Disrupt, Dismantle, and Destroy: Smuggling Stories

DEA Museum Lecture Series Smuggling Stories, hosted by Josh Edmundson, focuses on a fundamental element of all major drug trafficking organizations’ (DTOs’) business models and a critical component of DEA’s work: smuggling.

Smuggling Stories investigates one of the pillars of DEA’s Kingpin Strategy, which is the disruption of smuggling routes and discovering and seizing shipments of illicit narcotics, weapons, cash, and other goods. The Kingpin Strategy focuses on removing DTOs’ ability to deliver their products to markets in the United States. 

Joining us are retired Special Agent Tony Placido and Special Agent Nate Jones. Mr. Placido has decades of experience thwarting the efforts of international DTOs, and Mr. Jones will speak on the unique phenomenon that is our Southern Border. 

As part of the presentation, DEA Museum’s Curator of Education, Josh Edmundson, will present additional information on smuggling artifacts, using objects from the Museum’s collection. 

The DEA Museum supports DEA’s mission by collecting, preserving, and interpreting for the benefit of public health and safety the material culture of the DEA and its predecessor agencies, drug public policy leading to drug laws resulting in drug law enforcement, and drug education programs. The Museum also collects, preserves, and interprets the history of DEA and the execution of its mission. The Museum interprets the collection for the public benefit through permanent and temporary exhibits, programs, the museum website, publications, social media, and other mediums. 

Questions? Contact the DEA Museum by email at [email protected] or by phone (202) 307-3463. Sign language interpretation will be provided.

POSTPONED: Taking Down El Chapo

March 17, 2021

10–11:30 AM EST

Thank you for your interest in the DEA Museum’s lecture series. We apologize that due to unforeseen conflicts, we have to postpone the lecture, “Taking Down El Chapo.” A new date has not been confirmed, but please continue to check DEAMuseum.org, the DEA Museum Facebook Page for announcements about events and lectures presented by the DEA Museum. Again, we apologize for any inconvenience this may have caused.

Questions? Please send questions to Elizabeth Thompson at [email protected] or by phone 202-307-3463.

Disrupt, Dismantle, and Destroy: The Kingpin Strategy

Questions? Please send questions to [email protected]. Available to watch on YouTube, https://youtu.be/e-l0730QeHg.

Former Administrator Robert C. Bonner joins us in the first installment of the Drug Enforcement Administration Museum & Visitor Center’s fiscal year 2021 lecture series Disrupt, Dismantle, and DestroyMr. Bonner will speak about leading DEA as it put the “Kingpin Strategy” into place in the early 1990s to combat violent and powerful drug trafficking organizations.

The Kingpin Strategy attacks drug organizations’ most vulnerable areas-leadership, production, distribution, and assets. DEA designed the strategy to weaken, destroy, and dismantle major drug trafficking organizations. 

Speaking alongside Administrator Bonner is retired DEA Regional Director Jay Bergman. Mr. Bergman was the longest-serving regional director in the history of DEA, and was stationed in Bogota, Colombia, from 2006-2015. He will talk about the evolution and success of the strategy during his time in Colombia.

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Who We Are and What We Do: Professional and Technical Support

Take a peek into the inner workings of the Drug Enforcement Administration in our 2019 lecture series “Who We Are and What We Do.” Elizabeth L. Maurer, Curator of Education for the DEA Museum, moderates a panel discussion with members of DEA Professional and Administrative Support: Dana Weiser, Financial Systems Section Unit Chief; Bruce Hill, Investigative Technology Specialist; and Eric Hergenroeder, Senior Attorney.

DEA is comprised of various jobs going beyond Operations, Intelligence, Diversion, and Forensics. There are many more jobs behind the scenes requiring a vast diversity of skill sets. In this panel discussion, we will be featuring individuals from Finance, Congressional & Public Affairs, Special Technologies, and Chief Counsel. These team members work side by side to ensure that DEA runs smoothly and effectively in its mission to enforce the controlled substances laws and regulations of the United States. DEA’s administrative and support personnel perform functions and operations that are the backbone to the goal of combating domestic and global drug trafficking. Professional and Technical Support staff responsibilities range from planning and executing financial programs to analyzing the legal implications in policy decisions to community outreach and much more.

Who We Are and What We Do: Diversion Control

Take a peek into the inner workings of the Drug Enforcement Administration in our 2019 lecture series “Who We Are and What We Do.” Elizabeth L. Maurer, Curator of Education for the DEA Museum moderates a panel discussion with three members of DEA Diversion Control: Justin Wood, Justin Brown, and Donetta Spears.

Diversion Investigators enforce the Controlled Substances Act (CSA) and the Chemical Diversion and Trafficking Act (CDTA) regarding the manufacture, distribution and dispensing of legally produced controlled substances and listed chemicals. They prevent diversion of controlled substances and listed chemicals into the illicit market, while ensuring an adequate uninterrupted supply of pharmaceutical controlled substances and listed chemicals to meet the legitimate medical, commercial and scientific needs of the public.

