North Dakota has become a prime location for illegal drug transportation and distribution, due to the major interstates of 29 and 94 that wind through the state. Interstate 94, for example, connects Bismarck, Fargo, Minneapolis, and Chicago. Further, U.S. Highways 83, 85 and 281 provide direct routes between North Dakota and Canada.
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Because of it’s shared border with Canada and 18 authorized land ports of entry – only three of which are staffed 24 hours a day – North Dakota is an important location for DEA operations. Many of the remote roads between North Dakota and Canada go unmanned much of the time, providing drug smugglers with ample opportunity to bring drugs into the state.
The National Drug Intelligence Center has also identified the Native American reservations in North Dakota as a problem. With unemployment rates on Indian reservations averaging about 55 percent, individuals are often willing to engage in illegal drug activities in an effort to support themselves. Further, Mexican criminal groups have been known to call upon members of the Native American population in North Dakota to distribute drugs, both on and off the reservations.
A 2009-2010 survey on drug use and health found that an estimated 5.3 percent of North Dakota residents admitted to illicit drug use. Two-thirds of all admissions in drug treatment centers in North Dakota in 2011 were for marijuana.
The Role of the DEA in North Dakota
The importance of DEA jobs to North Dakota is evident upon viewing the recent headlines involving DEA operations in North Dakota.
For example, in February 2012, the DEA announced that a leader of a large-scale drug trafficking organization, along with seven other individuals, was sentenced to 32 years in prison. The conviction, which was the result of the DEA investigation named “Operation Johnny #1,” was based on the transport of more than ten pounds of methamphetamine from Minnesota to North Dakota.
Operation Johnny #1 was an investigation led by the DEA Fargo resident office, although a number of other state and local agencies assisted in the investigation, including: the North Dakota Bureau of Criminal Investigation; the Minnesota Bureau of Criminal Apprehension; the CEE VI Drug Task Force in Willmar, Minnesota; the Yellow Medicine County, Minnesota Sheriff’s Department; the Yellow Medicine County, Minnesota Attorney’s Office; the West Fargo Police Department; and the Meeker County, Minnesota Attorney’s Office.
In May 2011, the DEA and the Northwest Area Narcotics Task Force announced the arrest and prosecution of a North Dakota man found guilty of distributing a controlled substance (methamphetamine) and of the intent to distribute a controlled substance. The methamphetamine seized had an estimated street value of $100,000.
North Dakota DEA Jobs and Careers:
How to Become a DEA Agent in North Dakota through Training
The Chicago Division (312-353-7875) of the Drug Enforcement Agency (DEA) oversees DEA operations in North Dakota, although this state has a post of duty in Bismarck (701-250-4550) and a resident office in Fargo (701-476-5500).
Individuals seeking North Dakota DEA careers must first understand the minimum employment prerequisites. Most importantly, candidates must have the right combination of college education and experience. Advanced law degrees or a bachelor’s in combination with skills like the ability to speak a foreign language, fly a plane or captain a ship are standard. Beyond that, candidates must be U.S. citizens, and submit to a thorough background investigation, drug testing and psychological assessments.
More information on the recruitment and application process can be obtained by contacting the regional recruiter, Special Agent Keith Williams, at 312-353-7875.