Bureau of Narcotics Credentials

  Credentials issued in 1944 to Robert S. O'Brien
5.5" L x 7.125" W
Accession Number:

Before DEA, the Federal Bureau of Narcotics (FBN) was one agency that enforced drug laws. Criminal gangs smuggling illicit drugs into the U.S. alarmed government officials, inspiring Congress to pass legislation restricting the possession and distribution of narcotics. These early 20th-century laws used commercial regulations and taxation to target drug trafficking and misuse. The FBN operated under the U.S. Department of the Treasury, and its agents carried pocket credentials like Robert S. O’Brien’s issued in 1944. This official document includes an embossed photograph of O’Brien, his identification number, and the signature of Commissioner Harry Jacob Anslinger, who served in that position for 32 years. Its brown leather bifold protected O’Brien’s credentials from daily wear and the effects of time.

The document reads:

The United States Treasury Department, Bureau of Narcotics, Washington, D.C., May 17, 1944. These Presents Witness That Robert S. O’Brien, (whose photograph and signature under official seal are annexed), is regularly appointed and commissioned by the Bureau of Narcotics of the United States Treasury Department to enforce the laws and regulations relating to the taxation, importation, exportation, manufacture, production, compounding, sale, exchange, dispensing, giving away, possession, transportation or use of narcotic drugs, or other laws, under the authority vested in the Bureau of Narcotics by the Congress of the United States and the Secretary of the Treasury. [Signed] H J Anslinger, Commissioner of Narcotics. This commission is void if autographed photograph of appointee does not bear the seal of the Treasury Department. No. C863.