AFNA Mid-Atlantic Region VP and Retired Chief of Operations, Greg Cherundolo wrote the below Op Ed.  VP Cherundolo, eloquently stated what we all felt regarding the Victor Bout trade.  Thanks to VP Cherundolo for taking the initiative.
Dan Salter
We are sure Brittney Griner’s friends, family, and fans are happy to have her home and released and we are happy for her and them as well. However, the Biden administration has gone against so many of its principles to make what we feel was a very bad prisoner swap.  This exchange sends a terrible message to the American people and the men and women of the Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) about their pursuit of the highest value targets which live at the intersection of drug trafficking and terrorism.  The actions of the Biden Administration are shortsighted certainly weaken the administration’s position and the safety of Americans around the world.  To trade a convicted drug possessor and user, Brittney Griner (who was not wrongfully imprisoned), for the Merchant of Death is the premier example of politics gone wrong in the United State of America.    

Victor Bout promulgated weapons to wars around the world and is likely responsible for arming Russian-supported rebels and terrorists responsible for the deaths of thousands of people around the globe in a trade for a low-level criminal is absurd – and undermines the law enforcement agency at the tip of the spear responsible for investigating and prosecuting the world’s most dangerous drug trafficking and narco-terrorist organizations.  Remember, DEA agents are the folks who are doing everything to fight the 100,000 plus overdose a year in this country by enforcing the law.  That’s their mission. They are the enforcement arm of the three-legged stool (drug prevention, enforcement, and treatment) that is drug policy in the United States and around the globe.  At a time when DEA is most needed, this swap sends the message to the rank-and-file agents that the White House thinks very little of what they do and will trade away some of  the highest value targets DEA investigates and prosecutes for votes and public image and has created a lop-sided relationship with Russia.  However, knowing these men and women like we do, we can assure you they will continue to do their job admirably to protect our citizens against those who “prey on human frailty for profit”. 

Regardless of whether you think the sentence was too severe for Griner, the disparity of the swap weakens the US’ position with Russia and sets a terrible precedent for future prisoner exchanges.  The fact that the Biden Administration traded Griner for someone who will now once again wreak havoc on the world as a pseudo-State sponsored actor makes this administration seem feeble and non-supportive of law enforcement., non-supportive of drug enforcement, non-supportive of gun control (except in the US where we do have a 2nd Amendment).  This horrible “political” exchange demonstrates that the Biden administration is weak and is more concerned with political jockeying than protecting the American people.  Remember, Bout was charged and convicted of conspiracy to provide material support to a designated foreign terrorist organization with the specific intent to kill Americans.

Lets’ not even go too deep into all the other swaps this Administration is responsible for which set aside DEA’s hard work- see, for example, articles written by other DEA colleagues Biden’s prisoner swaps are setting a terrible precedent ( and  The Bout swap also puts law enforcement agents and prosecutors, specifically the DEA agents involved in this investigation, and US citizens traveling abroad at risk.  It is not a far stretch to believe Bout and his confederates will attempt to seek retribution against DEA and the US and has shown himself both willing and able to do so.

Again, we are sure Griner’s friends, family, and fans are happy to have her home, however, the Biden administration has gone against so many of its principles – and DEA – to make this very bad prisoner swap.  The two cases are not comparable except that both Bout and Griner have some level of disdain for the United States of America. However outside of that, the Biden Administration must have seen the disparity in this prisoner exchange but ignored it for political reasons. Politics should not get in the way of enforcing the law and national security -in the opinion of the Association of Federal Narcotics Agents and its members.

Greg Cherundolo

Lop-Sided Prison Exchanges: Ob Ed

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