With several regions recognized as high intensity drug trafficking areas in the state, Arizona sees more than its fair share of illegal smugglers, who often protect their illicit trade with firearms. It is the mission of the ATF to take down the most violent armed criminals.
ATF agents in Arizona see some of the highest machine gun seizure rates in the country. In fact, last year alone, ATF agents in Arizona were responsible for confiscating 31 machine guns. When it comes to gun crime, the ATF plays an instrumental role in prevention. Still, there were 230 homicides and 559 aggravated assaults involving firearms throughout the state last year.
To provide strategic coverage statewide, the ATF maintains four offices with locations at:
- 201 East Washington Street in Phoenix
- 2255 West Ina Road in Tucson
- 345 River Run in Flagstaff
- 2270 South Ridgeview Drive in Yuma
Meeting Requirements to Become an ATF Agent
Those interested in pursuing ATF careers can start by learning about the qualifications they will need to meet in order to make a successful bid. Having a bachelor’s degree in any of the following subjects is a good start:
- Criminal Justice
- Political Science
- Crime Scene Investigation
- Forensic Science
- Law Enforcement
A bachelor’s degree in any subject fulfills the minimum requirement for education, although this can be substituted for three years of criminal investigative experience.
Candidates who have a four-year degree in the above named subject areas along with a good academic record will be eligible to enter at a higher pay grade and rank.
Other minimum requirements for ATF jobs include:
- The ability to obtain a top secret clearance
- Being between the ages of 21-36, with additional consideration for veterans and federal law enforcement officers
- Having US citizenship and a valid driver’s license
- Being in good physical condition
Coming from a background in criminal justice or crime scene investigation will make the transition to ATF training all the more seamless. These subject areas are covered in-depth throughout the 27 weeks of training new agents will complete before they begin their first assignment. The training for ATF careers is divided over two courses:
- 12-week Criminal Investigators Training Program
- 15-week Special Agent Basic Training
ATF Action in Arizona
One recent joint operation conducted by the ATF, DCIS (Defense Criminal Investigative Service), and the DEA had all the hallmarks of a Hollywood movie. Two weapons brokers from the Sinaloa drug cartel were recently arrested at an undisclosed Arizona location in the culmination of an undercover operation as they arrived at a predetermined meeting place where the deal was supposed to have gone down.
The two suspects arrived with 11 pounds of methamphetamine and over a hundred thousand dollars in cash, expecting to receive machine guns and boxes of grenades as well as anti-tank and anti-aircraft weapons.
Other recent ATF investigations in Arizona have focused on a string of bombings:
- Three improvised explosive devises rigged to detonate inside flashlights left around Phoenix when unsuspecting victims pressed the power button.
- A Glendale home that was bombed for the third time recently, involving an IED placed between two vehicles on the property before being detonated.
- The bombing of a Scottsdale municipal office involving an explosive device disguised as a parcel that detonated upon being opened.