Coast Guard Law Enforcement
The Coast Guard officially established the LEDET program in 1982. The first LEDETs operated directly under Groups and Districts, where they served as law enforcement specialists, conducting training and local operations. In 1986, Public Law (P.L.) 99-570 specifically authorized the establishment of billets for active duty USCG personnel to carry out drug interdiction operations from naval surface vessels provided by the Department of Defense (DoD). Since Posse Comitatus strictly prohibits DoD personnel from directly engaging in law enforcement activities, LEDETs were tasked with operating aboard USN ships to investigate contacts and conduct boardings in accordance with USCG policy and directives. In accordance with P.L. 99-570, LEDETs were to deploy on U.S. Navy (USN) "ships of opportunity", transiting or operating in areas frequently used by illegal drug traffickers. In 1988, P.L. 100-456 made it a requirement that USCG law enforcement personnel be assigned to each appropriate USN surface vessel that transits a drug interdiction area.
The 1989 National Defense Authorization Act designated the DoD as the lead agency of the Federal Government for the detection and monitoring of aerial and maritime trafficking of illegal drugs into the United States or any of its Commonwealths, Territories, or Possessions. In turn, the Coast Guard was designated the lead agency for the interdiction and apprehension of illegal drug traffickers on the high seas. In order to meet these statutory responsibilities, the DoD deploys surface assets to drug interdiction areas, making ships available for direct support of USCG law enforcement operations.