Upon a recent delve into the most joyless aspect of the internet, twitter, I uncovered a trove of valuable documents about one of America’s least favorite and most insidious law enforcement unit: The Drug Enforcement Agency, or DEA.
While normally we prefer to come across our trash being washed down muddy rivers, this was provided to the world by Mitchell Kotler, of Muckrock, who was of the right and sound mind to ask the DEA for information.
Information about illegal activities? About the lawless side of law enforcement? No. About the patches they have made to go on the sweet sleeves of their drug enforcing uniforms! He made a shocking discovery we are here to transmit to you today:
The DEA obviously hires the same people who paint dragons, wolves, eagles, and Death onto the sides of vans.
CODE NAME UNICORN SYSTEM
Offensive Stereotype? None on display, unless unicorns are something I don’t know about the Caribbean. Or maybe “unicorn” is something racist about white people in the Caribbean?
What we can assume: That virgins were used to lure unicorns to tropical islands to be hunted by rich old white guys for their meat.
Who designed it: The girl doodling on her church pamphlet in front of you that you had a crush on but couldn’t talk to her because her dad hated you and smelled like he drank Brut aftershave. Which he did.
Random Fact: The acronym is “US!” because they didn’t have money for the “A.” Unicorn bait is expensive.
BONUS: That unicorn is using dolphins as a surfboard.
Clandestine Laboratory Enforcement Team.
We can only hope this went by the acronym CLET.
Offensive Stereotype? Not exactly. There is a nice stereotypical bit of lab equipment on there. We should be glad there’s not a pair of glasses exploding.
What we can assume: Either these guys pretended to be lab technicians, resulting in the explosions of labs when they turned out to be cops and not lab techs, or this was some sort of thing where they went undercover into meth labs that might (or did) blow up.
Who designed it: The guy who liked anime in high school but never got to go to art school because he got busted selling E to a member of CLET and made this sweet patch instead of going to jail.
Random Fact: Patches are terrible for undercover or clandestine work.
BONUS: That explosion is the same graphic the android that draws Garfield uses to show a catfight.
CODENAME: Operation Gear Grinder
Offensive Stereotype? Much in the same vein as Operation Clandestine Lab Enforcement Team, it’s not so much offensive, as it embodies a weirdly specific stereotype.
What we can assume: That at some point in the 80s, there was a scourge. A scourge that hit the gym once a week to pump up. A scourge that turned healthy young men into squinch-faced East German stereotypes before they inexplicably vanished, usually leaving behind nothing but a drug-filled gym bag on a sweaty bench, the smell of ballsacks and NAIR wafting suggestively in the moist air.
Where did they go? Consumed by that which once consumed them, as depicted in this symbolic artwork? Or was the patch not symbolic, but true? Were they sucked into the very syringes which had once juiced them to new highs?
Who designed it: The only witness to this horrible event, a tragedy that was part crime, part paranormal event, part horror story. Forever scarred, he swore vengeance, but had only his art to offer those who would hunt down the perpetrators. The pain in the victim’s face is not his own - the pain belongs to the artist, the witness who now forces those who carry out his revenge to look upon the sight that scarred him.
Random fact: This happened in 2005, not the 80s.
BONUS FACT: If this had happened in the 80s, it would have been a bitching Schwarzenegger/Stallone buddy cop movie. As a Rock/Nick Frost vehicle of the aughts, it loses a little.
Extra Bonus Fact: Also, a Team Fortress 2 event.
Operation Name: Operation Green Air
Offensive Stereotype? None at all! Good for you, DEA. Until green people are a thing, anyway.
What we can assume: That this was not, in fact, a great sequel to Soul Plane.
Who designed it: The craft services crew for Soul Plane 2: The Blackjacking.
Random Fact: This was a sting to bust people who worked at FedEx and were facilitating marijuana shipments. So, basically, a job creation program.
BONUS FACT: Snoop Dogg actually painted this on a van once.
CODENAME: Office of International Operation: Far East Section
Offensive Stereotypes? Holy shit bro. We’ve got a dragon - props on making it a Chinese-style dragon, by the way, obviously you’ve seen a Chinese New Year parade or something - and this dragon has a pot leaf, an opium poppy, an opium pipe (we’re doubling down on opium here, because we’re still fighting the Opium Wars, I guess) and a flask I assume we’re smoking crack out of or performing some decent chemistry with. The dragon, who is totally stoked, is holding 12 arrows in one hand, and a taijitu in the other, because the patchmaker only knew one additional non-drug-or-dragon related fact about most of the people on Earth.
What We Can Assume: Some fascist shit. Obviously, because it’s from the DEA, but also because it’s grasping twelve arrows, which is a Roman symbol that literal Italian fascists used. The Great Seal of the United States has an arrow-grasping Eagle on the non-Illuminati side, but the 12 sticks thing is about the fasces.
Who Designed It: Someone who saw a Chinese New Year Parade, looked around his office to see what drugs were probably overseas, and then smoked them all before remembering to double down on his stereotypes with the taijitu. He has since painted the dragon and background on several local vans.
Random Fact: That’s the font from my local Chinese takeout.
BONUS FACT: All the vans that had this dragon painted on them were mysteriously burned after Chinese New Year.
CODENAME: BERLIN GERMANY COUNTRY OFFICE
Offensive Stereotypes? Are Germans really into wolves, or is that an American thing? Just cops and soldiers and sports teams in general?
What we can assume: That the Berlin Germany Country is what we call Germany, and not the country outside of Berlin where the German office of the DEA is. The “Germany Country Office” sounds like a terrifying sex dungeon stocked with exotic sausages and secretaries with braids.
Who Designed It: A high school football team in rural Wyoming would have really loved this as a team mascot, since it was drawn by Dan Scott of the class of 88. Dan was so deep, man. Such an old soul, it's a shame that he died in a thresher accident the day before graduation.
Random Fact: The night before Dan died, he had a dream about a wolf. This wolf.
PATCH NAME: DANCING WITH DARKNESS
Holy shit. We’re beyond the stereotype list format, here. This is a work of art. First of all - you’ll notice that the DEA is referring to predator drugs. These are not, as you might assume, drugs that you give to wolves. That was handled by the Berlin Germany Country Office. I am going to go against instinct and conclude that these drugs do not, in fact, hunt people down and leap into their open mouths or veins, in a sort of reverse Operation Gear Grinder move, which was where people were sucked into drug needles, because that’s how drugs work, right?
For a serious moment, though - predator drugs are date rape drugs, and that’s a real problem, but I’m sure they’re not raiding frat houses and bars and suburban ranch houses. Not with that pacifier in the Grim Reaper’s mouth. Not with the glowsticks in his skeleton hands and that rave-worthy cowl (I may be mixing up Ravers with Reapers) - this is a party skeleton. The disco ball is shooting off colored lights, the smoke machine is cranked up, and this necromancer has revived this dead-ass party with nothing but some black magic and ecstasy.
There’s a lot more of these, so we’ll be returning to this incredibly rich subject matter at a future time. We are, after all never going to not come back to total trash.