Nearly 60,000 incidents of crime were reported in Rhode Island in 2012, with 26% of them coming from Providence. Federal law enforcement agents from eight agencies are active in Rhode Island helping to protect the citizens of the state.
Rhode Island’s well developed infrastructure and location between New York City and Boston makes it a frequent target for drug traffickers to transport their goods and distribute them in the state. This is facilitated by the ready access of traffickers who use I-95 to access markets in Providence and Pawtucket. Drug trafficking in Rhode Island involves smugglers from Mexico, the Dominican Republic and Columbia, in addition to local dealers who traffic in items such as prescription drugs and Ecstasy.
Officers from different federal agencies frequently work in tandem with each other and with state and municipal agencies to fight crime in Rhode Island. One example of the power of this approach was the dismantling of the MS-13 gang that operated out of Providence and engaged in large scale trafficking of heroin. $4.5 million worth of heroin was recovered during Operation Gas. This effort involved fourteen law enforcement agencies, including the DEA, FBI, and the ATF.
Careers in Federal Law Enforcement
According the Bureau of Justice Statistics, 135 federal officers had careers in Rhode Island in 2008 that gave them the authority to carry firearms and carry out arrests. A bachelor’s degree is usually required to get jobs with federal law enforcement agencies and join the ranks of these officers. Criminal justice is a frequent topic of study among potential applicants.
Newly hired agents undergo a great deal of training before they are allowed to work in the field. Frequently, this involves travelling to the Washington DC area. For instance, FBI and DEA recruits train in Quantico, VA at the world famous FBI Academy. In addition, DEA agents obtain their academic training at a separate academy located on the same grounds.
Efforts to control the large scale drug trafficking that takes place in Rhode Island are complicated by the ready market for illicit drugs in the state. In 2007-2008, residents of the state who were 12 years old or older had the highest rate of illicit drug use in the country.
As early as 2007, there were 142 deaths from drug use in Rhode Island. In 2013, the number of drug overdose deaths had doubled since 1999. Rhode Island had the 13th highest rate of death from drug overdoses in the country in 2013.
DEA agents in Rhode Island routinely make major arrests in the state. In the year leading up to September 2007, they arrested 135 suspects. Reasons for their arrests range from the distribution of cocaine and heroin to those who traffic in prescription drugs, Ecstasy, and illegal steroids. Recent arrests in Rhode Island have included the following:
- A Providence man who had over 29 pounds of marijuana in his house, along with 32 plants
- The CEO of a Chinese corporation and three distributors who had smuggled illegal growth hormone into the country
- A Providence man who was trying to sell over 2,400 tablets of Ecstasy
Federal Law Enforcement Offices in Rhode Island
Most of the federal law enforcement agencies in Rhode Island are based in Providence, including the following:
- Coast Guard Marine Safety Office
- Resident Agency
- Joint Terrorism Task Force (JTTF) Annex
- Secret Service
- US Marshals
TSA agents work out of Green Airport in Warwick.
Coast Guard stations are located in the following areas:
- Block Island
- Bristol Coast
- Castle Hill
- Point Judith