The Aviation Division’s mission is to provide aviation support to operational and intelligence elements within DEA and the law enforcement community to detect, locate, identify, and assess illicit narcotics-related trafficking activities. Aviation support is critical to DEA’s strategic goal of disrupting and dismantling drug trafficking organizations that have a significant impact on America’s illegal drug availability. To accomplish its mission, the Aviation Division employs a fleet of airplanes and helicopters flown by specially trained Special Agent/Pilots.
The aviation program started with a single aircraft in 1971 as part of DEA’s predecessor, the Bureau of Narcotics and Dangerous Drugs. By 1973, when DEA was created, the program had grown to 24 aircraft and 41 Special Agent/Pilots overseen by a Chief Pilot. In 1994, it was granted field division status and the Chief Pilot position was converted to a Special Agent in Charge. Today, the Aviation Division consists of approximately 125 Special Agent/Pilots and nearly 100 aircraft.
Today’s Aviation Division
The Aviation Division coordinates and oversees operations from the Aviation Operations Center (AOC) located at Alliance Airport in Fort Worth, Texas. The AOC serves as the primary maintenance facility for Aviation’s fleet and as headquarters for its supervisory, administrative and contract personnel.
The division has four Aviation Resident Offices based outside major metropolitan areas. Personnel are based in other locations throughout the United States, the Caribbean, Central and South America, and Afghanistan.
The Aviation Division supports DEA’s enforcement efforts through surveillance, photographic reconnaissance, movement of personnel and cargo and transportation of fugitives and prisoners.
Special Agent/Pilot Careers
Applicants for Special Agent/Pilot positions are expected to complete a minimum of two years in good standing as a Special Agent conducting enforcement operations.