Addiction A-Z

Federal Bureau of Narcotics

The Federal Bureau of Narcotics (FBN) was established in 1930 under the US Department of Treasury and was intended to consolidate the roles of both the Federal Narcotics Control Board and the Narcotic Division; both of these older groups had been established to enforce the provisions of the Harrison Narcotics Tax Act of 1914 and the Narcotic Drugs Import and Export Act of 1922.

The first commissioner of the FBN, Harry Anslinger, was appointed by Andrew Mellon, Herbert Hoover’s Secretary of the Treasury. Under Anslinger’s leadership, the FBN advocated for increased penalties for drug use and is credited with criminalizing marijuana (Marijuana Tax Act of 1937). Since the main focus of the FBN, however, was opium and heroin smuggling, the bureau had established offices in France, Italy, Turkey, Beirut, Thailand and other locations where narcotics smuggling was prevalent. The agents cooperated with local governments in intelligence gathering and were permitted to make undercover drug busts where they operated.

In 1968, the FBN merged with the Bureau of Drug Abuse Control to form the Bureau of Narcotics and Dangerous Drugs, predecessor to the current Drug Enforcement Agency (DEA).

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