In a time when the opioid crisis is front and center in our minds and media, it is critical to know who is working for our safety in the world of pharmaceutical drugs. Many problems associated with drug abuse are the result of legitimately made controlled substances being diverted from their lawful purpose into illicit drug traffic. Under federal law, all businesses that import, export, manufacture, or distribute controlled substances; all health professionals licensed to dispense, administer, or prescribe them; and all pharmacies authorized to fill prescriptions must register with the DEA. Diversion investigations involve, but are not limited to, physicians who sell prescriptions to drug dealers or abusers; pharmacists who falsify records and subsequently sell the drugs; employees who steal from inventory and falsify orders to cover illicit sales; prescription forgers; and individuals who commit armed robbery of pharmacies and drug distributors.

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Who We Are and What We Do: Special Agents

Take a peek into the inner workings of the Drug Enforcement Administration in our 2019 lecture series “Who We Are and What We Do.” Elizabeth L. Maurer, Curator of Education for the DEA Museum moderates a panel discussion with four DEA Special Agents: Steve Fraga, Michelle Y. Spahn, and Amador Martinez.

Special Agents are on the front line for drug law enforcement in America and around the world. DEA’s goal is to eliminate illegal drug distribution, prosecute traffickers and destroy the financial infrastructure of these organizations. As the federal government’s premier drug law enforcement agency, our mission has never been so important. Agents are prepared for innumerable tasks including facilitating informant contacts, making drug arrests, community outreach, and international diplomacy.

Special Agents must maintain many skills to perform in less than ideal and often high pressure situations. While in the field, agents may investigate and help prosecute major violators of controlled substance laws, and partner with federal, state, local, and foreign officials in managing drug intelligence programs. Agents are often identified as the people who arrest and search subjects and seize assets connected to illicit drug trafficking, but they are also responsible for collecting and preparing evidence and performing other judicial functions. DEA Special Agents have a long-standing history in combating the critical problems of drug trafficking.

Who We Are and What We Do: Forensics

Take a peek into the inner workings of the Drug Enforcement Administration in our 2019 lecture series “Who We Are and What We Do.” Elizabeth L. Maurer, Curator of Education for the DEA Museum moderates a panel discussion with members of the Forensics staff from around the country: Jonathan Duffy, Forensic Chemist; Jill Mossman, Digital Forensic Examiner; and Anna Zadow, Fingerprint Specialist.

The mission of the Drug Enforcement Administration’s Office of Forensic Sciences is to provide quality scientific, technical, and administrative support to the law enforcement and intelligence communities and to the criminal justice system at large, to assist with the enforcement of controlled substance laws and regulations of the United States. There are three different disciplines within the Forensic Sciences division: Chemistry, Fingerprints, and Digital Evidence.


Forensic Chemists analyze evidence for the presence of controlled substances using state-of-the-art instrumentation, provide expert testimony in courts of law, support DEA Special Agents and Diversion Investigators in their criminal and regulatory investigations, and develop intelligence data used to determine trends in local and international drug trafficking.


Fingerprint Specialists use state-of-the-art examination techniques for development and comparisons of latent prints, support DEA Special Agents in their investigations, assist with clandestine laboratory investigations, provide testimony in Federal, state, and local courts of law, and conduct training for DEA Forensic Chemists and law enforcement officials.

Digital Evidence

Digital Forensic Examiners recover and analyze digital evidence, provide expert testimony in courts of law, provide investigative support to law enforcement, and conduct training to law enforcement personnel.

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Who We Are and What We Do: Intelligence

Take a peek into the inner workings of the Drug Enforcement Administration in our 2019 lecture series “Who We Are and What We Do.” Elizabeth L. Maurer, Curator of Education for the DEA Museum moderates a panel discussion with four members of the Intelligence staff stationed at Headquarters. Aaron Hurwitz, Intelligence Research Specialist; Kia M. Pratt, Intelligence Staff Coordinator; Carrie N. Thompson, Executive Assistant to the Chief of Intelligence; and William N. Trull, Intelligence Research Specialist lend their expertise and discuss their respective roles in the Intelligence Division of the DEA. Together, they have over 40 years of experience with the DEA. The panelists discuss how they came to work at the DEA, their current roles in the agency, and their day to day activities on the job.

Since its establishment in 1973, the DEA, in coordination with other federal, state, local, and foreign law enforcement organizations has been responsible for the collection, analysis, and dissemination of drug-related intelligence. The role of intelligence in drug law enforcement is critical. The DEA Intelligence Program helps initiate new investigations of major drug organizations, strengthens ongoing cases and subsequent prosecutions, develops information that leads to seizures and arrests, and provides policy makers with drug trend information upon which programmatic decisions can be based.

