Biden, a young Senator from Delaware, had to do something to show that despite his “liberal” reputation, he could be just as tough on crime as his Republican colleagues. He took notice of the RICO law, and he realized that law enforcement agencies were not taking advantage of it, particularly in regards to the Drug War. He turned to the General Accounting Office and asked them to produce a study on the potential uses of RICO for drug enforcement.
The report showed that the RICO Act granted enormous powers to police to confiscate drug-related assets, but these powers were not being taken advantage of: “The government has simply not exercised the kind of leadership and management necessary to make asset forfeiture a widely used law enforcement technique,” the report stated. By the time the report came in, Ronald Reagan was settling into office and getting ready to wage a renewed War on Drugs.
Reagan brought the FBI into the Drug War, and he gave the director, William Webster, a mission. His agents would use the RICO Act powers to find drug rings and take away their assets. Drug cartels must be rendered unprofitable.