Working With His Wife to Dismantle Drug-Peddling Prison Gang
This is the fourth installment in a series of profiles featuring DEA special agents, diversion investigators, chemists, and more. Learn about the tough but fulfilling, fascinating, and vital work these DEA personnel do, as well as the many different ways to get involved in fighting drug misuse.
For our fourth profile, we will be interviewing Special Agent Ben.
What motivated you to join the DEA?
I started out in law enforcement at the local level which was a step towards my desire to serve my community and make a difference. It was while I was working as a Narcotics Detective for the Scottsdale Police Department that I received an assignment to work in the Phoenix DEA office as a Task Force Officer (TFO) that an entire world of opportunity opened up to me. Making drug cases at the local level and getting to arrest those peddling poison to people in the community was rewarding, but getting the opportunity through DEA to take investigations all the way up to the major distributors, both in the United States and abroad was a game changer. I knew at that moment that through a career at DEA, I could go beyond helping the local community and have the ability to work investigations that could have an impact across the United States.
What does an average day as a Special Agent look like for you?
Several years back, I chose to move into a supervisory position in DEA in order to mentor and lead the next generation of DEA agents. As part of our career progression and preparation for higher leadership, we are required to complete a tour at DEA Headquarters. I am currently assigned as an Executive Assistant (EA) to the DEA Chief of Operations. The Chief of Operations oversees DEA enforcement actions and investigations throughout the United States and all across the world. My average day as an EA involves providing the Chief of Operations situational awareness on important issues that might rise to the level of the DEA Administrator and to help answer taskings that come down from the Administrator or outside DEA, such as from the Department of Justice, Congress, and the White House. I also assist the Chief of Operations with making sure that DEA Headquarters is responsive to the needs of the agents in the field doing the hard, day-to-day work.
What has been your proudest moment as a Special Agent thus far?
My wife is a Special Agent with the FBI and my proudest moment as a Special Agent was getting the opportunity to work with my wife and the FBI in a joint DEA/FBI investigation that dismantled a violent white supremacist prison gang that was involved in distributing methamphetamine and firearms. The investigation was one of many in my career that showed that close cooperation and support with our fellow law enforcement partners at the local, state, and federal level can lead to dramatic results.
How can young people who wish to become a Special Agent best prepare themselves for the job?
As a Special Agent, we take an oath to defend the Constitution and uphold the nation’s laws. This means that for those interested in becoming a Special Agent, even before you take the oath of office, your life and your integrity have to be at the highest standards. Also, the job of a DEA Special Agent is one where you will be tested on a daily basis to go above and beyond – so seek out challenges for yourself, whether that be through academics, sports, or giving back to your community. The more you push and challenge yourself, the better equipped you will be to take on the responsibility of a DEA Special Agent.
The synthetic opioid fentanyl – often mixed into other drugs – is now responsible for tens of thousands of American deaths per year. How has the fentanyl epidemic changed your job?
The fentanyl epidemic has drastically changed the job of a DEA agent by increasing the urgency of our investigations. When we investigate drug organizations, we are always concerned about mitigating risks to the public, such as when we develop information that a drug target is going to commit a violent crime. In these situations, we act immediately and in coordination with our law enforcement partners to attempt to prevent violent crime. With the lethality of fentanyl, we now must be aware of potential risks to the public for the time it takes to conduct a thorough investigation. The goal of DEA investigations is to collect the evidence which leads to convictions and ultimately incarceration for those peddling poison, but sometimes we must weigh the risks posed by even a small amount of fentanyl reaching the streets of our communities and take action.
Aug. 1 Profile: Meet Special Agent Dave
Aug. 17 Profile: From Searching Tunnels to Undercover at a Rave...
Aug. 31 Profile: Fighting the Jalisco Cartel as an Intelligence Analyst