The DEA’s Intelligence Program has grown significantly since its inception. From only a handful of Intelligence Analysts (I/A) in the domestic offices and Headquarters in 1973, to over 700 I/As worldwide today. DEA’s intelligence program encompasses a wide variety of investigative and strategic intelligence assignments spanning the globe.

From Addiction to Zig-Zag and Everything in Between: Artifacts from the DEA Museum Collection

October 30, 2018

Drug misuse, addiction, and rising numbers of drug overdose deaths affect millions of Americans daily. Understanding the history, causes, and consequences of addiction helps the public to better understand the problem as well as proposed solutions.

The Drug Enforcement Administration Museum’s collection of nearly 5,000 artifacts documents the history of drug policy, drug law enforcement, drug addiction, and drug education in the United States. Museum programs, exhibits, and educational outreach support the DEA’s mission to enforce controlled substances laws and regulations of the United States and reduce the use and availability of illicit controlled substances.

The DEA Museum’s Director and chief curator, Laurie A. Baty, brings six of the Museum’s most interesting artifacts out of their cases to demonstrate a tangible connection to the problem of illicit drugs as well as the stories of the men and women who enforce drug laws.

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Opioids and Heroin: A New Look at Some Old (and Not So Old) Drugs

September 18, 2018

Drug overdoses are the leading cause of injury-related death in the United States, eclipsing deaths from motor vehicle crashes or firearms. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), there were nearly 64,000 overdose deaths in 2016, or approximately 174 per day. Over 42,249 (66%) of these deaths involved opioids. CDC’s preliminary data estimates more than 74,000 drug overdose deaths in 2017.

The misuse of controlled prescription drugs (CPDs) and the growing use of heroin, illicit fentanyl, and fentanyl analogues are reported in the United States in unprecedented numbers. According to the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) 2016 National Survey on Drug Use and Health, 6.2 million people over the age of 12 misused psychotherapeutic drugs (e.g., pain relievers, tranquilizers, stimulants, and sedatives) during the past month. This represents 22% of the 28.6 million current illicit drug users and is second only to marijuana (24 million users) in terms of usage.

The U.S. opioid overdose epidemic is still worsening: emergency department visits for suspected opioid overdoses increased 30% in 45 states between July 2016 and September 2017, and all five U.S. regions experienced rate increases. Of the 11.5 million Americans reporting past-year misuse of opioid prescription medicines, many may have misused a counterfeit prescription pain medication.

Dr. Teresa Rummans, M.D. Professor at the Mayo Clinic discusses How Good Intentions Contributed to Bad Outcomes: The Opioid Crisis. In a recent paper, Dr. Rummans and her co-authors describe the origins of the opioid crises. Thirty years ago, a claim that those suffering from chronic pain who received opioids rarely became addicted changed prescriber attitudes towards opioid use. She describes the transition from opioids being reserved for treatment of acute or terminal pain conditions and instead being used to treat any pain condition.

Bruce Goldberger, Ph.D., Professor, University of Florida discusses The Opioid Crisis – An Epidemic of Overdoses and Deaths. Dr. Goldberger tracks drug use data and deaths throughout Florida through the Florida Drug-Related Outcomes Surveillance and Tracking System, which helps fight prescription drug abuse. He also studies the effects of fentanyl on medical examiner offices across the country. Illicit labs change fentanyl formulations, and medical examiner offices often lack appropriate testing methods with which to identify them.

Brian Fuehrlein, MD, Ph.D. Assistant Professor of Psychiatry, Yale University School of Medicine; Director, Psychiatric Emergency Room, VA Connecticut Healthcare System discusses The Use of Medication Assisted Treatment for Opioid Use Disorder in an Emergency Room Setting. From 1999 to 2016, more than 200,000 people died in the U.S. from overdoses related to prescription opioids. The death rate of synthetic opioids (other than methadone) increased by 100% from 2015 to 2016. The rising overdose rate is mirrored by an increased number of emergency room visits. Fuehrlein is the Director of the psychiatric emergency room at the VA Connecticut where veterans suffering from opioid addiction and overdose seek treatment. Fuehrlein points out that patients who have received an overdose treatment are at high risk for future overdoses. Many have a history of other substance use disorders, including marijuana, alcohol, cocaine, and sedatives. Fuehrlein’ s approach to a patient following medical stabilization, which often includes Narcan administration and other treatments, is to encourage medication-assisted treatment.

Dolores Breiner, Intelligence Research Specialist, Domestic Strategic Intelligence Unit, DEA discusses An Overview of The Heroin Situation in the United States. The 2016 National Drug Threat Survey found that the threat posed by heroin in the United States is serious and increasing. Heroin is available in larger quantities, used by a larger number of people, and is causing an increasing number of overdose deaths. Breiner follows and reports on the domestic heroin threat and is working on the 2017 assessment.

Moderated by Mark S. Gold, M.D., Chairman of Rivermend Health’s Scientific Advisory Boards.

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