The Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) has a Division Office located in St. Louis that oversees its operations in the Midwest. DEA agents in St. Louis work closely with a large number of state and local law enforcement agencies.
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The central location of St. Louis and its converging interstate highways makes the city a major distribution hub for drugs from the Southwest and southern California destined for the Midwest and beyond. In addition, the city is a major consumer market for illicit drugs.
Major DEA Busts in St. Louis
DEA agents in St. Louis have made some busts that interrupted national and international drug traffickers operating in the city.
- A Texas couple received lengthy sentences in January 2013 for operating an international trafficking organization that brought cocaine from Mexico to various points in the US. Members of the organization brought the drugs from Houston to St. Louis to be distributed by gang members.
- The DEA agent in charge of the St. Louis Division spearheaded an aggressive crackdown on heroin dealers in Missouri and Illinois. Over two dozen agencies were involved in arresting approximately 100 dealers in this June 2011 operation that was centered in St. Louis.
- In June 2010, the DEA intercepted members of an interstate trafficking ring that had been transporting marijuana from Arizona to St. Louis for four years. The organization was thought to have brought 1,000 kilograms of marijuana into the city using rental vehicles.
What it Takes to Become a DEA Agent in St. Louis
People who seek careers with the DEA do so from a number of different backgrounds. One way is to be a law enforcement official who investigates drug conspiracies. Another is to obtain a secondary degree such as an LL.B., J.D., Master’s, or a Bachelor’s with a 2.95 GPA. The GPA requirement is waived for applicants with three or more years of experience in the military or being an accountant, information technologist, engineer, fluent in a particular foreign language, or a ship or aircraft pilot.
Residents of St. Louis who want to learn how to become a DEA agent should contact the Division Office to find out if jobs are available in the city. Additional requirements include being in excellent physical and mental health and having good hearing and vision.
Recruits pursue their formal studies at the DEA Academy in Quantico, Virginia. They receive additional training at the FBI Academy, located on the same grounds. The latter academy is the site of firearms, driving, and physical conditioning training.
Addressing the Drug Problem in St. Louis
The use of St. Louis as a distribution hub for illicit drugs led the federal government to include St. Louis County and counties nearby as part of its Midwest HIDTA (High Intensity Drug Trafficking Area) designation created in 1998.
Heroin – The abuse of heroin has been an increasing problem in St. Louis in recent years, particularly among young adults. The number of overdose deaths in St. Louis County attributed to the drug dramatically increased from 2010 to 2011. Authorities think that they are underestimating the number of deaths from heroin, since the cause of death listed for drug overdoses frequently does not specify the particular drug responsible.
A highly pure form of heroin has become readily available in St. Louis. It is concentrated enough that it can be smoked or snorted rather than injected. This is leading to an increase in heroin abuse in St. Louis as users that are not injecting the drug frequently perceive themselves as recreational users and are more likely to try using heroin.
Methamphetamine – Meth had been less common in St. Louis than in other parts of Missouri, but law enforcement officials report finding increasing amounts of the drug in this city. Given the attendant violence associated with the sale and use of this drug, local authorities are concerned about this trend.
Marijuana – St. Louis is a transshipment point for bulk quantities of pot from Mexico and from Jamaica. In addition, the area has high rates of the abuse of pot, which is the drug of choice for teenagers.
Cocaine – Traffickers bring cocaine into St. Louis from Brownsville and Houston. In particular, crack distribution is a major problem in St. Louis.