Senate Intelligence Chairman: Virtually All Drug Trafficking In U.S. Controlled From Federal and State Prisons

By Terence P. Jeffrey | June 22, 2009 | 5:32 PM EDT

( - Senate Intelligence Chairman Dianne Feinstein (D.-Calif.) said last week that she had been informed that virtually all narcotics trafficking in the United States is controlled by drug gangs operating out of federal and state prisons.

Feinstein revealed this information while questioning Atty. Gen. Eric Holder during a Senate Judiciary Committee hearing on Wednesday.  In addition to serving as chairman of the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence, Feinstein also serves on the Judiciary Committee and as chairman of the Senate Caucus on International Narcotics Control.

“Recently, I had a meeting on--in the San Diego area--on the southwest border,” Feinstein told Holder at the hearing. “It was a meeting of the top officials of all of the departments, FBI, DEA, DA, et cetera. And I learned something quite surprising, and I'd like to say what it is, and ask you to take a good look.

“And that is that virtually all of the narcotics traffic in this country--the routes that drugs travel, the people who control those drugs, the hits that are ordered--are essentially controlled by certain gangs in federal prisons and some state prisons today,” said Feinstein. “They even gave me the names of the prisons.
Feinstein said the she had already brought this information to the attention of FBI Director Robert Mueller, but that she wanted to publicly notify Holder about it and wanted him to make a commitment to investigate it.
“I wanted to bring it to your attention publicly,” said Feinstein. “It is not acceptable that narcotics-trafficking directions be given out of federal or state prisons. And I'd like to ask you to make a thorough investigation. I'd be happy to give you the information that I have that I'm not going to discuss here. But what I'm asking you for is a commitment to take a big, strong, in-depth look at this.”
Holder promised he would investigate the problem.

“Sure. I will certainly do that,” he said.  “There are certainly measures in place, the monitoring of telephone calls, the monitoring of people who visit with people who are detained, certainly in the federal system, for which I'm responsible. But I'll certainly look at the information that you have expressed concern about, and see if there are things that we need to do better on the federal side, and also interact with our state partners to see if there are ways in which we can help that in that regard.”