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Nelson Santos

In his capacity as the Deputy Assistant Director of the Office of Forensic Sciences at the Drug Enforcement Agency (DEA), Nelson Santos leads the largest de-centralized forensic science laboratory system in the federal government, including eight regional laboratories, six sub-regional laboratories, and one research laboratory, together consisting of over 550 scientific, technical, and administrative personnel. He serves as the principle advisor to the DEA Administration on all matters pertaining to Forensic Science, Hazardous Waste Disposal, and Environmental Management.

Upon graduating in 1987, he worked as a Forensic Chemist in Miami and held supervisory and managerial positions in Miami, Chicago and Washington, DC. He has led significant efforts to enhance DEA laboratory system operations to include implementing a system-wide LIMS (Laboratory Information Management System); developing and implementing DEA’s first centralized training program for forensic chemists, and reorganizing drug research activities and functions. Throughout his career, Mr. Santos has been active in the national and international forensic science community holding several key leadership positions in prominent organizations. He served as the vice-chair for the National Commission on Forensic Science from 2013-2017 and from 2010-2013, Mr. Santos served as the Chair of Interpol’s Forensic Science Symposium Committee. He was the DEA member-representative to the White House Subcommittee of Forensic Science and served for five years as Chair of the Scientific Working Group for the Analysis of Seized Drugs (SWGDRUG). 

Mr. Santos chaired the Council of Federal Forensic Laboratory Directors (CFFLD) for three years, and from 2004-2006 he served on the Board of the American Society of Crime Laboratory Directors (ASCLD).  He remains an active member of ASCLD, American Society for Testing and Materials (ASTM), the International Association of Chiefs of Police (IACP) Forensics Committee and Interpol’s Forensic Science Managers Organizing Committee. Mr. Santos holds a Bachelor of Arts in Chemistry (’87) from Florida International University and a Master’s in Public Administration from George Mason University.

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