing on a wide range of topics ranging from medical marijuana in Colorado to the world's sexiest drug smugglers. Follow him on Linkedin and Twitter.