James Warlick, US ambassador in Sofia
The Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) will open an office in Sofia, US ambassador James Warlick said on December 7.
"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 1500 kilograms of illegal narcotics," Warlick said.
The basis for this strong co-operation 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 organisations operating in the region, which resulted in notable seizures, a US embassy statement said.
Since 2008, asset seizures from joint investigations have exceeded $3.1 million. Also, in 2008 DEA began training programmes for Bulgarian law enforcement officials. To date, more than 150 Bulgarian law enforcement personnel have benefitted from these programmes, the embassy said.
Since 2009, DEA Special Agents have been working on a daily basis with GDBOP.
They work collaboratively on investigations, which have identified and targeted the highest level of traffickers and organised 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," the statement said.
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 here.