How to Become an ATF Agent in Minnesota

In Minnesota, special agents with the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives (ATF) work out of the three Field Offices located in St. Paul on East Seventh Street.

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ATF special agents use their expertise to track illegal firearms and put violent career criminals behind bars.  In addition, they investigate cases that involve arson or explosives and frequently partner with other law enforcement agencies to disrupt criminal conspiracies.  Agents who investigate arson cases frequently employ trained dogs that specialize in either accelerants or explosives.

ATF Special Agent Job Requirements

Residents of Minnesota who seek careers as ATF special agents face a bevy of requirements to ensure that the agency hires top-notch candidates.  They must meet the basic requirements to become a federal agent such as being a U.S. citizen and being between 21 and 36 years old.  Veterans and law enforcement officials who are older than this may still be able to apply.

Grade Levels for ATF Applicants – Applicants to the ATF can apply at three different grade levels, all of which have different requirements.  They are GL-5, GL-7, and GL-9.

GL-5 applicants must either have a bachelor’s degree or three year’s of experience in law enforcement, doing legal research, or protecting and guarding property.  Applicants for the higher grade levels are required to have either more specialized experience or college degrees in one of the following areas of study:

  • Sociology
  • Political science
  • Psychology
  • Criminal justice

The educational requirements to apply for a GL-7 position include either having a year of graduate school or evidence of superior academic achievement.  GL-9 applicants must possess a J.D, LL.B., or a graduate degree or tow years of graduate study in one of the fields listed above.

Training for ATF Special Agents

The ATF encourages its recruits to have a high level of physical fitness before they start their training.  Each of the two phases of training has a strong component of physical conditioning, while the second phase emphasizes tactical skills.

Agents in training must pass each of their two courses.  In the first course, they learn how to conduct criminal investigations.  This takes place at the Federal Law Enforcement Training Center in Georgia.  ATF recruits train with those from other agencies in the Criminal Investigators Training Program.

Once they have passed their course, they specialize in training for their missions by taking the ATF’s Special Agent Basic Training course.  It involves a mix of basic law enforcement techniques such as conducting interviews with specialized ATF skills such as investigating the following types of cases:

  • Arson, fire, and explosives
  • Firearms Trafficking
  • Alcohol and tobacco diversions

Special agents must be prepared to accept assignment to any part of the country.

ATF Involvement in Minnesota Drug Trafficking Cases

One of the ATF’s primary missions is securing the conviction of armed career criminals such as drug traffickers who use firearms.  In partnership with other law enforcement agencies, ATF agents in Minnesota have helped to solve some high profile drug trafficking cases.

Mexican Cartel Drug Trafficking and Money Laundering – Mexican cartel members are active in Minnesota.  Members of the Gulf Cartel imported large quantities of methamphetamine and cocaine to Minnesota from Mexico during a three-year period ending in 2009.

They also transferred over $3.7 million to accounts to Texas in increments of under $10,000 to try and avoid having to report it to the government.  Over two dozen individuals were indicted in 2009 for their role in this conspiracy with an additional 14 people being charged with conspiring to launder the financial proceeds.

Prescription Pain Killer Trafficking and Money Laundering – The ATF became involved in investigation a drug conspiracy after law enforcement agents detected an increase in the trafficking of the prescription drug known as Opana in Minnesota and Wisconsin in 2010.  Twenty-nine people pled guilty for their role in conspiring to distribute this drug and launder the proceeds from its sale.

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