$86 Million DEA Plane Sits Unused For Seven Years [VIDEO]

Department of Justice Office of Inspector General.

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A high-tech drug surveillance aircraft purchased seven years ago at a cumulative cost of $86 million – four times its original estimate – will never fly its intended mission, a government watchdog reported Wednesday.

The Drug Enforcement Agency (DEA) and the Department of Defense “spent more than $86 million to purchase and modify a DEA aircraft with advanced surveillance equipment to conduct operations in the combat environment of Afghanistan,” a Department of Justice inspector general (IG) said.

“We found that more than seven years after the aircraft was purchased for the program, it remains inoperable, resting on jacks in Delaware and has never flown in Afghanistan,” IG Michael Horowitz said in a related official video.

“The aircraft was originally estimated to cost $22 million, but it ended up costing taxpayers nearly four times the projected amount and has missed every intended delivery date,” Horowitz continued. “Moreover, the DEA ended up pulling all of its aviation operations out of Afghanistan in July 2015, before the plane was even delivered.”

Consequently, the aircraft – part of the Global Discovery Program – will never fly its intended counter-narcotics missions in Afghanistan and will instead be used in Caribbean, Central America and South America.

“Of course, that was not the original purpose of the appropriated funding or the Global Discovery program,” IG auditor Christine Hinton-Martinez said in the video with Horowitz.

The aircraft will be finished June 2016 at the earliest – four years later than originally scheduled – and won’t have all the intended enhancements.

The DEA faced spending issues from the beginning. The agency spent nearly $3 million more on the original purchase of the aircraft than previously estimated and another $2.5 million on unapproved costs.

“To top it off, our auditors found that the DOD awarded a $1.9 million contract to build a hangar intended to house the DEA plane in Kabul, Afghanistan,” Horowitz said in a podcast. “But this hangar has never housed the aircraft, and more than likely never will.”

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