NCPA - National Center for Policy Analysis

Federal Bureaucrats Authored Racial Profiling Guidelines

November 30, 2000

Back in 1986, the federal Drug Enforcement Administration advised police departments across the nation to search for narcotics traffickers on major highways by using racial profiling techniques. It instructed officers to be on the look out for Latinos and West Indians, and such things as people wearing dreadlocks or two Latino males traveling together.

New Jersey officials, now under fire for employing racial profiling, are pointing their fingers at the federal government for encouraging just such policies.

  • DEA interdiction programs emphasized the ethnic and racial characteristics of narcotics organizations and taught local police ways to single out cars and drivers who were smuggling.
  • The DEA's Operation Pipeline is reported to have led to discrimination in states as diverse as Maryland, Texas, New Jersey, Illinois, Michigan and New Mexico.
  • The Operation Pipeline program has been used to train more than 25,000 officers in 48 states -- and as recently as 1999, the DEA's "Heroin Trends" report identified the predominant nationalities and ethnicities of drug traffickers.

One 1987 state police training memo described drug couriers as possibly Colombian males, Hispanic males, a Hispanic male and a black male together, or a Hispanic male and female posing as a couple.

Source: David Kocieniewski, "U.S. Wrote Outline for Race Profiling, New Jersey Argues," New York Times, November 30, 2000.


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