New Mexico has had long-term problems with drugs being shipped from Mexico into the U.S. across the state’s nearly 150 miles of border with Mexico. The drug trade also results in both weapons and cash moving from the U.S. into Mexico across the New Mexico border. In 2013, New Mexico was one of the top five states that served as a source for weapons smuggling into Mexico from the U.S.
Through its Counter-Proliferation Investigations Program, the Immigrations and Customs Enforcement (ICE) agency takes the lead in investigating international smuggling, including the movement of weaponry into Mexico from the U.S.
In addition, ICE has partnered with the Customs and Border Protection (CBP) agency and other law enforcement agencies to create a Border Enforcement Security Task Force (BEST) along the Southwestern border. As a result of this task force, ICE agents are highly active in disrupting international criminal conspiracies in New Mexico.
Requirements for Becoming an ICE Agent in New Mexico
Basic Requirements – Residents of New Mexico who seek careers as special agents with Immigration and Customs Enforcement must meet a number of key requirements. All applicants must be US citizens.
Having experience from one of the following career fields can help candidates satisfy certain requirements:
- Law enforcement/Criminal investigator
- May be exempt from part of the educational requirement
- Military veterans
- May be exempt from the requirement to be younger than 37
Education Requirements – Applicants must have one of the following educational backgrounds:
- A year of graduate study
- A bachelor’s degree with a mark of distinction
Those who meet one of several standards for their undergraduate education do not need to have attended graduate school. This includes having a B+ in courses for the major or a B for all courses (for all four years or the final two).
Additional honors that count towards a mark of distinction in the bachelor’s program include:
- Election to a national honor society
- A rank in the top third of their class
Training Requirements – Recruits who have been thoroughly screened and passed their background check undergo 22 weeks of training. They are sent to the Federal Law Enforcement Center in Georgia to learn how to become ICE agents. Their education ranges from taking academic coursework to firearms training to physical conditioning. New agents are highly prepared when they start their jobs in the field.
ICE Activities in New Mexico
The activities of ICE agents in New Mexico have led to a number of convictions for various crimes committed in the state. Prominent cases from the latter half of 2013 are shown below.
Drug Convictions – CBP agents intercepted a shipment of nearly 7,000 pounds of marijuana being brought into New Mexico over the border. Eight Mexican nationals were arrested in March 2013 as the result of a joint investigation between ICE and CBP agents.
A number of methamphetamine traffickers are behind bars due to the efforts of ICE agents in New Mexico. In one case alone, a Farmington man received a 17 year federal sentence for possessing over 200 grams of the drug with an intent to distribute it. He also possessed a 9 mm semi-automatic pistol.
Child Pornography Convictions – Using a combination of high-powered forensic computer analysis and traditional detection techniques, ICE agents were able to identify a number of child pornographers operating in New Mexico and bring them to justice. Some of those who pled guilty included:
- A former Missouri police officer
- A US Marine reservist
- A prior sex offender
- A convicted child rapist
Convictions for Harboring Illegal Aliens – ICE agents found that the owners of Chinese restaurants in Rio Rancho and Santa Fe were harboring illegal aliens to work in their businesses. They face ten year maximum prison sentences.