About the Drug Enforcement Agency
The tradition of federal drug law enforcement began in 1915 with the Bureau of Internal Revenue. In
the following decades, several federal agencies had drug law enforcement responsibilities. By the 1960s, the two agencies
charged with drug law enforcement were the Bureau of Drug Abuse Control (BDAC) and the federal Bureau of Narcotics (FBN).
In 1968, with the introduction into Congress of Reorganization Plan No. 1, President Johnson proposed
combining two agencies into a third new drug enforcement agency. The action merged the Bureau of Narcotics, in the Treasury
Department, which was responsible for the control of marijuana and narcotics such as heroin, with the Bureau of Drug Abuse
Control (BDAC), in the Department of Health, Education, and Welfare, which was responsible for the control of dangerous drugs,
including depressants, stimulants, and hallucinogens, such as LSD. The new agency, the Bureau of Narcotics and Dangerous Drugs
(BNDD), was placed under the Department of Justice, which is the government agency primarily concerned with federal law enforcement.
In 1973, President Richard Nixon declared "an all-out global war on the drug menace" and sent Reorganization
Plan No. 2 to Congress. "Right now," he pointed out, "the federal government is fighting the war on drug abuse under a distinct
handicap, for its efforts are those of a loosely confederated alliance facing a resourceful, elusive, worldwide enemy. Certainly,
the cold- blooded underworld networks that funnel narcotics from suppliers all over the world are no respecters of the bureaucratic
dividing lines that now complicate our anti-drug efforts."
When John R. Bartels, Jr., was confirmed as the DEA's first Administrator on October 4, 1973, he had
two goals for the new agency: (1) to integrate narcotics agents and U.S. Customs agents into one effective force; and (2)
to restore public confidence in narcotics law enforcement.