Although Utah has a relatively low crime rate compared to the rest of the country, the state has been very proactive in its homeland security efforts. Utah began formal domestic preparedness efforts in 1999 and ramped up these efforts in preparation for the 2002 Winter Olympics.
Salt Lake City has been designated as a potential target for terrorists. A foreign national from Uzbekistan was arrested in 2013 for training people in Utah and Idaho to create weapons of mass destruction. In addition, a potential domestic terrorist was arrested in 2013 for planning firearms and bomb attacks in Salt Lake City.
Utah has high rates of prescription drug abuse, and Mexican cartels have created large-scale marijuana plantations on public lands in the state. The federal government considers the threat posed by drug trafficking in Utah to be serious enough to have included six Utah counties in the Rocky Mountain High Intensity Drug Trafficking Area (HIDTA).
Eighteen federal law enforcement and two homeland security agencies operate in Utah, providing potential careers for citizens of the state who seek jobs as federal law enforcement officers.
Getting into Federal Law Enforcement
Over 440 federal officers possessed the power to carry firearms and arrest suspects in Utah in 2008. Obtaining a bachelor’s degree is a good first step to join these officers and become a federal law enforcement agent in Utah. This is the minimum educational requirement for most federal agencies.
Once recruits have been hired, they are extensively trained to prepare them to work in the field. Training typically entails formal academy training in conjunction with rigorous physical conditioning. Agents are also taught practical skills such as using firearms and perfecting their driving skills to drive defensively and in pursuit of suspects.
FBI – Since its first days in Utah in 1914, FBI agents in the state have helped to solve a number of pivotal cases. Agents from Salt Lake City helped arrest the Unabomber, Theodore Kaczynski. They investigated the polygamist Warren Jeffs for his arranged marriages of underage girls with older men leading to his arrest in 2006.
The FBI began a pilot program in Utah in 2013 to help fight cybercrime. This initiative granted Utah’s state law enforcement agencies access to the FBI’s data on Internet crime. Previously, information in the Internet Crime Complaint Center (IC3) was only accessible to federal investigators.
The agency projects that tailoring local information for law enforcement officers can help them to solve local cybercrimes. This pilot program began in the Salt Lake City office on West Amelia Earhart Drive.
Additional FBI efforts in Utah in 2013 included the following:
- The indictment of a man for attacking a synagogue
- The conviction of a men who had threatened the head of the US Anti-Doping Agency (USADA)
DEA – Officers of this agency are highly active in Utah and handled the following high profile cases in 2013:
- The conviction of a Compton, CA man for his involvement in growing over 4,200 marijuana plants on public land in Iron County
- Project Synergy was a nationwide crackdown on the distributors of synthetic drugs that was coordinated by the DEA and involved a number of agencies. Fourteen conspirators in St. George were charged with distributing over 2,600 pounds of the drug spice since April 2011.
Organized Crime Drug Enforcement Task Force (OCDETF) – Agents from the DEA, FBI, ICE, ATF, US Marshals, and state and local authorities helped to bring about the conviction of a large scale cocaine distribution network in Utah in 2013.
Federal Law Enforcement Offices in Utah
Most of the federal law enforcement agencies in Utah are based out of Salt Lake City. It is home to the following agencies:
- Field Office
- Joint Terrorism Task Force (JTTF)
- Field Office
- Secret Service
- US Marshals
These are the locations of additional federal law enforcement offices in Utah:
- St. George
- St. George