How to Become a DEA Agent in Washington, DC by Meeting Requirements

Drug abuse is higher in Washington D.C. than anywhere else in the U.S. according to a 2011 study conducted by the Substance Abuse & Mental Health Services Administration. Dependence is highest among individuals between the ages of 18-25 and marijuana and cocaine are the two illegal drugs most frequently used.

The Washington D.C. division of the Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) oversees Maryland, West Virginia and Virginia and includes offices in Baltimore MD, Richmond and Roanoke VA and Charleston WV. Still, DEA agents based right in Washington see most of the action in the area.

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Major DEA Operations out of Washington D.C.

At a July 2012 press conference in Washington, D.C., DEA Administrator Michele M. Leonhart announced the successful conclusion of Operation Log Jam, the largest action of its kind in the DEA’s history. The DEA and other federal, state and local law enforcement agencies conducted a coordinated raid on synthetic drug distributors in 109 cities across the country. This concerted, multi-jurisdictional operation resulted in the seizure of tens of millions of doses of both synthetic cannabinoids and cathinones (bath salts). Leonhart emphasized that the DEA instituted Operation Log Jam as the result of urgent requests from local law enforcement agencies due to the “exploding synthetic drug problem.”

There are many other equally important but less spectacular DEA activities in D.C. In February, 2013, a medical doctor pled guilty to distributing the highly addictive painkiller, oxycodone, to persons without a medical need. Within a four-month period he issued thousands of prescriptions without medical exams. Unfortunately for him, he gave two of those prescriptions to undercover agents. This ongoing operation has resulted in the conviction of 200 drug traffickers to date.

Two other ongoing drug trafficking operation resulted in the March sentencing of career offender Samuel Braxton to 27 years in prison for selling  PCP, crack cocaine and heroin, and the January 2013 arrest of 18 defendants accused of participating in a large drug trafficking ring operating in the region. These kinds of ongoing actions are constantly taking scores of criminals off the streets of D.C. and the surrounding area.

How to Become a DEA Agent in Washington, D.C.

DEA agents are members of an elite force of federal law enforcement officers and it is not easy to join their ranks. Candidates must be U.S. citizens between the ages of 21-36 who are in good health and physical condition. Preference is given to persons with experience in narcotics investigations for other law enforcement agencies as well as individuals with a law, undergraduate or graduate degree. Anyone just entering college who is considering a career as a DEA agent would be wise to major in one of the following:

  • Criminal justice or a related discipline
  • Accounting
  • Finance
  • Economics
  • Electrical or mechanical engineering
  • Computer Science/information systems
  • Foreign language  (Arabic, Chinese, Hebrew, Japanese, Nigerian dialects, Russian or Spanish) with verified fluency

Preference is also given to individuals with a military leadership background or substantive work experience in any of the above areas. The hiring process can take a year or more and includes a battery of written, oral, physical fitness, polygraph, medical and psychological tests as well as 18 weeks of rigorous training at a resident facility in Virginia. Agents must be willing to relocate. Those who make it through the hiring process find that the effort was well worth it.

Application information is available online at the DEA website or by contacting the division office at Techworld Plaza, 800 K St. NW, Suite 500, Washington D.C. 20001. Tel.: 202/305-8800.

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