With a population of 3,819,702 Los Angeles is the largest city in California and the second largest in the nation. This capital of business, entertainment, media and international trade has been labeled a High Intensity Drug Trafficking Area by the U.S. Department of Justice’s National Drug Intelligence Center. Although the local production of methamphetamine (meth) has declined, it remains the most accessible drug in L.A. due to Mexican imports. Wholesale cocaine is also widely available and Mexican traffickers use L.A. as a transit hub for distribution across the U.S.
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A January 13, 2013 report of the L.A. County Department of Public Health states that prescription drug abuse is one of the “fastest-growing health concerns in L.A.” Statistics indicate that prescription painkillers, stimulants and sedatives have become the second most-abused drug type with a 30 percent increase in overdose deaths since 1997. Dangerous prescription drugs like oxycodone are now often the first illegal drugs tried by L.A. youth. Eleven percent of L.A. students in grade nine reported that they’ve taken illegal prescription drugs, while 37 percent of students in the same age rage who attend continuation or alternative high schools report prescription drug use.
The Los Angeles DEA Division office is one of the nation’s largest. It includes three regional offices in California, two in Nevada, two in Hawaii and one in Guam. Agents and other professionals who work in L.A. are involved in many huge, long-term operations.
Becoming a DEA Agent in Los Angeles
Basic qualifications for becoming a DEA Agent are:
- U.S. Citizen
- Between 21-36 years of age
- Excellent physical condition
- Able to obtain a secret security clearance
- Willing to relocate
- Substantial experience investigating drug-related crimes OR
- Law degree, B.S. or M.S. (preferably in criminal justice) combined with three years experience in a specified area.
Qualified candidates must successful pass a series of written, oral, medical, psychological, drug, polygraph and physical fitness tests, after which there is a mandatory 18 weeks of training in Virginia. Go to the DEA website for application information or call L.A. recruiting agent Adrianna Guzman at 213/621-7056.
DEA Agents at Work in Los Angeles
On March 6, 2013, an investigation conducted by the DEA and the L.A. Sheriff’s Department resulted in life sentences for two brothers, former leaders of Puente-13, who were convicted of violating the Racketeer Influenced Corrupt Organizations Act (RICO) for distributing large amounts of meth, in addition to and committing violent acts, including murder. The Puente-13 street gang was formed 60 years ago with the backing of a prominent Mexican mafia family. It currently includes over a dozen subgroups in L.A., all still loyal to the mafia.
On March 20, 2013, DEA agents arrested 10 individuals suspected of being complicit in the operation of 15 marijuana growing houses in L.A. and adjoining counties. The group leased or bought single-family homes and converted them into indoor marijuana farms using sophisticated hydroponic growing equipment that was kept running with electricity stolen by bypassing utility meters. Each house was growing between 1,000 and 2,000 plants. All together, over 8,000 marijuana plants, seven firearms and $250,000 in cash were seized The widespread investigation was conducted in cooperation with the L.A. Police and Sheriff Departments, the FBI, Homeland Security and the Bureau of Alcohol, Firearms and Explosives.