US Drug Enforcement Administration to Open Office in Bulgaria's Sofia

Diplomacy | December 7, 2011, Wednesday // 15:42|  views

Bulgaria's Interior Minister Tsvetan Tsvetanov (front) confirmed the opening of the DEA office in Sofia Wednesday at a meeting with DEA Regional Director Mark Destito (back right). Photo by Interior Ministry

US Ambassador to Bulgaria James Warlick has formally announced the opening of an office of the US Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) in Sofia.

"The decision to open a DEA office in Sofia reflects the close and mutually beneficial relationship we share and the success we have had combating narcotics trafficking together.  To date, this collaboration has resulted in the disruption of the activities of significant criminal groups and the seizure of over 1 500 kilograms of illegal narcotics," Ambassador Warlick said Wednesday.

The announcement came after Bulgaria's Interior Minister Tsvetan Tsvetanov met with DEA Regional Director Mark Destito and Ambassador Warlick in Sofia.

The basis for this strong cooperation was formed in the 1990s, when DEA began collaborating with the General Directorate for Combating Organized Crime (GDBOP) on several investigations involving significant drug trafficking organizations operating in the region, which resulted in notable seizures, the US Embassy in Sofia points out in a statement.

Since 2008, asset seizures from joint investigations have exceeded USD 3.1 M. What is more, in 2008 DEA began training programs for Bulgarian law enforcement officials. To date, over 150 Bulgarian law enforcement personnel have benefitted from these programs, the Embassy pointed out.

Since 2009, DEA Special Agents have been working on a daily basis with Bulgaria's anti-mafia unit GDBOP.

"They work collaboratively on investigations, which have identified and targeted the highest level of traffickers and organized crime figures operating in Bulgaria. We believe the establishment of a DEA office in Sofia will enable us to work together even more effectively to fight drug trafficking in Bulgaria and the region," stated further the US Embassy in Sofia.

On December 7, 2011, the Regional Director of DEA, Mark Destito, travelled to Bulgaria to meet with Interior Minister Tsvetan Tsvetanov to discuss ongoing US-Bulgarian collaboration in combating drug trafficking and details regarding the opening of DEA's office.

The USA has been mulling the opening of a DEA office in Sofia for some time as part of the efforts to boost law enforcement cooperation, as indicated by DEA Istanbul Office Chief Mark Snyder in a November 2010 interview for the Bulgaria-US Survey of (Sofia News Agency).

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Tags: Drug Enforcement Administration, DEA, James Warlick, USA, US, US Ambassador in Sofia, US Ambassador, GDBOP, unit for combating organized crime, interior ministry, Interior Minister, Tsvetan Tsvetanov, drugs, drug trafficking, narcotics, Mark Destito, Mark Snyder


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