Mary Irene Cooper


As Chief of the Drug Enforcement Administration’s (DEA) Office of Congressional and Public Affairs (CP), Mary Irene Cooper oversees promotion of the mission and accomplishments of the DEA. She manages the agency’s liaison with Congress and the media; written, audio, and visual communications about the agency; the DEA Museum; and the agency’s demand reduction program. Since Ms. Cooper joined CP in February 2005, she has tremendously raised DEA’s public profile: 3.9 million news stories relating to DEA’s mission and accomplishments have appeared nationally and internationally—compared to 63,000 in the two years prior. Under Ms. Cooper’s leadership, rapport with the U.S. Congress has increased in quantity and quality. Her management enhancements within CP have resulted in clear improvements to congressional awareness of DEA’s programs and achievements. Ms. Cooper’s focus on increasing public awareness of the agency and drug trends has resulted in a near tripling of visitors to the DEA website, from 3.5 million hits annually to 9.6 million. Furthermore, under her leadership, DEA launched an unprecedented, proactive teen website called “”

Prior to taking the helm of CP, from 2003-2005 Ms. Cooper served as Special Agent in Charge of DEA’s Special Operations Division (SOD), the first woman to lead this high profile division. She led high impact, multijurisdictional, multinational, multiagency investigations targeting foreign drug kingpins and their U.S.-based operatives. At SOD, Ms. Cooper managed an annual budget in excess of $40 million and staff of 300 agents, analysts, investigators, and support staff. Under her leadership, SOD culminated major investigations that dismantled and disrupted some of the world’s most prolific and long entrenched drug traffickers. These operations included the Caribbean Initiative, a long-term Organized Crime and Drug Enforcement Task Force investigation that shut down Caribbean transportation organizations that were shipping an estimated ten percent of cocaine available in the United States. She also oversaw investigations leading to the extradition of the so-called “kings of cocaine,” leaders of the Colombian North Valley Cartel, that is estimated to be responsible for smuggling 1.2 million pounds of cocaine worth over $10 billion between 1990-2005. Further, under her leadership Operation Candy Box shut down a huge Ecstasy and marijuana trafficking ring operating in Canada and the United States and disrupted the organization’s international money laundering business.

Ms. Cooper joined DEA in the mid-1980’s as a Special Agent in the Philadelphia Field Division and went on to serve in DEA’s New York and Los Angeles offices. In the latter, she served on a task force that investigated and prosecuted those responsible for the 1985 kidnapping, torture, and murder of DEA Special Agent Enrique Camarena in Mexico. She served for three years as Assistant Country Attaché in DEA’s Paris Country Office in the early 1990’s.

Ms. Cooper has received the DEA Administrator’s Award and the Attorney General’s Award for Excellence in Law Enforcement. She holds a Bachelor of Science degree from Pennsylvania State University.

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