Is That a Gun in Your Wastebasket, or Are You Just Happy to See Me?
DEA Agents Lose Their Weapons Faster Than Ever, According to a New DOJ
How do Drug Enforcement Administration special agents lose their guns?
Faster than ever, according to a new report from the Department of Justice
inspector general. From 2002 to 2007, DEA lost 91 weapons, the audit found.
The DEA isn't always reporting the losses of weapons or laptop computers to
the proper authorities, and when it does, it often comes weeks -- even
years -- after the fact.
But just how do the guns disappear? Let us count the ways.
"Special agent left weapon on roof of car and drove off," reads one incident
description. In his report released today, Inspector General Glenn A. Fine
included descriptions of how each weapon was said to have been lost.
"May have fallen into trash basket at work," read another. "Left weapon in
supermarket." "Left weapon on airplane." One report sounded like it was
filed by an agent on Larry Craig patrol, "Left weapon in airport restroom."
The thieves were often brazen. "Stolen from hotel room -- Special Agent out
on balcony," one report stated. "Weapon stolen [from] purse while at social
function at bar in Jamaica." "It was believed a carpet installer stole it."
At least once, the alleged culprit was a family member, "Weapon stolen by
Special Agent's son."
But the most common incident, by far, were guns stolen from agents' official
or personal vehicles while they were otherwise engaged -- despite DEA
regulations which prohibit leaving weapons unattended in autos.
"Stolen from an official government vehicle parked at restaurant while
Special Agent had lunch." "Stolen from official government vehicle while
agent was exercising." Stolen "while agent was shopping," from a car parked
"at a summer rental house," "from official government vehicle parked at
convenience store while Special Agent was buying coffee." One was even
reportedly stolen from an agent's car while he was at a middle school
Asked about the reported losses, DEA spokesman Garrison Courtney said the
investigations would have been handled by DEA itself. "Any of those
instances would be referred to our internal investigating arm," Courtney
said. "We would take the appropriate actions to make sure the agents are
educated on how to handle their weapons appropriately."
The inspector general rapped the DEA for losing guns at more than twice the
rate his office found in 2002 and for failing to report many of the losses
quickly or to the right authorities, just as auditors noted in their 2002
The DEA also loses laptop computers, Fine's auditors found, though they had
cut the rate of lost laptops in half since 2002.
In its response to the audit, DEA said it has promulgated new theft and loss