A top Drug Enforcement Administration employee was had to retire as a result of a federal probe concerning his relationship with defense attorneys who represented suspected drug traffickers.
According to Fox News, Nicholas Palmeri worked as the DEA’s senior official in North and Central America before a move unexpectedly terminated his 14-month stint in Mexico City.
Palmeri, who had over 20 years of service with the DEA, was pulled from his position while the federal agency examined his contacts with traffickers’ attorneys, according to records acquired by the Associated Press.
During Palmeri’s term, the flow of drugs through the southern border increased.
The DEA quietly ousted its former top official in Mexico last year (Nicholas Palmeri) over improper contact with lawyers for narcotraffickers, an embarrassing end to a brief tenure marked by deteriorating cooperation and a record flow of drugs https://t.co/WJUFOazp7n
— Sanho Tree (@SanhoTree) January 28, 2023
In May 2021, Palmeri was relocated to the DEA headquarters in Washington, D.C.
He will retire in March of 2022.
According to the Associated Press, a DEA investigation discovered that Palmeri and his wife spent two days at the house of criminal defense attorney David Macey in the Florida Keys.
A DEA agent was accused with supplying secret information to Macey in exchange for financial bribes, prompting the visit.
Also accused in providing translation services for another defense attorney was Palmeri’s wife.
The inquiry also revealed that Palmeri had visited a private residence in Miami to meet with a confidential agency source, bringing a bottle of wine with him.
The agency’s investigators did not accept Palmeri’s justification that the encounter was for official business.
“The meeting had the appearance of a social interaction with a confidential source,” a document on Palmeri’s conduct read, according to the AP.
“There was no contemporaneous official DEA documentation concerning the substance of the debrief, both of which violate DEA policy.”
Palmeri later acknowledged that he had shown “not the best judgment” as Regional Director of the DEA’s North and Central Americas Region.
However, the agency employee condemned the inquiry that led to his resignation, describing it as a “witch hunt” that produced “an ill-conceived narrative to remove me from my position.”
In a statement sent to the AP, a DEA official stated that the agency “has zero tolerance for illegal communications between defense counsel and DEA agents.”
“The DEA aggressively investigates this serious misconduct and takes decisive action, including removal, against employees who engage in it.”