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DEA, Customs and Border Patrol Seek Contractors to Incinerate Narcotics

Federal agencies are trying to free up space by burning evidence from narcotics busts to ash.

DEA, Customs and Border Patrol Seek Contractors to Incinerate Narcotics
Yaman Mutart/ Shutterstock

The DEA and U.S. Customs and Border Patrol are seeking contractors to incinerate drugs seized during criminal investigations and from smuggling operations, according to government notices posted online. In one Federal Business Opportunities posting, the DEA says that it needs a company to destroy evidence located in the Texas cities of Houston, Galveston, Beaumont, McAllen, Brownsville, Corpus Christi, Laredo, Eagle Pass, Del Rio, San Antonio, Austin, and Waco. Apparently, the DEA has a lot of pot to burn and needs “an incinerator with the capability of destroying marijuana to a point where there are no detectable levels, as measured by standard analytical methods, of byproduct from the destruction process.” The listing notes that the “DEA shall inspect the incinerator to ensure no drug residue remains.”

Strict Requirements for Contractors

A “Statement of Work” goes into greater detail on the Feds’ needs, noting that the incinerator must be capable of processing at least 1,000 pounds of bulk marijuana per hour for a minimum of eight hours in a day and that the drugs are usually composed of tightly compressed bricks or bales. The DEA notes that it is not able to anticipate all the different packaging materials that may accompany the weed to be destroyed, so the facility must have the capability and proper permits to destroy a specified list of items including “cardboard, wrapping paper, Saran Wrap, aluminum foil, duct tape and derivatives, Scotch tape and derivatives, packing tape and derivatives, plastic evidence bags, grease/oil, etc.”

The chosen contractor will be required to provide a site with security cameras and a fence high enough to shield the incineration operations from public view. Each burn of marijuana will be carried out in the presence of armed DEA personnel and will be video recorded from start to finish with a video feed of the process provided for remote surveillance of the destruction. The contractor must ensure that “the integrity of the destruction process shall be such that the material to be destroyed cannot be redirected or retrieved once it is committed to destruction.” The incineration must be carried out by employees who have been given an annual drug test and gone through a background check.

The contract will be fulfilled through September by Tucson Iron & Metal in Arizona, which is the only vendor in close proximity to Texas DEA offices with the capability of providing the necessary services, according to government research.

More Drugs to Burn in Georgia

In Atlanta, Customs and Border Protection is also looking for a contractor to incinerate drugs. They’ll have more than weed to burn though, with the notice listing marijuana, hashish, cocaine, heroin, methamphetamine, steroids, opiates, and khat on the destruction menu. Officials are looking for an incinerator able to destroy 1,500 to 5,000 pounds of drugs at a time and will need the service eight to 12 times per year. “Hard narcotics” including cocaine, heroin, and methamphetamine require incineration at 1,800 degrees Fahrenheit or higher, while “soft narcotics” including marijuana, hashish, steroids, opiates, and khat can be burned at temperatures less than 1,500 degrees Fahrenheit. CBP is requesting that interested companies provide a quote for their services.

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