The Biden White House announced the appointments of a new DEA director and a diplomat with expertise in Central America as head of the State Department’s narcotics and security bureau.
Biden chose Anne Milgram, a former attorney general of the state of New Jersey, as nominee for DEA director; and Todd Robinson, a former U.S. ambassador to Guatemala and chargé d’affaires in Venezuela, from where he was expelled by the tyrant Nicolás Maduro, as head of narcotics at the State Department.
Both positions require confirmation by the Senate, which has not given the green light to any nominee for DEA director since the administration of former President Barack Obama (2009-2017).
The DEA, an agency of the Department of Justice that pursues drug trafficking inside and outside the United States, has been led since 2018 on an interim basis by Uttam Dhillon, appointed by the administration of former President Trump.
Milgram, the one chosen by Biden to replace him as DEA director, has led as a federal prosecutor throughout her career investigations into human and drug trafficking, street gangs, organized crime and corruption, among other issues, in addition to being attorney general of New Jersey between 2007 and 2010, the White House said in a statement about the DEA director nominee.
Milgram is currently a professor at New York University School of Law, where she directs its Criminal Justice Lab, which promotes alternatives to incarceration for people suffering from mental health or substance abuse problems.
“There is no system that is more outdated or broken and problematic than the (U.S.) criminal justice system,” Milgram said in a 2019 interview with the website MarketWatch.
As for Robinson, Biden’s nominee as assistant secretary of state for international narcotics and law enforcement affairs, he is a career diplomat who already has experience in that office, where he served under Obama.
Robinson speaks Spanish and is well known in Latin America because he was ambassador to Guatemala from 2014 to 2017; as well as chargé d’affaires of the U.S. embassy in Caracas, from where he was expelled in May 2018 by Maduro.
Robinson then became in charge of Central America at the State Department and has also been posted as a diplomat to El Salvador, Colombia, Bolivia, the Dominican Republic, and Spain, among other countries.
Biden also nominated eight other officials on Monday, including Marcela Escobari as the new head of Latin America and the Caribbean at the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID).
Escobari already held the same position during Obama’s term, when she worked on the Peace Colombia program and on a development plan for Haiti, and “prepared a proactive strategy in the face of the humanitarian and political crisis” in Venezuela, according to the White House.
In addition, Biden chose intelligence expert Chris Inglis as National Cyber Director; Christine E. Wormuth as Secretary of the U.S. Army, one of the uniformed branches of the Pentagon; and former Latino congressman Gil Cisneros as Undersecretary of Defense for Personnel and Readiness.