Cheri Oz is the Special Agent in Charge (SAC) of the Drug Enforcement Administration’s (DEA) Phoenix Field Division. While it is one of the smallest divisions geographically, it is also one of the busiest. SAC Oz’s wide breadth of experience and assignments along with her ability to organize complex, long-term operations involving state, local, federal and foreign agencies made her the perfect choice for leading a division that sits as a chokepoint for the illegal drugs coming into the U.S. every day.
In 1996, SAC Oz began her law enforcement career with the Phoenix Police Department where she began as a Patrol Officer and Field Training Officer. Later, she made Detective and was assigned to the Organized Crime Bureau and Vice Enforcement Unit. Despite a prospering career with the Phoenix Police Department, SAC Oz joined the ranks of DEA in 2002 as a Special Agent.
Upon graduating from the DEA Academy in Quantico, Virginia, SAC Oz was assigned to the Los Angeles Field Division. Her experience as a local police officer in a major metropolitan area proved instrumental in her success as she went from a general enforcement group to the Mobile Enforcement Team (commonly referred to as the MET Team) which focused on the most dangerous, local street gangs. She then transferred to the Los Angeles International Airport Narcotics Task Force where she focused on interdicting couriers and seizing large shipments of currency and drugs. Finally, she went to the High Intensity Drug Trafficking Area (HIDTA) Group where she coordinated high profile domestic and international, complex conspiracy investigations.
In 2011, SAC Oz received her first promotion and physical transfer within DEA to become a Group Supervisor of a HIDTA Team in the Miami Field Division. Miami gave her the venue and the canvass to elevate her leadership traits, and the opportunity to mentor DEA’s future leaders. Enforcing drug laws takes creativity and persistence, but supervising drug investigators takes finesse. Guiding, coaching, mentoring and often simply listening were the skillsets she developed while supervising and motivating those around her. SAC Oz went on to supervise Tactical Diversion groups which investigate the people responsible for moving billions of legitimate pharmaceutical pills onto the streets, contributing to America’s opioid crisis.
In 2017, SAC Oz transferred to DEA Headquarters in Arlington, Virginia, where she gained exposure to the many foreign and domestic facets of the agency. SAC Oz served as a Staff Coordinator in the Office of Operations Management Data and Accountability Section. There, she learned to step back and see the big picture and the direction of the agency as she focused on the Threat Enforcement Prioritization Process contributing to identifying and prioritizing drugs threats to American communities.
SAC Oz promoted to Section Chief of DEA’s Human Resources Division and managed DEA’s Special Agent Recruitment and Hiring Program. SAC Oz revamped how agents are hired. She personally called hundreds of agents to get feedback on how to improve the hiring process. She led the charge in streamlining paperwork and quietly changed policy. Her tenacity, insight and innovation earned her the DEA Administrator’s Award in 2018 for innovation in recruiting and improvement in DEA’s hiring practices.
In 2019, SAC Oz transferred to the Seattle Field Division as an Assistant Special Agent in Charge where she supervised Seattle Enforcement Groups, Tacoma Enforcement Groups, the Airport Group, the Security Group and Technical Operations. In one year she was promoted again and headed back where she began: the Phoenix Field Division.
In March 2020, SAC Oz reported to lead the Phoenix Field Division. It was a promotion, a homecoming, and her greatest set of challenges yet to come. While implementing her vision for the division, she faced the complications of COVID-19 while completing a scheduled move of hundreds of employees to a new location with virtually no impact on enforcement and investigative activities.
In October 2021, the most violent DEA shooting in more than a decade devastated the Phoenix Field Division. SAC Oz tendered healing and inspiration to her team of over 400 people who were reeling from the tragedy. SAC Oz continues to lead the DEA Phoenix Field Division as she partners with other law enforcement agencies across Arizona curbing drug trafficking and pursuing criminals.
SAC Oz has a Bachelor of Arts degree in Criminology and Law Studies with a double minor in Psychology and Sociology from Marquette University. She has received numerous awards throughout her career from both DEA and other agencies.
DEA. 11 July, 2018. Phoenix Leadership. Retrieved from https://www.dea.gov/phoenix/phoenix-leadership on 17 March, 2023
DEA. "Phoenix Leadership."Drug Enforcement Agency, 11 July, 2018, https://www.dea.gov/phoenix/phoenix-leadership Accessed 17 March, 2023.
DEA. . Drug Enforcement Agency on DEA website. https://www.dea.gov/phoenix/phoenix-leadership. 11 July, 2018. Accessed 17 March, 2023.