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Reno Prospects Plan to Merge FBI and DEA

THE rest of Washington may be on vacation, but Attorney General Janet Reno and her aides are hard at work on a number of problems.

Topping the list is a proposal, which seems to be gaining momentum, to merge the Federal Bureau of Investigation with the Drug Enforcement Administration as part of Vice President Al Gore Jr.'s "reinventing government" report due Sept. 7.

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Attorney General Reno told reporters that her deputy, Philip Heymann, will give her a report in approximately two weeks on the proposed merger. "It's too early to say" whether she favors the plan, Reno said. But she added that cooperation among various federal law-enforcement agencies is a top priority - especially in fighting "violence associated with drug gangs sweeping across state lines to come into a new territory."

To deal with such problems, she said, "I would like to see the FBI, ATF (Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, and Firearms), DEA, and any other agency that is involved ... work together as a team."

Another area that might be ripe for consolidation, Reno indicated, is the patrol of the nation's borders. Last week the attorney general toured the border crossing in San Ysidro, Calif., with Democratic Sens. Barbara Boxer and Dianne Feinstein of California. Based on her experiences there, Reno said she would study the question of whether the Immigration and Naturalization Service should be merged with the Customs Department to create a super-border patrol. She also is considering whether the Border Patr ol - which often complains that it's stretched too thin - needs more resources to police the Mexican border.

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