15 Sep 23

Responding to Target Letters From the DEA Tactical Diversion Squad

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Last Updated on: 25th September 2023, 12:36 am

Responding to Target Letters From the DEA Tactical Diversion Squad

Getting a target letter from the DEA Tactical Diversion Squad can be scary. It means you’re being investigated for possible criminal charges related to controlled substances. But try not to panic! Having an understanding of the process and your rights can help you respond appropriately. This article will explain what target letters are, why you may have gotten one, your rights and options, and strategies for responding effectively.

What is the DEA Tactical Diversion Squad?

The DEA Tactical Diversion Squad (TDS) is a special unit within the Drug Enforcement Administration. It combines DEA agents with state, local, and other federal law enforcement to investigate criminal diversion of controlled substances like prescription medications or illegal drugs[3].

TDS was created in 1996 to enhance efforts against diversion crimes. They conduct complex, multi-jurisdictional investigations and operations[5].

What is a target letter?

A target letter from TDS informs you that you’re under investigation for possible criminal charges. It may say you’re a “target” or “subject” of an investigation into drug diversion activities. This means prosecutors believe there’s evidence you may have committed a crime[1].

The letter will likely ask you to contact TDS and may try to convince you to cooperate with their investigation. But you don’t have to do anything they ask. You have constitutional rights to protect yourself.

Why did I get a target letter?

There are a few reasons TDS may have sent you a letter:

  • Prescription records show you received a lot of controlled medications
  • You had prescriptions written by “pill mill” doctors under investigation
  • Informants implicated you in diversion activities
  • You had suspicious financial transactions indicating drug trafficking

You may have done nothing wrong. Having prescriptions alone isn’t illegal. But TDS investigates when prescription patterns seem abnormal. Their goal is building a criminal case against you.

What are my rights and options?

You have important constitutional rights, including:

  • Right to remain silent – You don’t have to talk to investigators or answer questions
  • Right to an attorney – You can have a lawyer represent you in dealings with TDS
  • Presumption of innocence – You don’t have to prove your innocence, they must prove guilt

You have several options in responding:

  • Hire a lawyer – An experienced federal criminal defense attorney can protect your rights
  • Decline interview requests – You don’t have to meet with investigators if you don’t want to
  • Provide written statements – Your lawyer can provide written explanations on your behalf
  • Assert your innocence – Clearly state in writing you’ve done nothing illegal
  • Negotiate – Your lawyer may be able to negotiate with prosecutors for dropping charges

Effective strategies for responding

Here are some key strategies for responding to a DEA target letter:

Don’t panic or ignore it

It’s understandably scary getting a target letter. But ignoring it won’t make it go away. Proactively responding with experienced legal help improves your chances of a favorable outcome.

Get a lawyer immediately

Speaking with federal agents without a lawyer can be very risky. They’re building a case against you. A lawyer can deal with TDS on your behalf. Invoke your right to counsel immediately.

Decline interviews

Never meet with federal agents without your lawyer present. Politely decline interview requests or have your lawyer do so. There’s no upside to speaking with them if you’re under investigation.

Don’t volunteer information

Don’t volunteer any written or verbal statements to investigators, no matter how innocent. This can only help them build a case against you. Let your lawyer do the communicating.

Carefully review the letter

Have your lawyer carefully examine the letter to understand why you’ve been contacted and what specific allegations are being made. This will help guide your response strategy.

Correct any factual errors

If the letter contains any factual errors about prescriptions, doctors, or your background, have your lawyer clearly correct them in writing. But stick to facts – don’t make broad denials.

Request more information

Your lawyer can send TDS a letter formally requesting more information about the investigation and allegations against you. But stick to asking for details – don’t admit anything.

Make a record of your innocence

If appropriate, your lawyer can provide statements asserting your innocence and describing all your legal prescription activities. But be careful – don’t lie or exaggerate.

Explore negotiation

Based on case specifics, your lawyer may be able to negotiate with prosecutors to have charges reduced or dropped. But don’t count on this. Be prepared to defend yourself.


Getting a target letter from the DEA Tactical Diversion Squad can be unsettling. But understanding your rights and proactively responding with experienced legal counsel gives you the best chance of a favorable outcome. Don’t ignore the letter – get a lawyer right away. With the proper response, you can get through this difficult process.