The District Office of the DEA (Drug Enforcement Administration) for New Mexico is located in Albuquerque. This office is part of the El Paso Division of the agency.
Drug Interdictions by DEA Agents in Albuquerque
Albuquerque is a location for both nationwide drug trafficking and high levels of drug consumption. As the authorities have become more successful at stopping the flow of drugs through Arizona, New Mexico has become a more strategic site for drug shipments to go throughout the country. The highway system is well developed in Albuquerque with I-40 going east and west. I-25 provides provide a direct route from Mexico all the way through Colorado.
DEA agents in Albuquerque focus on a number of different aspects of drug trafficking. Stopping the flow of drugs into and out of Bernadillo County is a high priority, as is targeting the sale of drugs in Albuquerque. One successful strategy that DEA agents have been using to intercept drug shipments is to work with local authorities to monitor trains, buses, and vehicles travelling through the city. Those with careers in the DEA make frequent busts in Albuquerque.
- Text messages from drug dealers targeting University of New Mexico students in Albuquerque led to a bust by DEA agents in April 2013. Ketamine, marijuana, and Ecstasy were all for sale.
- In February 2013, twenty-one traffickers were charged with using false and fraudulent prescription to obtain oxycodone. The arrests are the result of Operation Paper Trail, initiated by the DEA’s Albuquerque Tactical Diversion Squad and the New Mexico Board of Pharmacy.
- An investigation by the Albuquerque office of the DEA led to the November 2012 arrest of an Albuquerque trafficker who had 21 pounds of methamphetamine that he intended to sell. This was the biggest methamphetamine bust in Albuquerque in recent years.
What it Takes to Become a DEA Agent in Albuquerque
Potential DEA agents can pursue a number of career paths to join the agency. One way is to have prior law enforcement experience handling drug investigations. Another way is to pursue a secondary education. A J.D., LL.B., Master’s, or a Bachelor’s degree with a 2.95 average will qualify graduates to apply to the DEA. The GPA requirement is waived for those with at least three years of experience being a ship or airline pilot, engineer, accountant, information technologist, or those who are fluent in any one of a number of languages.
Residents of Albuquerque who want to learn how to become a DEA agent should contact the El Paso Division to find out if there are jobs available in Albuquerque. Additional requirements include being in excellent mental and physical health, including having good hearing and vision.
Recruits undergo their formal training at the DEA Academy in Quantico, Virginia, where they have their coursework. They train for skills such as shooting firearms, driving in pursuit, and maintaining excellent physical condition at the FBI Academy located on the same grounds.
Addressing the Drug Problem in Albuquerque
The types of illicit drug abuse in Albuquerque have fluctuated over the years. Cocaine and meth were the primary problems in earlier years, while the use of heroin and abuse of prescription drugs has greatly increased in recent years. The federal government has long recognized the threat that drug trafficking and consumption pose to Bernadillo County. They assigned this county to the New Mexico HIDTA (High Intensity Drug Trafficking Area) in 1990.
Heroin – Black tar heroin is smuggled into the state from Mexico where it finds a ready market. New Mexico has the highest overdose death rate in the county. In 2006-2008, Bernadillo County had a much higher rate of accidental death from heroin than the rest of New Mexico. The situation has only gotten worse since then, and heroin abuse in Albuquerque has become a topic of grave concern. In 2012, heroin in Albuquerque was as cheap as it was in 1977 with the available drugs tending to be highly pure.
While people of all ages, races, and social classes use the drug, increasing use by high school students has been a particular problem in recent years. Mexican drug cartels target these students, and local dealers oblige them. In 2010, authorities busted a ring of dealers targeting a high school in Northeast Heights.
Prescription Drugs – The amount of prescription drug abuse has exploded in New Mexico in recent years. In 2006, three doses of OxyContin were seized in the New Mexico HIDTA region. By 2008, that number had climbed to 5015. The problem is epidemic with older people, who are thought be primarily taking the drugs for health problems, and with young people.
Teenagers most frequently start taking prescription drugs by taking them from their parents’ medicine cabinets and from relatives. While OxyContin acts like heroin, its use does not have the same social stigma. The abuse of this drug can be deadly, and the rate of death from prescription drugs in the Albuquerque metropolitan area is twice the national average. In addition, prescription drug abuse can serve as a gateway to heroin addiction, since obtaining heroin in Albuquerque is substantially cheaper than buying prescription drugs from traffickers.
Methamphetamine – While the abuse of meth is not as prevalent in Albuquerque as it was in the 1990s, trafficking and use of the drug is still a problem in the city. It is currently cheaper to import the drug than manufacture it locally, although there has been in an increase in the number of meth labs in the region. The use and abuse of meth is associated with a high rate of violence and child abuse.
Marijuana – Large amounts of pot are shipped through Albuquerque, and it is the most commonly abused drug in New Mexico. The proximity of Albuquerque to the Mexican border makes it relatively straightforward to transport pot north to the city.