A senior Drug Enforcement Administration official was forced to retire from the agency amid a federal investigation into his closeness to defense lawyers that represented alleged drug traffickers.
Internal agency documents obtained by the Associated Press reveal that Palmeri, who had over 20 years experience in the DEA, was recalled from his post as the federal agency investigated his relationships with the lawyers of traffickers.
Palmeri’s tenure witnessed an increase in the flow of narcotics across the southern border.
The DEA quietly ousted its former top official in Mexico last year (Nicholas Palmeri) over improper contact with lawyers for narcotraffickers, an embarrassing end to a brief tenure marked by deteriorating cooperation and a record flow of drugs https://t.co/WJUFOazp7n
— Sanho Tree (@SanhoTree) January 28, 2023
Palmeri was transferred to DEA headquarters in Washington, D.C., in May 2021.
He retired in March 2022.
A DEA investigation determined that Palmeri and his wife spent two days at the Florida Keys home of criminal defense lawyer David Macey, according to the AP.
The visit came after a DEA agent was charged with providing confidential information to Macey for a cash bribe.
Palmeri’s wife was also implicated in providing translation services for another defense lawyer.
The investigation also determined that Palmeri had visited a private home in Miami to meet with a confidential source working with the agency — arriving with a bottle of wine.
Agency investigators didn’t buy Palmeri’s excuse that the meeting constituted official business.
“The meeting had the appearance of a social interaction with a confidential source,” a document on Palmeri’s conduct read, according to the AP.
“There was no contemporaneous official DEA documentation concerning the substance of the debrief, both of which violate DEA policy.”
Palmeri ultimately admitted that he had shown “not the best judgment” as Regional Director of North and Central Americas Region for the DEA.
However, the agency employee criticized the investigation that resulted in his retirement, describing it as a “witch hunt” that created “an ill-conceived narrative to remove me from my position.”
A DEA official indicated that the agency “has zero tolerance for improper contacts between defense attorneys and DEA employees” in a statement provided to the AP.
“The DEA aggressively investigates this serious misconduct and takes decisive action, including removal, against employees who engage in it.”
This article appeared originally on The Western Journal.
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