Uttam Dhillon, an Indian-origin lawyer serving in the White House, has been named the acting administrator of the drug enforcement administration (DEA), the agency that combats the smuggling and use of narcotics in the US. Dhillon has already started working on his new assignment.
“With one American dying of a drug overdose every nine minutes, there can be no doubt that we are facing the deadliest drug epidemic in our history,” US attorney general Jeff Sessions said on Monday. “The work of the drug enforcement administration is critical to fighting this crisis, and President (Donald) Trump and I are committed to continuing to give it the strong leadership it deserves. That is why I am pleased to appoint Uttam Dhillon as acting administrator.”
As deputy counsel and deputy assistant to Trump, Dhillon had been a part of the discussions that led to the firing of FBI director James Comey in May 2017.
Dhillon has had a long career battling drug traffickers and violent crime, according to the justice department. In 2006, he became the first director of the office of counternarcotics enforcement at the department of homeland security.
Prior to that, he served as an associate deputy attorney general in the justice department, in which role he headed the attorney general’s anti-gang coordination committee and led efforts to formulate policies and programs to combat violent crime and criminal gangs.
Dhillon earlier served as an assistant US attorney in California for more than six years.
Indian American attorney Uttam Dhillon, who has been serving in the White House since the advent of the Trump Administration, was appointed as the acting administrator of the Drug Enforcement Agency July 2.
Dhillon currently serves as Deputy Counsel and Deputy Assistant at the White House. He is perhaps best known as the White House attorney who tried to stop President Donald Trump from firing former FBI Director James Comey last year; Dhillon was concerned that if Comey were fired, the Trump presidency could be imperiled, because it would force the Justice Department to open an investigation into whether Trump was trying to derail the Russia investigation, reported The New York Times. Dhillon argued that the president needed cause to fire Comey; Trump went with the advice of a junior attorney who said Comey was like any other employee and could be fired for any reason.
Dhillon, who served in the Justice Department early in his career, worked for Comey from 2003-2006 as associate deputy attorney general. Comey was deputy attorney general from 2003-2005.
“With one American dying of a drug overdose every nine minutes, there can be no doubt that we are facing the deadliest drug epidemic in our history,” U.S. Attorney General Jeff Sessions said in an announcement released July 2.
“The work of the Drug Enforcement Administration is critical to fighting this crisis, and President Trump and I are committed to continuing to give it the strong leadership it deserves. That is why I am pleased to appoint Uttam Dhillon as Acting Administrator.”
“Uttam is a dedicated public servant who has served with distinction in the White House, the Department of Justice, the Department of Homeland Security, Congress, and as a career federal prosecutor taking on drug traffickers at the highest levels,” said Sessions in the announcement.
Dhillon will replace Robert Patterson, who has served as DEA administrator for 30 years. He began serving in the new role on the same day the announcement was made.
Dhillon has had a long career battling drug traffickers and violent crime, according to the statement released by the Attorney General’s office. In 2006, Dhillon was confirmed by the Senate as the first director of the Office of Counter-narcotics Enforcement at the Department of Homeland Security. In that role, Dhillon served as the primary policy advisor on counter-narcotics issues, focused on combating the connections between illegal drug trafficking and terrorism, and developed regional counter-narcotics strategies for DHS.
At the Justice Department, Dhillon chaired the Attorney General’s Anti-Gang Coordination Committee, and led efforts to combat violent crime and criminal gangs. Earlier on in his career, Dhillon worked as an Assistant United States Attorney in the Central District of California, and was appointed to the Justice Department’s Organized Crime Drug Enforcement Task Force; he led a multi-agency effort to investigate violent gangs and major narcotics trafficking organizations.
Dhillon has also served as Chief Oversight Counsel for the U.S. House of Representatives Financial Services Committee.
Dhillon received his law degree from Boalt Hall School of Law at the University of California, Berkeley; an M.A. from the University of California, San Diego; and a B.A. from California State University, Sacramento.