The drug trade never fails to surprise those of us at the Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA). Even seasoned DEA agents are affected when we see the mother in Miami who sent out her 11-year old daughter at midnight to sell heroin; or the mailman in Michigan who delivered methamphetamine to houses on his route and was a user himself; or the tragedy of 8-year old DeSean Hill, who was killed by a stray bullet outside his Brooklyn home by dealers arguing about a dime bag of marijuana. And every DEA Agent has encountered the drug user who, despite having lost everything: job, family, money, and friends, still can't beat his unrelenting addiction.
That's the reality of the drug trade -- not the glamorized pop culture version you see on TV or the magazine rack. It's not the revolving door of Palm Springs rehab centers for the celebrity of the week. It's not the pop music scene where teens are exposed to music where one-third of hit songs have some form of explicit reference to substance abuse.
When Spike TV begins airing their first ever original series, DEA, on April 2, viewers will see for themselves the shocking reality of the drug trade. This series is far more than just another cop show. This series puts the "real" in reality TV. There's nothing scripted or predictable about this show. It shows the gritty reality of drug enforcement and the violent drug underworld: real DEA Special Agents, real cold-blooded criminals, real drug raids, and the very real dangers we face with every deal.
Never before has DEA let cameras this deep into the drug trade. Viewers live the DEA creed to expect the unexpected. As much as we prepare, plan, and train, we can't control everything on a drug raid or undercover deal. All the planning could change the minute the reality of the street hits. You never know what's on the other side of the door until you go through it, and as we say, anytime dope and money come together, there's a good chance of violence.
Viewers will go undercover with us. You'll feel your heart beating faster as we approach the darkened car on a dimly lit street. You'll feel on edge as we set up undercover operations with unpredictable, violent drug dealers. You'll feel the adrenaline rush as we crash through the door of stash houses occupied by armed felons.
What will keep you coming back is not just the action but the Agents. You'll get to know these agents of Group 14 in Detroit and see the dynamic of the team. You'll see the junior agents learning the job side-by-side with senior members of the team. You'll see how each member excels in the various aspects of narcotics work: surveillance, flipping defendants, street smarts, and undercover work. These agents work in one of the country's most deadly cities, and each has to protect the others' back like their life depends on it. Because it does.
At DEA, we're fighting illegal drugs in this country and 62 others, from the jungles of Colombia to the caves of Afghanistan, to take down the world's most powerful, prolific, and violent drug lords. These are kingpins like Osiel Cardenas-Guillen, who brutally commanded a Mexican drug cartel and directed the smuggling of 4 to 6 tons of cocaine per month over the U.S. border, and now sits behind bars in a U.S. prison because of DEA. DEA also brought to justice internationally notorious arms trafficker Viktor Bout, the so-called "merchant of death" who supported terrorists and conspired to arm a narco-terrorist organization. No matter their location, all drug lords share a common operating procedure: protect your money and empire at all costs. These are ruthless criminals who think nothing of killing anyone who gets in their way.
You may ask DEA agents why we chose this career -- one of the world's most dangerous: why would anyone put themselves in a risky situation like buying dope from volatile dealers, or crashing through doors of stash houses not knowing what we'll find on the other side. The humble answers you get will include "Because it's fun," or "I didn't want a desk job." But the real reason we do it is because we believe in our mission. We believe it's a calling to do this job. We believe that we are the only line of defense standing between law-abiding citizens who deserve to live in drug-free neighborhoods and bad guys driven by greed to line their pockets with the blood-soaked riches of a destructive trade.
Spike TV's new series shows the graphic reality of the drug business and most importantly, better than anything else I've seen, it tells the story of being a DEA Agent.
Special Agent Mary Irene Cooper is the Chief of Congressional & Public Affairs for the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration.
DEA, the new series, produced by Al Roker Entertainment will air on Spike TV on April 2 at 11:00PM EST (check local listings).