Federal Bureau of Narcotics

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Federal Bureau of Narcotics
Agency overview
FormedJune 14, 1930; 93 years ago (1930-06-14)
JurisdictionU.S. Government
Parent agencyDepartment of the Treasury

The Federal Bureau of Narcotics (FBN) was an agency of the United States Department of the Treasury, established in the Department of the Treasury by an act of June 14, 1930, consolidating the functions of the Federal Narcotics Control Board and the Narcotic Division. These older bureaus were established to assume enforcement responsibilities assigned to the Harrison Narcotics Tax Act of 1914 and the JonesMiller Narcotic Drugs Import and Export Act of 1922.[1]


Harry J. Anslinger was appointed its first commissioner by Secretary of the Treasury Andrew Mellon, his father-in-law, under President Herbert Hoover. Under Anslinger, the bureau lobbied for harsh penalties for drug usage. The FBN is credited for criminalizing drugs such as marijuana with the Marijuana Tax Act of 1937, as well as strengthening the Harrison Narcotics Tax Act of 1914. Even so, the main focus of the FBN was fighting opium and heroin smuggling. One instance against opium was the Opium Poppy Control Act of 1942.[2] To that end the FBN over time established several offices overseas in France, Italy, Turkey, Beirut, Thailand and other hotspots of international narcotics smuggling. These agents (never totaling more than 17) cooperated with local drug enforcement agencies in gathering intelligence on smugglers and also made undercover busts locally. The work against heroin and opium was however hamstrung by US foreign policy considerations: during the Vietnam War for instance great importance was placed on investigating minor Vietnamese smugglers that could be connected to the resistance while investigations of large scale smugglers from the US ally Thailand were left unfinished.


Anslinger retired in 1962 and was succeeded by Henry Giordano, who was the commissioner of the FBN until it was merged in 1968 with the Bureau of Drug Abuse Control, an agency of the Food and Drug Administration, to form the Bureau of Narcotics and Dangerous Drugs, an agency of the United States Department of Justice. The BNDD was a predecessor agency of the current Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA).[3]

Legal disputes[edit]

In Bivens v. Six Unknown Named Agents, the Federal Bureau of Narcotics was sued for violating the 4th Amendment rights of Bivens, through the illegal search and seizure of drugs without a warrant.[4]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ "Records of the Drug Enforcement Administration [DEA]". 15 August 2016.
  2. ^ Anslinger, Harry Jacob; Tompkins, William F. (1 January 1980). The Traffic in Narcotics. Arno Press. ISBN 9780405135675 – via Google Books.
  3. ^ "Marijuana Timeline | Busted - America's War On Marijuana | FRONTLINE | PBS". www.pbs.org. Retrieved 2022-12-16.
  4. ^ "Webster BIVENS, Petitioner, v. SIX UNKNOWN NAMED AGENTS OF FEDERAL BUREAU OF NARCOTICS. | Supreme Court | US Law | LII / Legal Information Institute". Law.cornell.edu. Retrieved 2022-05-09.