DEA Slaps Requester with $1.46 Million in FOIA Fees

Dea_color_logoThe Archive’s Nate Jones on the extraordinary case of a Mexican journalist slapped with $1.46 million in FOIA fees by the DEA.


NSArchive FOIA Project Director Nate Jones. NSArchive FOIA Project Director Nate Jones.

Last year, a FOIA requester filed a Freedom of Information Act request with the Drug Enforcement Administration asking for information about the DEA’s role in the search and capture of the Mexican Cartel boss Joaquin Guzman, more commonly known as “El Chapo.”

Last month – eight months after the FOIA’s statutory twenty-day deadline had expired — the agency informed the requester that it would cost a whopping $1.46 million to search, review, process, and print the documents, causing the stunned requester to abandon his effort. Using the specter of unrealistically high FOIA fees, the DEA successfully evaded a request for materials of high public interest.

This Sunshine Week, it’s important to recognize that FOIA fee barriers are not isolated incidents. The Federal FOIA Advisory Committee, made up of government and non-government members including myself, has identified fees as the most frequentlycontentious issue in…

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