Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) agents are highly active in Alabama. As a Gulf state, Alabama is vulnerable to influxes of illegal immigrants and those who would smuggle drugs and other contraband into the US from Mexico. As recently as 2011, estimates place the number of illegal immigrants in Alabama at 120,000. This number has since diminished some since HB 56 passed.
Alabama has a history of drug smuggling and money laundering by Mexican, Caribbean, and Columbian drug trafficking organizations. As recently as November 2013, $2 million worth of cocaine and heroin was seized from a single drug mule traveling through Alabama towards Florida.
Becoming an ICE agent in Alabama
The agency has rigorous educational requirements in place for those interested in applying to become a special agent. To qualify for the GL-7 position, the minimum required for special agents, applicants must either have a year of graduate study or have met one of several performance standards for their bachelor’s degree. These include the following:
- Having the following undergraduate GPA:
- A B in all completed courses or those in the last two years of study
- A B+ in all courses required for a major overall or in the last two years
- Ranking in the top third of the college class
- Having been elected to a national scholastic honor society
Having a background in criminal investigations or law enforcement can also help applicants qualify to become special agents.
In addition, applicants must be US citizens and complete a full background check. They must be younger than 37, although this requirement can be waived for veterans. Once these requirements have been met, the next step is to apply for ICE jobs in Alabama as they are posted at the federal job website.
Special Agent Training
After a rigorous selection process, recruits prepare for their careers by undergoing 22 weeks of paid training at the Federal Law Enforcement Training Center that is located in Brunswick, Georgia. In addition to academic training, special agents must also:
- Qualify with firearms
- Undergo regular physical examinations
- Undergo random drug testing
Applicants interested in becoming ICE agents that serve as criminal investigators in Alabama are encouraged to contact the nearest office of the Special Agent in Charge (SAC) and ask to speak to the regional recruitment coordinator. For residents of Alabama, this would be the New Orleans office. It can be reached at 504-310-8800.
ICE Partnerships in Alabama
To succeed against large scale criminal conspiracies, ICE special agents frequently work in partnership with local and other federal authorities. These efforts have been highly successful in Alabama.
In 2011, ICE issued its Homeland Security Investigations (HSI) Exemplary Partnership award to a law enforcement committee in the state. It commended the efforts of the Southern District of Alabama’s Law Enforcement Coordinating Committee (LECC).
This group of over 700 law enforcement officials was pivotal in establishing the Border Enforcement Security Taskforce (BEST) in Mobile. One investigation of BEST alone resulted in the seizure of over $636,000 destined for money laundering in Texas.
Disrupting Criminal Conspiracies in Alabama
ICE special agents, known as criminal investigators, have jobs in Alabama carrying out the mission of the Department of Homeland Security (DHS). They work out of offices in Birmingham and Mobile under the direction of the Regional Office in New Orleans.
Their work in improving the homeland security of the US ranges from tracking down fugitives who are criminal aliens to disrupting large scale conspiracies such as the sale of counterfeit goods in Alabama stores and flea markets.
Seizing Drugs and Money. Drug trafficking and money laundering pose an immediate threat to US security, and ICE agents have been involved in some high profile seizures in Alabama:
- $387,000 from a bus passing through Cuba, Alabama, destined for Mexico in December 2013
- $636,000 from a vehicle near Mobile destined to be laundered in Texas
Intercepting the Sale of Counterfeit Goods. Despite the frequent perception of the sale of counterfeit items as a victim-less crime, the proceeds frequently feed back to international criminal enterprises involved in money laundering, drug trafficking, and potentially, even terrorism. ICE agents were part of the investigation that resulted in the following seizures of counterfeit goods being sold in Alabama:
- 60,000 items worth $2 million from a Wetumpka flea market in 2013
- Trafficking of counterfeit Super Bowl XL VII tickets in 2013
- $425,000 worth of counterfeit goods from a Birmingham flea market in 2012
Protecting Minors from Sexual Predators. The advent of the Internet has facilitated the exploitation of minors, and ICE agents are involved in stopping this type of illegal activity. An Alabama man was sentenced to over ten years in federal prison in 2013 for pursuing sexual activity with what he thought was a 12 year boy over the Internet.