The Drug Enforcement Agency (DEA) investigates drug trafficking throughout the Gulf Coast from the New Orleans Division of the agency. Task forces operate out of every major city in Louisiana.
Drug trafficking organizations have long been drawn to Louisiana because of the state’s geography and location. Located between the southwestern border and the East Coast, with intersecting highways, waterways, and deepwater ports, the state is a prime target for smugglers who ship cocaine, methamphetamine, and marijuana into and out of Louisiana. Intercepting these shipments is a major goal of those with DEA careers in Louisiana.
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The long term problem of drug trafficking in Louisiana has gotten worse since Hurricane Katrina. A number of drug dealers from New Orleans relocated to Houston after the storm, where they solidified their connections with national and Mexican drug trafficking organizations. This has resulted in an uptick in violence as the dealers returned to Louisiana and fought for their turf. DEA agents have made a number of high profile busts in the state as they aggressively work to counteract the persistent trend of drug trafficking in Louisiana.
- Charges were brought against 15 people in February 2013 for their role in a cocaine and methamphetamine distribution ring that operated in the Mansfield area. This was the result of a year-long undercover investigation by the DEA, FBI, and county and local authorities as part of Operation Limpiar Casa, an initiative by the Organized Crime Drug Enforcement Task Force (OCDETF).
- After a year-long investigation into methamphetamine trafficking in Sabine Parish, 44 people were arrested on drug charges in October 2012. This was the result of a joint effort by the DEA and a number of other law enforcement agencies.
- Investigation by a DEA task force in New Orleans led to the August 2012 conviction of four people for diverting at least $4 million of prescription drugs to be sold illegally.
What it Takes to Become a DEA Agent in Louisiana
There are a number of different ways to become a DEA agent in Louisiana. People seeking jobs with the DEA frequently already have law enforcement experience fighting drug trafficking. Another way to become an agent is to get a college degree. A J.D, LL.B., or Master’s – or a bachelor’s degree with a 2.95 average GPA will qualify applicants to apply. The GPA qualification is waived for bachelor’s degree holders with three years of experience in the military, speaking one of a number of foreign languages, or who have accounting, maritime, or aircraft piloting experience.
Louisiana residents who want to learn how to become a DEA agent should contact the New Orleans Division of the agency to see if there are positions available in the state. Applicants must meet the requirements of being in excellent physical and mental health with good vision and hearing.
DEA recruits have their formal academic training at the DEA Academy in Quantico, Virginia. They are also trained in practical areas such as using firearms, driving in pursuit, and getting in excellent physical shape at the FBI Academy on the same grounds.
Addressing the Drug Problem in Louisiana
To fight the persistent trend of drug trafficking in Louisiana and other gulf states, the federal government formed the Gulf Coast HIDTA (High Intensity Drug Trafficking Area) in 1996. This has helped to coordinate efforts between the DEA and other federal agencies with state and local authorities.
Task forces with this HIDTA interrupted over 80 drug smuggling operations in Louisiana in 2010 alone. The location of the Gulf Coast wire intercept facility in Metairie has greatly helped those fighting drug trafficking throughout the region.
Cocaine – Both powdered and crack cocaine are used widely and distributed in Louisiana. This has contributed to a climate of violence in the state, particularly in New Orleans, which has one of the highest murder rates in the U.S. DEA jobs involved intercepting cocaine that is transported from Houston to New Orleans, frequently in vehicles traveling on I-10. Agents have found the amount of cocaine in shipments has increased substantially since Hurricane Katrina.
Marijuana – Marijuana is the most common drug of choice for illicit drug users in Louisiana. Most of the drug has been smuggled into Texas from Mexico and then transported into the state. Pot is also grown locally in Louisiana, and there is a trend for dealers to use cheap Mexican pot to bulk up what they are selling to make a higher profit.
Methamphetamine – Meth is both imported from Mexico and made locally in Louisiana. The number of meth labs that were seized in Louisiana increased by 74% from 2007 to 2009. Law authorities are concerned about increasing meth use, particularly in northern Louisiana, because of the violence associated with the use and distribution of this drug. Thefts of anhydrous ammonia to make the drug are another trend in Louisiana that concerns authorities.