In Alabama, special agents with the Drug Enforcement Agency (DEA) operate under the auspices of the greater New Orleans Division. DEA special agents in northern Alabama work out of the Birmingham Resident Office, while DEA jobs in the southern part of state are found in the resident office located in Mobile.
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DEA Interdiction Efforts in Alabama
Since the drug trade is a problem in both urban and rural parts of Alabama, DEA agents are highly active throughout the entire state. DEA careers in Alabama involve working closely with local law enforcement to help bust criminals that distribute illicit drugs in the state. Some of the DEA’s major busts in Alabama have made headlines in recent months and drawn attention to the influence of this federal agency within the state:
- In February 2013, six individuals were convicted on federal charges for their involvement in a trafficking conspiracy that involved several kilograms of cocaine being transported and sold in Elmore, Montgomery, and Autauga counties. Local law enforcement officials worked closely with the DEA in this case to pursue and capture these drug dealers.
- A 20-year sentence was issued to a man from Selma in January 2013 for his involvement in an extensive drug trafficking conspiracy. This was due to the joint efforts of the DEA and the Selma Police Department.
- A collaboration between the DEA, the FBI and the Elmore County Drug Taskforce led to the arrest of 10 Alabama residents in January 2013 for their role in distributing crack cocaine.
- DEA jobs also involve monitoring drug treatment centers in Alabama to ensure that they are vigilant in their record keeping related to the use of drugs such as Methadone that could potentially be abused. In March 2013, a Methadone treatment center near Huntsville paid a $95,000 penalty for violations in record keeping and inventory control.
What it Takes to Become a DEA Agent in Alabama
The requirements for beginning formal DEA Academy training include having experience in drug investigations, a J.D. or LL.B degree, or else having a Bachelor’s degree with an additional qualifying feature such as being fluent in foreign languages or having a pilot’s license.
Alabama residents interested in learning how to become a DEA agent should contact the New Orleans Division to verify the availability of DEA jobs in the Birmingham and Mobile offices. Applicants must be in good medical condition, which includes having good vision, and being emotionally and mentally stable.
Before beginning a career with the DEA, new hires will get formal training at the DEA Academy in Quantico, Virginia. Practical training related to firearms, driving, and physical fitness will take place at the FBI Academy, located on the same grounds in Quantico.
Addressing the Drug Problem in Alabama
The presence of drugs in Alabama is the result of trafficking from out of state, along with the production of marijuana, methamphetamine, and designer drugs within the state. This is enough of a threat to U.S. security that part of Alabama has been designated an HIDTA (High Intensity Drug Trafficking Area). The counties of Montgomery, Mobile, Morgan, Jefferson, and Baldwin are part of the Gulf Coast HIDTA.
Marijuana – Marijuana is the primary illicit drug abused in Alabama. Almost twice as many Alabama residents received treatment for pot use in 2010 as those who were treated for using cocaine, stimulants, or other opiate drugs.
The amount of marijuana being seized within Alabama has been dramatically increasing in recent years. This is particularly true in Huntsville and the areas around it. Much of the pot sold in the state comes from the southern border and is transported through Alabama via the interstates.
Cocaine – Violence associated with the cocaine trade is a serious problem in many low-income neighborhoods in Alabama. The cocaine that makes its way to Alabama comes primarily from Mexico through the border states. The state’s proximity to the major drug trafficking hubs of Atlanta and Miami contributes to the spread and sale of both powder and crack cocaine in Alabama.
Methamphetamines – The methamphetamine trade is also responsible for much of the drug related violence in the state. Meth abuse in Alabama has been increasing dramatically, and DEA agents in the state have had their jobs cut out for them as the seizure of meth labs has increased 290% between 2007 and 2009. This represents a rate of increase nearly four times that of the national average. These labs are generally found in isolated rural communities.
There is also a widespread problem with the import of methamphetamine from Mexico, which like marijuana and cocaine, is transported from the border states. It is commonly transported in trucks and vehicles, along with being shipped in through commercial carriers.
Pharmaceuticals – Pharmaceutical drugs are also posing an addiction problem in Alabama. The drugs of choice for prescription drug addicts tend to be opiates such as Vicodin and Oxycontin. The benzodiazepine Xanax is another commonly abused pharmaceutical in Alabama.