Florida has the third highest population of illegal immigrants in the country. Even with a substantial decrease in their numbers since 2007, the illegal immigrant population was estimated to be 825,000 in 2010. ICE (Immigration and Customs Enforcement) agents fight human traffickers in Florida who would add to these numbers, and work diligently with local authorities to disrupt the activities of criminal aliens.
ICE agents in Florida are also on the front line in the fight against drug trafficking. Florida’s 1,350 miles of coastline help to make the state vulnerable to drug traffickers from the Caribbean. Miami’s port alone handled over 6.8 million tons of cargo in fiscal year 2010.
The state has a very well developed transportation infrastructure with a number of interstates and airports. Miami International Airport is one of the busiest in the world. Drug traffickers frequently exploit this infrastructure, bringing drugs in by boat or in the bellies of air passengers serving as mules. In addition, there is a trend towards shipping marijuana and cocaine into the state through the mail and commercial carriers.
Florida is also the source of drugs for the rest of the country. The state has high levels of prescription drug abuse, and such drugs are frequently exported to other areas of the East Coast. Hydroponic marijuana production is at high levels throughout the state, and hundreds of grow sites have been eradicated in recent years.
Preparing to Become an ICE Agent in Florida
Degree Requirements – ICE requires that applicants for special agent jobs in Florida complete a year of graduate school unless they can show a high level of achievement for their bachelor’s education (a B+ for courses in the major, a B or all courses taken, having been elected to a national honor society, being in the top third of the class).
Experience and General Requirements – Experience can substitute for part of this education requirement if the applicant has a background in law enforcement or criminal investigations. Additional requirements include:
- Being a U.S. citizen
- Being younger than 37, although this can be waived for veterans
Application Process – Applicants who have met the requirements can apply when openings for ICE criminal investigator jobs are available in Florida and posted on the USA Jobs website. Once the applicants have been thoroughly screened and investigated by a background check, those who are hired undergo a substantial amount of training.
Training – Recruits are trained for 22 weeks at the Federal Law Enforcement Center in Georgia. In addition to taking academic classes, they are also trained in the use of firearms and are brought into top physical condition.
Local Field Office Contact – Florida residents who want to learn more about how to become an ICE agent in the state are encouraged to contact the ICE Field Office for their area and speak to the Special Agent in Charge (SAC). For Florida, the Miami Field Office can be reached at 305-597-6000.
The Activities of ICE Agents in Florida
With the large array of criminal conspiracies that take place in Florida, ICE agents are very active in the state trying to stop these endeavors. There are two ICE Field Intelligence Groups in Florida:
- FIG Miami
- FIG Tampa
Money Laundering – With the large quantities of cash generated from the sale of illicit drugs in Florida, billions of dollars are processed through money laundering in the state. In one case alone in June 2013, four people were arrested and charged with $1.5 million in bank fraud and money laundering. ICE agents were involved with the IRS and state and local authorities in this investigation.
Child Exploitation – ICE agents that work in this area have a very high level of training in computer forensics and have been able to rescue a number of children from sexual exploitation. In December 2013 alone, ICE activities resulted in arrests or sentencing in seven different Florida cases that involved child pornography or other sex offenses involving children.
Sex Trafficking – Agents from ICE frequently work collaboratively with other law enforcement agencies and sometimes with foreign police agencies to bring sex traffickers to justice. As a result of an ICE investigation that traversed national boundaries, a Jamaican man was arrested in New York and charged in Miami in December 2013 for sex trafficking in the US and Australia, as well as transporting people for prostitution in the US.
This case followed closely on the heels of another one from 2013 that resulted in the conviction of a Florida man for sex trafficking in which he kept his victims heavily drugged. ICE agents worked closely with local law enforcement officials to disrupt this scheme. In addition, the individual was also convicted for distributing drugs and was found to possess thousands of prescription pills.
Drug Trafficking – In one of a number of cases from 2013, ICE agents worked with other members of an Organized Crime Drug Enforcement Task Force and members of the Panama Express Strike Force to disrupt an international drug trafficking conspiracy. Two men from Guyana were identified trying to bring cocaine into Florida on a fishing vessel. A federal jury found them guilty in November 2013.