The Drug Enforcement Administration has found the drug trafficking situation in Des Moines to be serious enough that it established a Resident Office in the city. DEA agents in Des Moines often work closely with local authorities as part of the Des Moines DEA Task Force.
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Des Moines is considered to be one of the primary drug markets in the Midwest. The proximity of the city to Interstates 80 and 35 makes it a target for Mexican drug traffickers to import drugs into Des Moines and then ship them to markets in the Northeast. In addition, the city is vulnerable to drug traffickers from Chicago, which also produces gang members travel to Des Moines to distribute drugs. DEA agents in Des Moines have been working to reverse these trends and have made a number of high profile busts in the city.
Drug Interdictions by DEA Agents in Des Moines
- The DEA and the Iowa Division of Narcotics Enforcement led a multi-agency operation that result in the arrest of nine people in Des Moines in December 2012 for conspiring to distribute methamphetamine in the city.
- A DEA tip from Chicago led the Des Moines Police Department to carry out two separate busts in the same day in January 2012. This led to the arrests of four people and the seizure of 30 pounds of marijuana.
- Agents of the Des Moines Resident Office were part of a four year investigation of large scale meth trafficking. Operating out of Arkansas, the traffickers were shipping ice methamphetamine to Des Moines, along with other cities, for further distribution. In 2009, over 100 pounds of methamphetamine was seized and 84 people arrested as the culmination of this operation.
What it Takes to Become a DEA Agent in Des Moines
DEA agents come from a variety of backgrounds. Many have had careers with other agencies investigating drug trafficking conspiracies. Others have obtained J.D., LL.B., or Master’s degrees. Another qualification to join the DEA is to have a Bachelor’s degree and maintain a 2.95 average. This GPA requirement is waived for individuals who have three or more years of experience in special skills such as accounting, information technology, engineering, being an aircraft or ship pilot, having served in the military, or being fluent in one of a number of languages.
Residents of Des Moines who want to learn how to become a DEA agent should contact the St. Louis Division of the agency to see if jobs are available in Des Moines.
Recruits pursue their formal training at the DEA and FBI Academies in Quantico, Virginia. They study academic courses at the DEA Academy and train in firearms usage, pursuit and defensive driving, among other practical law enforcement skills at the FBI Academy.
Addressing the Drug Problem in Des Moines
The large amount of drug trafficking and use in Des Moines led the federal government to include Polk County when it designated the Midwest HIDTA (High Intensity Drug Trafficking Area) to help coordinate resources to fight drug trafficking in this part of the country.
Methamphetamine – The trafficking and abuse of meth is considered to be the foremost drug threat to the Des Moines metropolitan area. Mexican drug traffickers import ice meth into the city, where the sale and use of the drug contributes to violence in Des Moines.
Cocaine – Mexican drug traffickers import cocaine from Mexico and Columbia to Chicago. From there, it is brought to Des Moines by gang members and then distributed throughout the city. Both powder and crack cocaine are prevalent in Des Moines.
Marijuana – Large quantities of pot are transported to Des Moines from Mexico and the West Coast. Local production is also an issue, since the plants grow well in Iowa, and indoor cultivation has become more common. Pot is the drug of choice for Iowans who use illicit drugs.