Special agents working out of the DEA’s Missoula Post of Duty are stopping or slowing the flow and abuse of drugs throughout the region on several fronts. First there are local suppliers of illegal drugs; some have taken the Garden City motto to heart and begun the cultivation of marijuana. Others prefer to manufacture the more noxious and addictive methamphetamine, and still others prefer the nation’s trending form of drug abuse: prescription medications. In some good news, federal agents have noted that domestic meth production levels are declining, but these are only to have been replaced by Mexican ice methamphetamine, leading to DEA agents in Missoula’s second challenge: drug trafficking.
Recent DEA Operations in Missoula
In a recent case involving a man who owned a medical marijuana dispensary that was raided by federal agents, the DEA testified that the defendant was actually in violation of several drug laws. Agents raided the dispensary after tapping the defendant’s phone and setting up cameras to monitor his business. The wiretap found the owner of the dispensary was making phone calls to known drug dealers under DEA investigation. Marijuana is the most widely abused drug throughout the State of Montana. In 2010 law enforcement authorities raided a total of 15 marijuana grow sites in the state.
DEA agents in Missoula recently raided the home of a university student they suspected of having robbed three pharmacies. The DEA identifies prescription drug abuse as the fastest growing drug problem across the nation, and in the raid on the young Missoulan’s home agents discovered clothes matching the description of the robber and around 10,000 prescription pills. Later during the man’s trial he sobbed as he recounted how prescription drug abuse had taken over his life.
Local and Federal Cooperation
DEA agents work closely with the Missoula Police Department in the High Intensity Drug Trafficking Area (HIDTA) Task Force to interdict drug shipments passing through the region. Missoula is bisected by I-90, a major route linking the East and West coasts of the United States, and identified by the Office of National Drug Control Policy as a major drug trafficking route. Collaboration with other local, state, and federal law enforcement agencies is typical for the DEA, which is constantly evaluating the most efficient ways of keeping drugs off Missoula’s streets.
Careers and Jobs with the DEA
The process of how to become a DEA agent involves first meeting some basic requirements, applying, and proceeding competitively through the application process, at which point a prospective agent may be chosen for hire and additional training. The DEA requires all applicants to either have previous specialized training and experience or a college education, meeting at least one of these requirements:
- Bachelor’s degree with at least a 2.95 grade point average
- M.A., LL.B., or J.D. degree
- A B.A. with at least three years of experience and coursework in a strategic area:
- Information technology
- Maritime or pilot’s license
- Foreign languages
- Previous drug/law enforcement including in the areas of
- Collection and preparation of evidence to be presented in a courtroom
- Arrest and pursuit of suspects
- Undercover and surveillance operations
Education for the Future
There are six public universities, three private colleges, one tribal college, and several online institutions located across Montana offering at least bachelor’s degrees in strategic areas. Early planning for jobs and careers with the DEA helps prospective agents obtain their future career goals.