Interior and Justice Minister German Vargas Lleras has confirmed the central government’s decision to dismantle the national drug enforcement agency (DNE), in order to remove corruption from the body, Colombian media reported Tuesday.
Vargas Lleras said that the impetus comes directly from President Juan Manuel Santos who decided to move forward with the process of restructuring the DNE, the body responsible for handling assets seized from drug lords and which was taken over by the government last November due to allegations of widespread corruption.
The minister stated that the first step in the process will be intervention, then restructuring, and finally the dismantling of the body. He added that the government is working hard and will continue to work hard on removing any corruption that still exists within the DNE.
Since assuming office as new director of the DNE, Juan Carlos Restrepo has made various changes in the structure and organization of the body, but has found to date that these measures have not entirely been successful in eliminating corruption.
Numerous officials from the agency are currently under investigation for corruption charges related to the mishandling of drug funds, including 14 current and former congressmen.
The restructuring and dismantling of the DNE will take place as a result of a bill passed in the Senate in mid-March. The bill granted extraordinary powers to the government for six months to divide and restructure ministries and state agencies and is directed especially towards the restructuring of the DNE, the department of administrative security (DAS), and the national prison authority (INPEC), all of which have faced a number of claims of internal corruption.