Hawaii offers unique challenges to law enforcement officers with its geography and location between the West Coast and the Pacific Rim. It is the closest point of entry into the US from known centers of terrorism. Also, the heavily transient nature of Hawaii’s population makes it relatively easy for drug traffickers and fugitives from justice to blend in and avoid detection. ICE (Immigration and Customs Enforcement) agents investigate this type of criminal activity in support of national security initiatives.
The state also had an estimated illegal immigration population of 40,000 in 2010. ICE agents investigate companies in Hawaii that hire workers illegally and have helped to deport a number of known alien fugitives. In addition, ICE is involved in the fight against white-collar crime.
Experience, Education and Training for ICE Agents in Hawaii
Although there are many types of positions available with ICE, many individuals seek careers as criminal investigators, also known as special agents. The agency has stringent educational requirements for its special agents. They require applicants to have either a year of graduate study or else to have achieved measurable marks of distinction with their bachelor’s degrees. These include one of the following:
- Being in the top third of their class
- Having a B+ in their major or B in all of their coursework during whole undergraduate education or the final two years
- Having been elected to a national honor society
Experience can substitute for part of this educational requirement, and about a third of all ICE special agents have a background in criminal investigations or law enforcement. Applicants are also required to be younger than 37, although veterans can be exempt from this rule, and to be US citizens.
When applicants meet these requirements, they should monitor the USA Jobs website for ICE postings for positions as special agents. Applicants are thoroughly vetted and are subject to a full background check.
Recruits are highly trained before they start work in the field. This involves studying at the Federal Law Enforcement Center in Georgia. This 22 weeks of paid training involves the following activities:
- Taking academic coursework
- Getting in top notch physical condition
- Becoming proficient in the use of firearms
Hawaii residents who want to learn more about how to become an ICE agent should contact the Special Agent in Charge (SAC) for the state that is based in San Francisco. Their phone number is 808-532-3746.
Immigration and Customs Enforcement at Work in Hawaii
ICE criminal investigators fight a broad array of types of crime in Hawaii. Some of these are listed below.
Drug Trafficking – Hawaii’s need to rely on air and sea shipments of goods from other states and countries has made it vulnerable to large scale drug trafficking. Methamphetamine is considered to be the greatest drug threat to the state. Mexican drug traffickers import the drug from Mexico, California, and Nevada. A two year ICE and DEA investigation led to the dismantling of a Hawaii meth distribution ring in 2011.
As is the case with much of the US, prescription drug abuse is rampant in Hawaii. Sometimes these drugs are obtained fraudulently from doctors. A combined ICE and FDA probe led to a sentence of over 12 years in jail for a former Kauai physician who had illegally dispensed prescription narcotics.
Fraud – The presence of a large number of illegal aliens has led to document fraud as these individuals seek the documentation to be able to work in Hawaii. As the result of an ICE investigation, two individuals were charged with providing phony driver’s licenses to illegal aliens in 2011.
ICE is also involved in the fight against the defrauding of consumers. Both ICE and FBI agents conducted a joint investigation to stop three individuals from conducting a Ponzi scheme from Hawii that cost investors over $1.6 million. They were sentenced in 2012 and forced to pay restitution to their victims.
Criminals Working for the U.S. Military – Part of ICE’s mission is to keep the country’s critical infrastructure secure. In combination with the Air Force, Navy, US Marshals Service, and state and local authorities, ICE agents investigated over 10,000 contractors working at federal military bases in Hawaii. Twenty-four civilians who worked at the Pearl Harbor-Hickam base were arrested on outstanding warrants in 2011.