The Office of Inspector General (OIG) says the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) improved drug interdiction efforts “with timely corrective actions” in response to eight of the watchdog’s prior recommendations.
Illicit drug trafficking into the United States can occur by mail, air, and other means, but typically occurs across land and maritime borders.
Assessing the Department’s activities in line with previous recommendations, OIG found that DHS improved maritime drug interdiction operations by enforcing and strengthening existing mechanisms to coordinate operations and improve oversight at the field and Department levels.
Additionally, DHS improved personnel safety by implementing practices to protect personnel in case of exposure to harmful and toxic drugs. For example, DHS revised its policies to include guidance for handling and storing fentanyl; equipped its permanent vaults and drug transport vehicles with naloxone for treatment in case of accidental fentanyl exposure, and trained personnel on its use; and implemented controls to reduce the risk of using faulty evidence bags.
According to OIG, DHS has also improved administration of drug interdiction activities through enhanced internal controls. Specifically, “DHS augmented staffing to better manage drug seizure caseloads in the field, and improved drug storage and destruction processes”.
DHS also improved visibility of drug control activity outcomes by reporting drug seizure data and air and maritime patrol hours to appropriate stakeholders as required by Federal law.