Forbes magazine lists San Francisco as one of the five drug capitals of the U.S. and a study by the Substance Abuse & Mental Health Adm. revealed that the “Golden Gate City” has the highest percentage of regular drug users (13%) of any U.S. metropolitan area in the nation. It’s not surprising that San Francisco is home to one of the 21 national divisions of the Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA).
San Francisco became famous in the 1960’s as a hub for an acid-dropping, flower-power, hippie sub-culture. Haight Asbury is now a neighborhood of high-end boutiques, internet cafes and hip restaurants. Nevertheless, the hippies’ voracious appetite for psychedelic drugs has been replaced by a new generation that prefers cocaine and illegal prescription drugs. Although fatal overdoses of heroine have plummeted, cocaine-related deaths have increased to over 133/year and fatal overdoses of prescription drugs have skyrocketed.
The DEA in San Francisco
The San Francisco division of the DEA encompasses eight regional offices that can provide career opportunities for aspiring special agents and other DEA professionals, including diversion investigators, forensic and fingerprint specialists, accountants, information technologists and intelligence researchers.
Thanks to the efforts of these DEA professionals, a November 2012 federal grand jury indicted 11 members of a drug trafficking/money laundering network that resulted in the seizure of over 570 pounds of methamphetamines with a street value exceeding $6 million, the largest meth bust in DEA history.
Tourist guidebooks describe San Francisco’s Tenderloin district as a best-to-avoid neighborhood of prostitutes, drug addicts and street people. DEA agents know it as a center for meth labs and other illegal activities. A two-year undercover operation recently shut down two Tenderloin grocery markets that were a haven for illegal drug sales and places to fence stolen goods.
The San Francisco DEA not only works to stop lawbreakers but also strives to reduce illegal drug use. The Demand Reduction Program (DRP) develops and disseminates information about the harmful effects of illicit drug use that targets youth and parents. DRP also maintains two websites, Just Think Twice and Get Smart about Drugs.
Becoming a DEA Agent in San Francisco
There are specific qualifications for becoming a DEA special agent. Applications are only accepted from U.S. citizens aged 21-36 who are in excellent physical condition with sharp hearing/vision (no hearing aids or color blindness) and the ability to lift/carry objects weighing 45 or more pounds. Candidates must also be able to obtain a top secret security clearance.
Qualified individuals must meet other requirements, including:
- Educational requirement of a law degree or bachelor’s or master’s degree in criminal justice or a related subject OR
- Specialized law enforcement experience related to narcotics investigations OR
- Three or more year’s substantive experience in specific areas, including military leadership, accounting, foreign languages, mechanical/electrical engineering, piloting a plane or serving as a ship’s first mate or navigational officer.
San Francisco is home to numerous educational institutions that offer both bachelor’s and master’s degrees in criminal justice.
There are also numerous accredited online colleges/universities that fill the requirement.
How to Apply for a DEA Career in San Francisco
The San Francisco division office regularly participates in local career fairs and offers orientation meetings for would-be applicants. Contact Special Agent Recruiter Jeanne Allen at 415/436-7814 for dates/times. The DEA is an equal opportunity employer that provides excellent salaries and all federal benefits.