The Drug Enforcement Agency (DEA) investigates drug trafficking in Douglas, one of the most active border ports of entry along the Mexican border. Special agents who are under the auspices of the DEA’s Phoenix Division work in tandem with the Border Patrol to intercept drugs being smuggled across the border.
- Grand Canyon University - B.S. in Justice Studies and M.S. in Criminal Justice
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What it Takes to Become a DEA Agent in Douglas
A number of different careers can serve as stepping-stones to become a DEA agent. One way to join the agency is to have previous law enforcement experience investigating drug trafficking. Another is to obtain a Master’s, J.D., or LL.B. degree. Another qualification is to have a Bachelor’s degree with a 2.95 GPA. This requirement is waived for people with three years of special skills, including military service or experience as an engineer, accountant, information technology specialist, airline pilot or ship’s captain, or being fluent in any one of a number of different languages.
Douglas residents who want to learn how to become a DEA agent should contact the Phoenix Division of the agency to find out if jobs are available in the Douglas area. Additional requirements include having excellent physical and mental health, along with superb vision and hearing.
Recruits obtain their formal training in Quantico, Virginia. Both the DEA and FBI Academies are located on the same grounds in this city. DEA agents in training pursue their academic studies at the DEA Academy. Practical training such as learning proficiency in firearms, high level driving, and getting in shape physically takes place at the FBI Academy.
Drug Interdictions by DEA Agents in Douglas
Douglas is one of two ports of entry along the southwestern border in Arizona that operates 24 hours a day. Drugs are smuggled across the border in vehicles at this busy border port. In addition, the terrain around Douglas is rugged and rural, and people on foot bring marijuana across the border on backpacks.
Stepped up efforts by the DEA and other law enforcement agencies have put a dent in traditional ways of smuggling. This has led drug traffickers to try to thwart interdiction efforts by using new and novel methods to smuggle drugs through Douglas. They have used scuba gear to travel through the sewers and fly ultralight aircraft across the border.
In addition to being a major transit point for illicit drugs coming into the country, Douglas is also used as a place to stash drug shipments. Once they are in the U.S., these drugs are readied for distribution to more northern cities in Arizona where they are shipped to the rest of the region and the country. DEA agents in Douglas have made a number of busts, with one of them being historic.
In 1990, rumors of a drug tunnel became reality as geologists used seismic profiling equipment to locate a highly advanced tunnel leading from the Mexican city of Agua Prieta to a warehouse in Douglas. The sophisticated $1.5 million tunnel had electricity and a hydraulic system that lifted a pool table on a concrete slab to reveal its entrance. The DEA estimated that traffickers had used the tunnel to transport cocaine for six month. They also thought that the tunnel had been used to send the proceeds back to Mexico.
Addressing the Drug Problem in Douglas
Federal officials have found that most of the illicit drugs smuggled into the U.S. travel through Southern Arizona. The threat is considered so severe that Cochise County was designated part of the Arizona HIDTA (High Intensity Drug Trafficking Area) in 1990. Douglas has been found to be a key location for drug smuggling.
The situation is considered such a high security risk to the U.S. that specialized military teams are part of a task force using advanced radar and heat-sensing technology to detect ultralight planes that transport drugs over the rugged terrain surrounding Douglas.
Marijuana – While Mexican cartels transport most of the pot that is smuggled into Douglas, street level gangs are involved in the local distribution of the drug. Pot is the most heavily abused drug in Arizona, and there is a ready market for the drug in Douglas. Gangs from California have started operating in Douglas to avoid California’s three strikes law.
Methamphetamine – Mexico is a major source of methamphetamine for U.S. markets. State and local law enforcement officials surveyed in 2010 considered the ice form of meth to be the biggest threat in Arizona’s HIDTA region. Both trafficking and use of the drug are associated with a high level of violence.
Cocaine – The location of Douglas near the Sonoran border had made it a major destination for cocaine that is transported to Mexico from South America. Interdiction efforts by the DEA and other officials have helped to reduce the flow of cocaine into the U.S, but cocaine trafficking through Douglas is still considered a serious problem.