Agents of the Drug Enforcement Agency (DEA) operate throughout Kentucky to fight drug trafficking in the state. The agency has Resident offices in London and Louisville that are under the auspices of the Detroit Division of the DEA.
There are a number of career paths that can lead to obtaining DEA jobs in Kentucky. One way is to have been a law enforcement agent involved in fighting drug trafficking. Another is to obtain a J.D., LL.B., or master’s degree. Many special agents qualify for training with a bachelor’s and an accumulative GPA of 2.95, as this is the educational minimum for DEA jobs. The requirement for this GPA can be waved for bachelor’s degree holders that have three years of special skills. These include having served in the military; having been a ship captain or aircraft pilot; having been an accountant, engineer or telecommunications specialist, or being fluent in a number of foreign languages.
- Grand Canyon University - B.S. in Justice Studies and M.S. in Criminal Justice
- SNHU - A.S. in Criminal Justice, B.S. in Criminal Justice - Criminology, and M.S. in Criminal Justice
- Strayer University - Bachelors of Science Degree in Criminal Justice
- Michigan State University - Online Master of Science in Criminal Justice
- Saint Joseph's University - Online Master of Science in Criminal Justice
Residents of Kentucky who want to know how to become a DEA agent in the state are encouraged to contact the Detroit Division of the agency to find out if there are positions available in the state. Additional requirements include being in excellent physical and mental health, including having good vision and hearing.
Formal training for DEA recruits takes place at the DEA Academy in Quantico, Virginia. Recruits are also trained at the FBI Academy on the same grounds where they receive their firearms, driving, and physical training.
Addressing the Drug Problem in Kentucky
The amount of drug use and trafficking in Kentucky has reached epidemic proportions. In 1998, the federal government formed the Appalachian HIDTA (High Intensity Drug Trafficking Area) to combat the widespread growth and sale of marijuana in the region. Local authorities lacked the resources to adequately fight this trend. The involvement of the DEA and other federal agencies in the HIDTA has helped to provide resources to fight drug trafficking in Kentucky.
Marijuana – Kentucky has a climate that is highly suited to the cultivation of pot, along with having a number of rural and inaccessible areas that traffickers utilize to produce their crops. In particular, the Daniel Boone National Forest has been a prime location to produce pot.
In 1999, the value of pot plants eradicated by authorities was $9 million greater than the value of tobacco, the number one legal cash crop in Kentucky. The high quality pot produced in Kentucky is exported to other states, including New York, Ohio, California, and Illinois. DEA efforts have helped to reduce the amount of pot cultivation, leading some traffickers to switch to other types of drugs.
Prescription Pain Medication – Kentucky is experiencing an epidemic of prescription drug abuse, particularly with the opiate drug oxycodone. The rate of treatment admissions for opiods increased 900% in the period from 1999 to 2008. In 2010, about 50% more Kentucky residents were treated for an addition to opiates other than heroin than for addiction to pot. In most states, addiction to pot is the primary reason that addicts seek treatment.
Addicts of prescription drugs obtain the pills in a variety of ways in Kentucky. Doctor shopping and prescription fraud are common in the state. Also, oxycodone is frequently smuggled into Kentucky from pain clinics in South Florida. The ready available ability of these drugs in the state has led to an increase in local corruption, including the sale of votes for drugs. The DEA has been working intensively to intercept such shipments and dismantle these drug trafficking organizations.
Methamphetamine – Methamphetamine abuse is a problem in rural Kentucky, where traffickers have been finding it safer to smuggle in meth than to risk being caught cultivating pot. In addition, Kentucky residents have been manufacturing more of the substance. The number of meth lab seizures increased 138% from 2007 to 2009. Law enforcement authorities are concerned about this trend, since meth sale and use tends to greatly increase the amount of local crime.
Drug Interdictions by DEA Agents in Kentucky
Kentucky’s geography and demographics make it an attractive state for drug cultivation and trafficking operations. The state is highly rural with a lot of rugged terrain, making it easy to cultivate marijuana. Also, Kentucky is located near several large population areas of the U.S. This makes it easy to both export and import drugs into the state. In addition to fighting large-scale marijuana trafficking, the DEA has been spearheading efforts to shut down prescription drug mills and imports into the state. DEA careers have led to a number of high profile busts in Kentucky.
- In February 2013, officials arrested 24 people for trafficking over $1.8 million of oxycodone in Campbell and Kenton counties, as well as in the Cincinnati area. The two year investigation was conducted by the DEA, along with other members of the Organized Crime Drug Enforcement Task Force (OCDETF).
- A federal indictment for trafficking illegal prescription drugs was unsealed in January 2013. It accused the owner of a pain clinic of conspiring to distribute oxycodone and launder the proceeds from 2010 through January 2013. The DEA and IRS, along with Kentucky State Police and the Kentucky Attorney General’s Office investigated this case.
- In September 2012, DEA officials announced the arrest of a Michigan doctor, along with two of his patients, for smuggling oxycodone into Pike County. Local dealers in Kentucky were also arrested over the course of the investigation. These efforts were spearheaded by Operation UNITE, which included DEA agents of the London office along with IRS, Michigan, and Kentucky officials.
- In February 2012, Operation Untouchable resulted in the arrest of almost 30 people for their involvement in trafficking pain medication from pharmacies in South Florida to Kentucky. DEA agents, along with U.S. Marshals, and deputy sheriffs from Kentucky and Florida, found that the group transported nearly a million dollars worth of pain medication over the 13 month period of their investigation.