By Trevor Schakohl
Republican California Rep. Mike Garcia criticized Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) Administrator Anne Milgram on Thursday for her positive assessment of the agency’s recent performance in combating illegal drug activity, as the number of deaths from fentanyl overdoses continues to rise.
Garcia asked Milgram during the House Appropriations Committee’s DEA budget hearing how she would grade the agency’s progress in the last two years based on its expressed mission to fight illegal drug activity, citing the ongoing fentanyl crisis. Milgram expressed belief that the agency’s personnel are “doing an incredible job” of saving lives.
“I respect and appreciate the service of the DEA agents, but when you have a hundred thousand Americans die of these poisonings in a given year, and it’s getting worse over time, to make the assertion as the administrator of the DEA that you’re doing this job well or that you’re getting the job done is frankly flagrant and offensive. I don’t think you’re doing a good job,” Garcia said. “Self-awareness towards our own performance matters, and this delusional mindset that we are actually doing our jobs well when it comes to this DEA mission is very dangerous.”
More than 70,000 people reportedly died in 2021 from overdoses involving synthetic opioids like fentanyl, with overall drug overdose deaths having increased since 2019, according to the National Institute on Drug Abuse. Garcia commended Milgram for calling many of the fentanyl-related incidents “poisonings” rather than “overdoses.”
“These are not overdoses,” Garcia said. “The victims don’t know they’re taking fentanyl in many cases. They think they’re taking Xanax, Vicodin, Oxycontin.”
Garcia expressed concern that Milgram has not been telling President Joe Biden the truth about the reality of the fentanyl crisis. Milgram said she did not think the situation and death toll were acceptable, but claimed DEA staff are transforming how they operate to attack drug cartels.
Milgram also finds herself under investigation for allegedly handing no-bid contracts worth millions of dollars to previous colleagues, The Associated Press reported. The Justice Department’s Office of Inspector General is conducting the investigation after at least a dozen employees, including some of Milgram’s previous associates, were hired under the contracts.
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