Lavish Party, Bitter Infighting Led to Top DEA Official’s Downfall

By Steve Neavling

Less than two years before the DEA quietly removed a former top DEA official from Mexico, he held a lavish birthday party for himself at a mansion in Mexico City. 

The hosts included high-ranking Mexican officials and a few bigwigs from other U.S. law enforcement agencies. 

The party contributed to Agent Nicholas Palmeri’s downfall, Vice reports, providing new details about the events surrounding his final years with the DEA.

“I’m not saying it was misconduct,” Palmeri told Vice during an extensive interview. “I probably could have used better judgment.”

Palmeri is accused of socializing and vacationing with Miami drug lawyers after serving 14 months as the DEA’s regional director.

Palmeri, who worked for the agency for more than two decades, was transferred to Washington headquarters in May 2021 before his forced retirement in March 2022. 

Matt Donahue, a senior DEA official who oversaw Palmeri, was allegedly forced to retire early after blowing the whistle. 

Documentation obtained by Vice shows Pameri spent about $11,000 per month for housing from July into early October 2020, and about $16,000 per month from late October to November. 

His superiors approved the arrangements. 

Later, in early March 2021, Palmeri allegedly told his boss to “go f**k yourself” after he was barred from taking a trip from Mexico City to Guadalajara. 

That was “the straw that broke the camel’s back,” a source said. 

Read the full Vice report here.

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