The Drug Enforcement Administration was established on July 1, 1973, by Reorganization Plan No. 2 of 1973, signed by President Richard Nixon on July 28. It proposed the creation of a single federal agency to enforce the federal drug laws as well as consolidate and coordinate the government's drug control activities. Congress accepted the proposal, as they were concerned with the growing availability of drugs. As a result, the Bureau of Narcotics and Dangerous Drugs (BNDD), the Office of Drug Abuse Law Enforcement (ODALE); approximately 600 Special Agents of the Bureau of Customs, Customs Agency Service, and other federal offices merged to create the DEA.
From the early 1970s, DEA headquarters was located at 1405 I ("Eye") Street NW in downtown Washington, D.C. With the overall growth of the agency in the 1980s (owing to the increased emphasis on federal drug law enforcement efforts) and a concurrent growth in the headquarters staff, DEA began to search for a new headquarters location; locations in Arkansas, Mississippi, and various abandoned military bases around the United States were considered. However, then–Attorney General Edwin Meese determined that the headquarters had to be located in close proximity to the Attorney General's office. Thus, in 1989, the headquarters relocated to 600–700 Army-Navy Drive in the Pentagon City area of Arlington, Virginia, near the Metro station with the same name.
On April 19, 1995, Timothy McVeigh attacked the Alfred P. Murrah Federal Building in Oklahoma City because it housed regional offices for the FBI, Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives (ATF), and DEA, all of which had carried out raids that he viewed as unjustified intrusions on the rights of the people; this attack caused the deaths of two DEA employees, one task force member, and two contractors in the Oklahoma City bombing. Subsequently, the DEA headquarters complex was classified as a Level IV installation under United States federal building security standards, meaning it was to be considered a high-risk law enforcement target for terrorists. Security measures include hydraulic steel roadplates to enforce standoff distance from the building, metal detectors, and guard stations.
The DEA is headed by an Administrator of Drug Enforcement appointed by the President of the United States and confirmed by the U.S. Senate. The Administrator reports to the Attorney General through the Deputy Attorney General. The Administrator is assisted by a Deputy Administrator, the Chief of Operations, the Chief Inspector, and three Assistant Administrators (for the Operations Support, Intelligence, and Human Resources Divisions). Other senior staff include the chief financial officer and the Chief Counsel. The Administrator and Deputy Administrator are the only presidentially-appointed personnel in the DEA; all other DEA officials are career government employees. DEA's headquarters is located in Arlington, Virginia across from the Pentagon. It maintains its own DEA Academy located on the Marine Corps Base Quantico at Quantico, Virginia along with the FBI Academy. It maintains 21 domestic field divisions with 221 field offices and 92 foreign offices in 70 countries. With a budget exceeding $2 billion, DEA employs over 10,800 people, including over 4,600 Special Agents and 800 Intelligence Analysts. Becoming a Special Agent or Intelligence Analyst with the DEA is a competitive process.