Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) agents are active in Rapid City, working out of a Post of Duty located there. DEA agents serving out of this Post of Duty are part of the multi-agency Unified Narcotics Enforcement Team (UNET) that operates in Rapid City and throughout Pennington County.
Rapid City’s location along Interstate 90 in the western part of South Dakota makes it relatively straightforward for traffickers to bring drugs into the city from Denver and parts of the West Coast. Mexican drug trafficking organizations import illicit drugs across the southwestern border and then ship them to Rapid City from San Diego, San Francisco, and Phoenix. DEA agents in Rapid City have been working closely with other agencies to intercept the shipment of illicit drugs into the city and have been responsible for a number of busts.
- A traffic stop in Rapid City in February 2013 led the police officers to call in the United Narcotics Enforcement Team, which contains agents of the DEA. This led to the arrest of three people who were trafficking in methamphetamine and marijuana.
- As a result of a DEA investigation, a Rapid City man pled guilty in June 2011 to charges of supplying marijuana to the Rapid City and Sioux Falls areas. A traffic stop led authorities to this trafficking operation.
Becoming a DEA Agent in Rapid City
Individuals who wish to join the DEA can become qualified through a number of different backgrounds. Having prior experience in drug investigations is one way. Another is to obtain a degree such as a J.D., LL. B., Master’s, or a Bachelor’s degree with a 2.95 GPA. The latter requirement is waived for applicants who have three or more years experience as a ship or airline pilot, accountant, information technologist, engineer, military service, or being fluent in any one of a number of types of languages.
Rapid City residents who are interested in learning how to become a DEA agent should contact the St. Louis Division of the agency to find out if jobs are available in Rapid City. Being in excellent mental and physical health are additional requirements to become a DEA agent. This includes having good hearing and vision.
Recruits obtain their formal training in Quantico, Virginia. Both the DEA and FBI Academies are located there. Trainees pursue their academic coursework at the DEA Academy, while they learn more practical skills at the FBI Academy. This includes becoming proficient with firearms, pursuit and defensive driving, and becoming in excellent physical condition.
Addressing the Drug Problem in Rapid City
The trafficking and abuse of illicit drugs in Rapid City has been an ongoing problem, leading the federal government to designate Pennington County as part of the Midwest HIDTA (High Intensity Drug Trafficking Area) in 1998.
Marijuana – Mexican traffickers bring hundreds of pounds of pot into Rapid City. In addition, there has been a trend towards growing the plant in large indoor operations. The abuse of pot is the primary reason for people to seek treatment for drug abuse in South Dakota, and Rapid City high school and college students are smoking pot in record numbers.
Methamphetamine – The increasing use of meth is of grave concern to law enforcement officials throughout the Midwest. Mexican ice has been the main form of meth in Rapid City, but more recently, locals have been manufacturing powder meth using the highly dangerous one-pot method.