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October 2018


How to Become a Bounty Hunter

Opinion Column By DEA Agent: Cowardly Anonymity, False Accusations, Betrayal, Lost Leadership and Tabloid News

Richard Dobrich is the Senior Executive Service Regional Director of DEA’s Andean Region (Colombia, Ecuador, and Venezuela) and a former Navy SEAL. He is scheduled to retire from DEA at the end of the month. The column is in response to an Associated Press story  that reported that DEA had received an anonymous complaint alleging Dobrich directed Colombian drivers working for the U.S. Embassy in Bogota “to procure sex workers.”

Richard Dobrich (DEA photo)

By Richard Dobrich

Don’t confuse my situation with the current upheaval in D.C. Mine is not a battle between Red versus Blue, nor He Said versus She Said, nor Accuser versus Accused.

Mine is a story of absurd and unfounded allegations, official leaks, a leadership vacuum, and tabloid press from a supposedly responsible news organization.

I find myself as the subject of a now-debunked anonymous and maliciously false letter which was sent to the Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) Office of Professional Responsibility (OPR) and the Department of Justice (DOJ) Office of the Inspector General (OIG).

I was accused of engaging in the Colombian sex trade, i.e., soliciting prostitutes while serving as the DEA Regional Director. More specifically, the allegation stated that I directed my local staff to assist me in this despicable conduct.

I was not accused of this phantom behavior by anyone involved in the sex trade – no victims have accused me of any such abhorrent behavior – and let me be clear here, I fully recognize that the sex industry in Colombia has nothing but victims – usually young women with severe economic hardships or deplorable histories of sexual abuse at home during their adolescence.

DEA OPR and DOJ OIG routinely receive allegations of misconduct. The unimpeachable moral conduct of DEA personnel (all U.S. government personnel) form the pillars upon which the Public Trust is built and there is zero tolerance for non-compliance – this is something I have always strongly subscribed to.

Some allegations are confirmed as accurate while others are discredited – in either case there is supposed to be a firewall of confidentiality and neutrality so that DEA OPR and/or DOJ OIG investigators can do their important jobs, in relative secrecy, of uncovering the truth of what has, or has not, happened.

False And Anonymous Letter

In my case, a copy of the totally false and anonymous letter was provided to the Associated Press (AP). The AP didn’t get hearsay from someone “in the know”; no, the AP received an actual copy of the letter from “DEA Sources” (as told to me by the AP).

The AP told me they didn’t know the identity of the anonymous author – presumably the AP knows their “DEA Sources”. Therefore, one can deduce that the AP’s “DEA Sources” are somewhere between DEA Executive “Leadership” or within DEA OPR.

So that’s the scene-setter. The AP gets a hot lead on a scandalous story – “the Senior Executive Regional Director (me) who was sent to Colombia in 2015 in the wake of a sex trade scandal just couldn’t resist the temptation”.

The “story” would have you believe that DEA in Colombia (or maybe it’s just me) can’t behave responsibly and ethically. Let me be unequivocally clear – the AP’s sensational storylines are categorically false and the AP was provided clear FACTS before going to print but they just couldn’t resist their own temptation to sell “print”.

To me, there is nothing more cowardly and pathetic than someone who would author anonymous and patently false accusations, which attack the moral character of someone else without one shred of evidence, not one victim’s voice, nothing other than absolute fiction.

As if a false allegation isn’t enough, I am sickened by the prospect that a “DEA Source” would leak an uncorroborated and wildly unbelievable story to the media before it had been appropriately and properly investigated.

That would sting me more than getting shot again. A leak would also constitute a serious breach of the DEA Standards of Conduct and possibly be a violation of the law.

Before you form an opinion, allow me to clarify the allegation – I was accused of using my locally employed staff (all of whom are honorable and hard working, by the way) to drive me around town in Bogota, Colombia to solicit prostitutes.

Vague Description

The anonymous letter didn’t specify where I took these prostitutes – did I utilize the backseat of my car while the driver was in front? Take them to a sleazy hotel? Or heck, maybe I just went to a city park? I mean really, could the anonymous author at least respect my intelligence enough to allege that I did this alone? I obviously did not do what has been alleged – not with the help of others nor by myself.

The anonymous author is most probably a disgruntled employee or a drug trafficker behind bars due to a DEA case.

I am used to being able to detect where enemy fire is coming from in order to protect myself and teammates — I fought the Taliban in Afghanistan alongside some of the bravest heroes within DEA and Special Operations Forces.

I am not accustomed to confronting the cowardice of anonymous and fictitious allegations.When a salacious and patently false accusation is completely discredited, as mine has been, where do I go to restore unjust damage done to my life-earned reputation?

I have demanded that DOJ OIG investigate the leak to the AP as a murder investigation because there has been an assassination on my reputation. The anonymous author of the allegation is a coward and a liar; the leak(ers) are criminal(s). As a Christian, I would actually forgive the author if they have the courage to come forward and ask for forgiveness. As for the leak(ers), I would do the same – after they are punished by the competent authority.

DEA Valor Award

I am the recipient of the U.S. Congressional Badge of Bravery, the DEA Valor Award, the DEA Purple Heart, the Federal Law Enforcement Officers Association Bravery Award and many other prestigious domestic and international awards and citations — I will give back every single award bestowed upon me if there is one person on planet earth who can substantiate the sick allegation levied against me.

DEA has almost 10,000 committed employees who do incredibly important work in the fight against transnational organized crime, the opioid epidemic, and the diversion of pharmaceuticals, among other vital missions.

It has been my absolute privilege to work alongside some of the brightest and most dedicated servants during my 28-year career within DEA and across many branches of government during all of my assignments. My faith is undiminished and the truth has set the record straight – and I’m damn proud of my record which was built alongside incredible teammates.

What about DEA “Leadership”? Since the AP story ran 3 days ago, I haven’t heard a peep from DEA “Leadership”- not an email or phone call.

That is not a nice feeling after 28 years of honorable service, but I didn’t become a DEA Special Agent in order to receive accolades or assurances.

I did it because it was a calling. Simply stated, I believe in DEA’s mission with every fiber of my being and I have loved every minute of it.

If there is a silver lining to this ordeal it’s the outpouring of love, belief, and support that my family and I have received from hundreds of friends and colleagues. I am inspired, humbled and rejuvenated – the support has been impactful and deeply appreciated.

FOOTNOTE: This can be a great blue print for a disgruntled employee to wreak havoc in an office. All they need to do is send an outlandish, totally false allegation to DEA OPR and DOJ OIG and hope that someone leaks their letter to the media. Brilliant.

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