By that standard of success, it's easier for me to understand Leonhart's March 12, 2015 testimony to the Senate Appropriations Committee for 2016 federal law enforcement budget:
In the second paragraph of testimony (again, PDF), Leonhart isolates wins contra Mexican groups:
- Knights Templar, "La Tuta", February 2015. Per Vice News:
- Gomez emerged as leader the Knights Templar, which itself emerged from the formerly dominant La Familia Michoacana cartel, both groups that characterized themselves with self-fashioned religious dogma published in Bible-like booklets.
- Los Zetas, Omar Trevino Morales. Per BBC:
- Known as Z-42 and believed to be 40 or 41 years old, is wanted in the US and Mexico on charges of drug trafficking, kidnap and murder.
- Mexican media, citing officials, said he had been seized in the Monterrey suburb of San Pedro Garza Garcia in a joint operation by the army and the federal police.
- Sinaloa / Chapo / Guzman.
- Per Leonhart: "(2014) capture of Joaquin "El Chapo" Guzman Loera, the leader of the violent Sinaloa Cartel, signal major steps forward in our shared fight against drug trafficking and violence"
- Contemporary coverage from CNN: "How the world's most wanted drug lord was finally busted"
How and why do we repeat observation of inexplicable tactical mysteries and coincidences? For Leonhart, national insecurity - border insecurity, violence, intimidation, et al - signal simultaneously:
- policy success,
- security risk.
Recently, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reported that 43,982 people died of a drug overdose in the United States in 2013, the most recent year for which information is available. Nearly 52 percent of those drug overdose deaths (22,767) involved prescription drugs. Of those deaths, 71 percent (16,235) involved an opioid analgesic, also known as prescription painkillers. The report also reflected significant increases in heroin related deaths - 8,257 people died of a heroin overdose in 2013, nearly tripling since 2010.Per Leonhart's 2013 data, opioids made and sold by Americans are ~2x more frequently lethal than opioids made and sold by Mexicans. Top-line overdose data from 2014, published by CDC December 2015, is rather worse, but consistent with long-term trend:
- During 2014, a total of 47,055 drug overdose deaths occurred in the United States, representing a 1-year increase of 6.5%, from 13.8 per 100,000 persons in 2013 to 14.7 per 100,000 persons in 2014.
- Since 2000, the rate of deaths from drug overdoses has increased 137%, including a 200% increase in the rate of overdose deaths involving opioids (opioid pain relievers and heroin).
Among the questions posed to Leonhart, three of four a) concerned opioids and b) were posed by white women from Northern USA states:
- Tammy Baldwin (Wisconsin), context:
- The amount of opiates doled out by the U.S. Department of Veteran Affairs Medical Center in Tomah nearly quadrupled over eight years, under the leadership of the chief of staff, Dr. David Houlihan, as the non-profit Center for Investigative Reporting first revealed.
- Prescriptions for just one of them, often-abused oxycodone, shot up ten-fold — from about 78,000 pills in 2005 to almost 712,000 in 2012, the center found.
- Jeanne Shaheen (New Hampshire), context:
- Heroin and other drugs are now killing more people than traffic accidents in New Hampshire.
- Of those 321 deaths, 97 were caused by heroin alone or a combination of heroin and other drugs. Another 143 of those deaths were related to the painkiller fentanyl, either by itself or combined with other drugs.
- In 39 cases, heroin and fentanyl appeared together.
- Barbara Mikulski (Maryland), context:
The Baltimore Department of Health estimates that in a city with a population of 645,000 residents, an estimated 60,000 of them are drug addicts; with up to 48,000 of those addicts addicted to heroin.Due to the severity of the problem, Baltimore has been designated by the federal government as an HIDTA, a High Density Drug Trafficking Area. The HIDTA program is a drug-prohibition enforcement program run by the ONDCP (Office of Drug Control Policy), and refers as well to a geographic location in which the program is headquartered.The HIDTA headquarters are ordinarily established in geographic locations regarded as major drug trafficking zones. Additionally, Baltimore’s designation makes it eligible for special federal assistance to Baltimore police. According to the director of the Washington/Baltimore HIDTA program, Tom Carr, the Baltimore heroin epidemic started in the 50’s, and has since become an ingrained part of the culture of the city. Carr notes that Baltimore is a “heroin town”, and that the habit of heroin addiction is frequently passed down through the generations; almost a “rite of passage” for some people in Baltimore.
In the March 12, 2015 budget request hearings for 2016 federal law enforcement, directors for ATF, FBI, DEA, were unable to clearly answer Senator Mikulski's question whether or not DoJ convened a joint law enforcement, medical task force. None of the panelists - Director-level, federal government could even offer bureaucratic boilerplate. DEA Director Leonhart denied it was DEA. (FBI Director Comey scratched his face and averted his eyes.) Senator Mikulski pressed Director Leonhart for DEA-specific activity vis-a-vis her constituents in Baltimore. Director Leonhart:
"Maryland is the perfect example when we're talking about what it's going take for our country to actually stem the flow of the rising heroin problem "
Since offering that "perfect example" March 12, 2015, Baltimore Police killed repeat opioid offender, Freddie Gray, April 2015. Death in the Western District Baltimore imitated The Wire. CNN eulogized Gray as "the son of illiterate heroin addict". Baltimore closed 2015 with record-breaking per capita murder (344) an an abysmal ~30% clearance rate. None of those patterns can be new to Leonhart. Before joining DEA in 1980, Leonhart began her law enforcement career with Baltimore PD patrolling the Northwest District. Leonhart was born in Fargo, North Dakota and educated in Minnesota.
Hypothetically, Leonhart's "contradictory" administration of drugs and drug violence isn't limited to Mexican drug cartels and influences domestic (eg Baltimore) violence also. Unable to confirm for Senator Mikulski who at DoJ was tasked with medical community outreach, Leonhart isolated Mexico as the upstream source of Baltimore, Maryland's heroin problem. That straw man begins approximately minute 43 in CSPAN coverage.
Sen. Herb Kohl, of Wisconsin, said Wednesday that he plans to put a hold on the nomination of Michelle Leonhart to head the DEA “until we have made more progress towards our goal of ensuring that nursing home residents get timely access to the prescription drug care they need.”At the March 2015 Appropriations session, two Republican senators Boozman (Arkansas) and Lankford (Oklahoma) raised RACI questions about organizational "layout" given the confluence of drugs and violence: "dealing with gangs and dealing with drugs, there's obviously a tremendous amount of overlap". Langford asked about this directly at approximately minute 49 of CSPAN coverage. Leonhart isolated:
- Violence is assigned to ATF and FBI
- DEA's focus to Mexican drug organizations acting as drug wholesalers to "gangs"
Mikulski: Tell Senator Boozman what those [HIDTA] initials stand for...we get lost in initials that you know everyday...they sound like cans of alphabet soup to us.
Boozman: You're exactly right.
Mikulski: Or Scrabble games.Notably absent from this session of the Appropriations Scrabble game: FDA. Also missing: ONDCP. One wonders what exactly they do that isn't evident by their names.
Links for future research and reference:
- Federal Law Enforcement Officers Association
- Major Counties Sheriffs Association
- led by Kern County's Youngblood
- Press Democrat (Santa Rosa CA) covers Leonhart pot busts in Mendocino
Right. Confidence. Happy Sunday.