The People at DEA

Last Updated: Wednesday, December 13, 2017

Robert W. Patterson, Acting Administrator

Robert W. Patterson was appointed as Acting Administrator for the Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) on October 2, 2017. As the Acting Administrator, Mr. Patterson is responsible for administering the enforcement of the Federal narcotics and dangerous drug laws of the Comprehensive Drug Abuse Prevention and Control Act of 1970 and the execution of all functions assigned to the DEA by the Reorganization Plan No. 2 of 1973. Acting Administrator Patterson serves as the Principal Advisor to the Attorney General on international drug control policy and related operations of the United States. He is the highest ranking career Special Agent at DEA.

Robert Patterson

Mr. Patterson had previously served as DEA’s Principal Deputy Administrator since November 2016. In that role, he served as DEA’s Chief Operating Officer, overseeing all of DEA’s enforcement, intelligence, administrative, and regulatory activities worldwide.

From November 2015 to November 2016, Mr. Patterson served as DEA’s Chief Inspector, where he oversaw the Inspection Division, comprised of the Office of Inspections, the Office of Security Programs, and the Office of Professional Responsibility. Collectively, these offices comprise DEA’s internal affairs, compliance, and security programs and provide guidance and support to DEA Headquarters and Field Offices.

Mr. Patterson has also served in a variety other positions within DEA, including Assistant Special Agent in Charge (ASAC), and later Acting Special Agent in Charge, of the Special Operations Division (SOD), where he oversaw classified programs, and communication exploitation tools, in support of field operations; and as a Group Supervisor in the Miami Division, where he led the operations of the Orlando District Office Task Force, and later served as acting ASAC.

Mr. Patterson began his career with DEA in 1988 in the New York Division, where he worked numerous RICO investigations. Mr. Patterson was also part of a special program established to combat the growing opioid epidemic and associated violence in the greater New York area.

Mr. Patterson is a native of New Jersey, and received a Bachelor of Science degree in Criminal Justice from Northeastern University, where he graduated with honors. Over his nearly 30 years with DEA, Mr. Patterson has gained a reputation as an expert on transnational criminal networks, narcotics trafficking and trends, as well as governing policy and agency oversight matters.



Dawn Mathis, Public Affairs Specialist, Houston Field Division

I began my career 24 years ago as a Diversion Investigator in Houston, Texas. As a Public Affairs Specialist (Demand Reduction Coordinator), I am required to educate the public as to the current drug trends and the dangers of drug abuse within our communities. I also host the Annual Community Awareness Conference, Prescription Drug Abuse Conference on College Campuses, Enrique “Kiki” Camarena Red Ribbon Rally, Candlelight Vigil and Community Stars Program.

After speaking to thousands of parents across the State of Texas for the past 15 years, I’ve observed that all parents are troubled by the possibility of drugs threatening their families. From my experience I’ve also learned that parents are eager to be educated and informed of the current drugs of abuse that are relative to their demographics. During my presentations I’m often approached for advice on how to prevent children from using drugs.

Here are a few tips I’ve gathered along the way.

  • Know their friends.
  • Know where they are at all times, and don’t be afraid to check your child’s room, cell phone or belongings.
  • Have dinner with your kids.
  • Be vigilant in keeping their kids away from drugs.
  • Set their standards high and refuse to reflect and share with their kids their past drug use.
  • Do not waiver in your expectations of your kids. If you accept drug use, they will have no problem living up to those expectations.



Chuvalo Truesdell, Special Agent, Public Information Officer, Atlanta Field Division.

I have given hundreds of drug education presentations to a wide variety of parents and school-aged children. Whether the parental group was inner-city or affluent, the message was always the same. I began each presentation with a video clip of a young boy (10-12 years of age) sitting on his bed listening to music. His father approaches him and presents a box, the size of a cigar box and asks where he got the box. The boy tries to reply and the father interrupts him and asks him where he learned about this stuff. The boy replied that he learned it by watching him. The video narrator says, “Parents who use drugs have kids who use drugs.” This is so true. I always remind parents that they cannot condone drinking or smoking at home because they are giving their consent for their children to model this behavior outside of the home.

In addition, parents often ask me when they should start talking to my child about drug use. This conversation should occur when the child is between the end of 3rd and early 4th grade. I stress to parents they should be educated about the signs and symptoms (behavioral & psychological) of drug use in case their children are experimenting with drugs. Without this knowledge how can they identify a problem?

Also, I share with children and parents the inevitable reality that some day (sooner or later) someone, possibly a friend or a family member, is going to offer their kids drugs. I make it clear that my older brother offered me marijuana on countless occasions, but I always said no. I was never close to saying yes, because I was comfortable with whom I was. I had already made a strong commitment to say no, regardless of who offered it.

In closing, statistics say that if a parent is successful in keeping their kid drug-free until around the age of 16, then that kid is more likely to be drug-free for a lifetime. Therefore, the parents should be up to the challenge of communicating these truths about the dangers of drug use with their children. Thus, they will have more successes than failures in keeping their children drug-free.

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