Data storage shortage forces DEA to drop prosecutions, reports say

The Drug Enforcement Agency’s war on illegal drugs apparently isn’t the only battle the federal agency is fighting. According to website Ars Technica, the DEA is also battling space, having only a 40 terabyte storage system.

As a result, the space crunch has forced the agency to drop some high-profile drug prosecutions, including one case that began in 2003 and is now burdening the system with 2T of evidence, about 5 percent of its storage capacity, along with more than 400,000 documents.

In that case, the DEA indicted Armand Angulo, a Panamanian doctor living in Iowa who allegedly had sold millions of dollars worth of prescription medication online. Angulo fled to his native country in 2004, where the national constitution bans extradition of Panamanian citizens.

So at the urging of prosecutors, the DEA recently dropped the charges against the doctor because, according to published reports, the evidence was taking up too much space on the storage system.

"Continued storage of these materials is difficult and expensive," wrote Stephanie Rose, the U.S. attorney for northern Iowa, describing the ongoing evidence storage as "an economic and political hardship" for the agency.

A 40T storage system would seem pretty small these days, when agencies collect so much data and storage prices have come down so far. A 4T hard drive such as the Hitachi Deskstar 7K4000 can be had for a little as $368. And you can get Western Digital’s 2T Caviar Green 2 Desktop Hard Drive on Amazon for $125.

Ars said it attempted to contact DEA officials, but no one would comment.

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