Illinois has a very well developed transportation infrastructure. Chicago is one of the country’s largest centers for trucking, and six interstate highways pass through the metropolitan area. In addition to facilitating legitimate interstate commerce, these routes are used by drug traffickers to bring large quantities of drugs into the area.
ICE (Immigration and Customs Enforcement) agents fight this illegal activity, along with a number of other federal crimes ranging from terrorism to child exploitation. These agents are also involved in high profile anti-gang efforts. Chicago alone is estimated to have approximately 71 street gangs with a membership of 100,000. They carry out most of the retail drug distribution in the area. These gangs are becoming increasingly sophisticated, including using GPS devices on their drug delivery vehicles.
What it Takes to Become an ICE Agent in Illinois
Required Education – Although ICE offers many types of jobs in Illinois, one of the most sought after is that of a criminal investigator, or special agent. The agency has strict educational requirements to be able to apply for this position. Applicants are required to have either completed a year of graduate school or to have one of the following measures of distinction for their bachelor’s degree:
- A B in all of their coursework (either four years or for the final two years)
- A B+ in the coursework for their major (either four years or for the final two years)
- A ranking in the top third of their class
- Election to a national honor society
Experience General Requirements – Experience can substitute for part of this requirement. A number of applicants for ICE special agent positions already have a background in law enforcement or criminal investigations. This can help to meet the educational requirement. Applicants must also meet the following standards:
- Be a U.S. citizen
- Be younger than 37 (This can be waived for veterans.)
How to Apply To apply for positions with ICE, applicants need to monitor the official site for US government jobs until special agent positions are posted. Applicants are rigorously screened and are put through a full background check.
Getting Trained – Those who are hired start their careers with ICE by training for 22 weeks at the Federal Law Enforcement Center (FELC) in Georgia. This entails a combination of academic and physical activities, along with training in the use of firearms.
Illinois residents who want to learn more about how to become a special agent should contact the Special Agent in Charge (SAC) for their region. This involves calling the Chicago Field Office at 312-347-2400.
ICE Successes in Illinois
Special agents of ICE have carried out a large number of successful operations in Illinois in recent years. Some of these 2013 operations are shown below.
Stopping the Flow of Potential Weapons of Mass Destruction – In a case of international significance, ICE agents worked with the FBI and the Department of Commerce to arrest a Chicago resident for his role in conspiring to violate US laws on thwarting the proliferation of weapons of mass destruction (WMD). In conjunction with his Taiwanese father, this individual was involved in shipping goods to North Korea that could be used to advance their weapons program.
Targeting Gang Members – As part of ICE’s National Gang Unit initiative Operation Community Shield, ICE investigators worked with other law enforcement officials to arrest 18 violent transnational gang members in Chicago. All but one were from Mexico, and they belonged to such violent gangs as the Latin Kings and Sureños 13, among others.
Intercepting Mislabeled Chinese Imports – In two separate cases, honey brokers were sentenced to three years in jail for disguising the origin of Chinese honey that they had imported into Chicago. Between the two cases, these individuals avoided paying nearly $80 million in tariffs. In one case, the honey was adulterated with an antibiotic that is not permitted in US food.
Stopping Child Exploitation – ICE aggressively pursues those who produce and receive child pornography and track it across international borders. In November 2013 alone, two men from Illinois were sentenced to at least 14 years in prison for having received or produced child pornography.