Sean Dunagan | LEAP | Law Enforcement Against Prohibition

About Sean Dunagan

Former DEA Senior Intelligence Research Specialist
Washington, DC

"Around the world, governments are squandering precious resources on fighting the drug war while society suffers."

Sean Dunagan
From 1998 to 2011, Sean Dunagan served as an intelligence research specialist for the United States Drug Enforcement Administration. Over the course of his career within the DEA, he participated in dozens of federal drug investigations during tours of duty in Florida and Pennsylvania as well as internationally in Mexico and Guatemala.

From a law enforcement family where his father was the town police chief, Sean always knew he wanted to go into public service and to make a positive contribution to people’s lives. Within his first few years with the DEA, however, he began to doubt the efficacy of the drug war. It was during his time in Guatemala that he truly started to understand the grave effects of prohibition.

Sean explains: “I saw that Guatemala was very poor, with an abysmal educational system, high infant mortality, malnutrition, poor health care, and very under-developed national infrastructure. Yet the government, at U.S. insistence, directed much of its resources to fighting drug traffickers. The people there suffer two-fold: precious government resources are squandered fighting the drug war, and the only tangible results for those expenditures are higher crime and law enforcement that can’t do its job. This is occurring all over the globe.”

One case that sticks in Sean’s mind was a 1995 murder in which three people were murdered. While assisting with trial preparation, Sean learned that one small-time crack cocaine dealer had gotten into a dispute with a rival. Two of the dealer’s associates ambushed the rival dealer as he drove into their apartment complex with his girlfriend and her 5-year-old son. All three were killed. “My son was four at the time,” Sean says. “Going through forensic photos from the case, it stuck with me that the violence which prohibition causes is real. Just as with alcohol prohibition, drug prohibition artificially inflates profit margins for the banned substance and simultaneously removes any legal and peaceful means of dispute resolution.”

Sean holds a B.A. in philosophy and religion from Flagler College and a Master of Public Administration from Valdosta State University. He lives with his wife and four children in Washington, DC and works at a government accountability organization.

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