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The task of keeping the borders of the United States safe is given to the agents of the Customs and Border Protection, an agency of the Department of Homeland Security. Most people associate the CBP with border patrol agents who are assigned along the country’s border areas to ensure that no person or shipment enters illegally. However, did you know that there is also another class of agents working for the CBP? Their territories include oceans, lakes, and rivers. An elite group, these Marine Interdiction Agents (MIA), patrol these bodies of water to prevent the illegal entry of weapons of terror, interdict illegal narcotics and prevent the entry of undocumented aliens.
Marine Interdiction Agents perform marine law enforcement operations to detect, prevent, interdict, and apprehend terrorists, terrorist weapons, and other contraband and persons from illegally gaining entry or even attacking the country. Their main duties, as outlined in the job announcement for MIAs posted on USAJOBS, include the following:
- They serve as an Office of Air and Marine vessel commander or crew member in law enforcement operations using the marine assets of the Customs and Border protection
- They conduct maritime patrols, surveillance and pursuit activities to interdict smuggled contraband via land, air, and sea
- They conduct high speed vessel pursuits under adverse and sometimes hazardous conditions during the hours of darkness and during foul or inclement weather.
- They search vessels and/or persons to gather evidence to support allegations of criminal or terrorist activity
- They work closely with other Federal, state and local law enforcement agencies to gather/share intelligence information regarding illegal maritime activity to include identifying and preventing potential acts of terrorism
Obviously, the work of a Marine Interdiction Agent is not for anyone. But even if you know that you have the physical strength and unwavering courage to pursue illegal and potentially dangerous aliens at sea, you may still not be hired. This is because you still have to meet the specialized qualifications to become a MIA. For instance, you should have at least one year of specialized experience that gave you knowledge of basic law enforcement methods, techniques, skills and equipment used by a Marine Interdiction Agent. This can include giving assistance to officers in vessel searches, commanding or operating vessels with sophisticated marine navigation and radar systems, inspecting cargo, operating and maintaining vessels, performing surveillance and raids, conducting interviews with witnesses and suspects, writing reports detailing activities and observations, and providing expert witness testimony in court. If you don’t have the necessary experience, you can substitute a Master’s or equivalent graduate degree or two full years of progressively higher level graduate education leading to such a degree.
You should also have one of the licenses issued by the U.S. Coast Guard, such as the Master’s License; Operator of Uninspected Passenger Vessel (OUPV) License; Deck Mates License (Chief Mate, Second Mate and Third Mate) of greater than 200 gross tons; and Deck mates License (Chief Mate, Second Mate and Third Mate) of 200 gross tons or less (Near Coastal and Offshore). In addition, you should also pass a written exam; vessel evaluation; and structured oral interview to become hired.