WASHINGTON — After serving as acting head of the DEA since November 2007, Michele Leonhart finally got confirmed as the permanent leader of the agency.
The U.S. Senate on Wednesday night unanimously voted to confirm Leonhart, making her the 10th administrator in the DEA’s history, the agency said.
Leonhart is the first female DEA Special Agent to rise through the ranks of the agency to become its Administrator and the second woman to lead the DEA, the agency said. She joined the agency in 1980.
“I am extremely humbled and honored to have the opportunity to continue to lead the world’s premier drug law enforcement organization,” Leonhart said in a statement after the Senate vote.
“I am dedicated to meeting the challenges that DEA faces, from disrupting and dismantling extremely violent Mexican based drug cartels; to defeating narco-terrorists operating in Afghanistan and around the world; and doing all we can to reduce prescription drug abuse, our nation’s fastest growing drug threat.”
“I applaud the unanimous confirmation of Michele Leonhart, and agree with the strong bipartisan consensus validating her proven qualifications and effectiveness to lead the Drug Enforcement Administration,” said Gil Kerlikowske, Director of the Office of National Drug Control Policy.
Leonhart’s long-term status as “acting” head of the agency became a point of irritation to some current and former agents. They felt the White House didn’t care enough about the DEA to address the issue.
Whatever the case, a number of people offered laudatory words.
Margaret Moore, president of Women in Federal Law Enforcement (WIFLE) remarked: “We are confident that the newly confirmed Administrator will uphold the finest traditions of DEA and provide the constant guidance and leadership for this outstanding law enforcement agency.”