About the Drug Enforcement
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.