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DEA Investigation Fails to Hold Officials Accountable for Lax Security at Haitian Seaport, Illegal Drug Flow

Disclosure of Wrongdoing
OSC today notified the President and Congress that DEA officials in the Port-au-Prince, Haiti Country Office failed to secure a key Haitian seaport used by drug smugglers.

The U.S. Office of Special Counsel (OSC) today notified the President and Congress that Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) officials in the Port-au-Prince, Haiti Country Office failed to secure a key Haitian seaport used by drug smugglers. The whistleblowers, former DEA special agents who worked in Haiti, alerted OSC to inadequate training, security, and resources at DEA Port-au-Prince. The disclosure was filed in the wake of a 2015 drug smuggling incident involving the discovery of a large quantity of cocaine and heroin aboard the M.V. Manzanares cargo ship. The whistleblowers alleged that only a small amount of the seized drugs was secured.

OSC referred the whistleblower allegations to the Department of Justice for investigation, which delegated the investigation to DEA. The DEA investigation found the whistleblowers' allegations unsubstantiated, claiming the DEA was engaged in efforts to improve port security, despite simultaneously maintaining that seaport security lies outside the agency's mission and responsibility.

In comments, the whistleblowers sharply disagreed with this finding. They contend that DEA's assertion that it holds a “limited role" in Haitian seaport security confirms the agency is unwilling to take responsibility or consider the need for corrective action against the unimpeded flow of illegal drugs through Haiti. The whistleblowers further contend that the DEA Office of Chief Counsel's involvement in the investigation represented a conflict of interest and impacted the findings.

After reviewing the findings and comments from the whistleblowers, the Special Counsel found DEA's investigation to be unreasonable because it did not adequately explain the agency's failure to provide additional training and requested resources for seaport security. The DEA report also failed to explain why there was a significant delay in severing ties with a corrupt Haitian police official.

“I want to thank the whistleblowers for alerting OSC to these serious allegations," said Special Counsel Henry J. Kerner. “Since the U.S. government expends resources for DEA to operate in Haiti, it is incumbent on the agency to be as effective as possible in its mission to disrupt the flow of illegal drugs into the United States. I urge DOJ to more closely review its operations in Haiti and implement measures to improve its effectiveness."