Fresno is the center of California’s fertile San Joaquin Valley, one of the most important agricultural areas in the U.S. With a population of 501,362 and an unemployment rate of over 14 percent, Fresno’s crime rate is higher than that of both California and the nation. The association between crime and the use of illegal drugs has been well documented.
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The Fresno Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) is part of the San Francisco division. The manufacture and distribution of crystal meth is a major target of the Fresno DEA. A single manufacturing unit is said to be capable of producing 10 pounds of crystal meth in one go. Marijuana is the second most popular drug in Fresno; however, young students are increasingly turning to inhalants like hair spray, gasoline and paint spray because of their widespread availability. They produce a rapid high but can also cause heart failure, brain damage and other health problems. The DEA has numerous programs aimed at educating youth about the dangers of drug use.
Fresno DEA Operations
On April 18, 2013, 13 individuals were indicted in a multi-million dollar drug trafficking conspiracy involving the manufacture and distribution of marijuana, oxycodone and hydrocodone. They obtained medical marijuana cards and painkiller prescriptions from doctors in order to ship the marijuana and pills to other states for sale. In total, they deposited over $3 million in local banks. DEA Acting Special Agent in charge Bruce C. Balzano said the arrests “dismantled a well-organized drug trafficking network that had distribution systems from California to Massachusetts.”
Operation Mercury is an ongoing cooperative investigation of the Fresno DEA, the Sheriff’s office, Homeland Security and the U.S. Forest Service. It was formed in 2012 for the purpose of stopping the large-scale cultivation of marijuana on agricultural land. Operation Mercury resulted in the April 2013 sentencing of a Mexican woman for the massive cultivation of marijuana in the Sequoia National Forest. She was also found guilty of breaking environmental laws by damaging public natural resources. She will be subject to deportation after serving five years in prison. Persons involved in three other marijuana cultivation ventures were sentenced in April. To date, Operation Mercury has resulted in the indictment of 83 perpetrators and the seizure of 4,714 pounds of processed marijuana, 482,479 plants, 82 weapons and $113,783 in cash.
How to Become a DEA Agent in Fresno
The DEA is a federal agency; therefore, qualifications and requirements for becoming an agent are the same for all states. All applicants must:
- Be U.S. citizens
- Be between 21 and 36 years of age
- Have sharp hearing (no hearing aids)/good vision (no color blindness)
- Be in excellent physical condition and able to life/carry 45 pounds
- Be willing to relocate
- Be able to obtain a top secret clearance
Preference is given to persons with:
- A law, bachelor’s or master’s degree
- Substantial experience investigating drug-related crimes
- Fluency in Spanish, French, Russian, Arabic, Hebrew, Chinese, Mandarin, Japanese, Nigerian dialects, Farsi, Urdu or Balkan languages
- Experience in specific occupations (see the DEA website)
Interested persons are welcome to visit the Fresno DEA office at 2444 Main St., Suite 240, Tel. 559/487-5406 or call recruiter Special Agent Jeanne Allen in San Francisco (415/436-7814) for information about upcoming orientation meetings and career fairs.