Chief of federal drug agency resigns

May 25, 1999|By NEW YORK TIMES NEWS SERVICE

After 39 years in law enforcement, Thomas Constantine announced yesterday that he would step down as the administrator of the Drug Enforcement Administration.

Constantine, 60, said his decision was not motivated by political considerations. He said he wants to return to New York and spend more time with his family. But he has disagreed, sometimes forcefully, with the Clinton administration's portrayal of Mexico as a full ally in fighting the flow of drugs into the United States.

In February, Constantine asserted that Mexican drug trafficking organizations posed the worst criminal threat to the nation that he had seen in nearly 40 years in law enforcement. Two days later, Secretary of State Madeleine K. Albright declared that Mexico was cooperating fully with the United States in drug-fighting efforts.

During his five-year tenure, Constantine added more than 1,100 agents to the DEA and is credited with giving more agency assistance to local police departments.

He expects to leave office by July 1.

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