The U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) hopes to further capitalize on the modern day drug war by ramping up the prosecution of cases involving people who manufacture, traffic and use pharmaceutical substances outside of their medicinal function.
According to National Public Radio, Uncle Sam’s leading drug enforcement hammers quietly announced a plan last month to recruit a slew of new special prosecutors for the sole purpose of nailing drug offenders to the wall. The agency said its intention was to employee as many as 20 legal eagles, all of whom would be paid through funds provided by the pharmaceutical industry, that “would be permitted to represent the United States in criminal and civil proceedings before the courts and apply for various legal orders.”
This will be the first time in history that the DEA has assembled its own team of prosecutors, a group of untouchables, of sorts, specifically paid to put drug offenders behind bars.
The goal, according to a post in the federal register, is to identify jurisdictions all over the country that need a little extra assistance when it comes to severing the head of the beast known as the opioid epidemic, and then throw some wily, dope-hating bastard in there capable of swinging the hatchet.
The DEA says it fully intends to dip into Diversion Control funds to stop Americans from dying as a result of opioid-related overdoses.
“We’re losing 90 people a day to opioids and about 140 a day to drugs altogether,” DEA spokesman Rusty Payne told NPR. “It’s pretty clear we’ve got to use the tools we have at our disposal to attack this. We’ve got to hold accountable the people who are facilitating addiction and heartache.”
The problem with the DEA’s plan, according to the folks over at the Drug Policy Alliance (DPA), is that it goes against the grain of federal law, since the agency is not permitted to use these funds for prosecutions without Congressional approval.
But instead of going through the proper channels, the DEA has effectively proposed “a power grab and is trying to end-run the congressional appropriations process,” said Michael Collins, deputy director with the DPA.
The money the DEA wants to use to hire special prosecutors is coming out of a fund intended to help people, not put drug offenders in jail, Collins explained. He believes this could be yet another sign of how U.S. Attorney General Jeff Sessions intends to heighten the drug war.
“If the Sessions DOJ wants to abandon criminal justice reform, and escalate the War on Drugs,” Collins said, “that conversation should happen above board and in public; not in some arcane rule-making document that very few people read or understand.”