The Independent Student Newspaper of St. John's University

The Torch

The Independent Student Newspaper of St. John's University

The Torch

The Independent Student Newspaper of St. John's University

The Torch

Alumnus lectures about DEA career

Students got an inside look at the life of a Drug Enforcement Administration agent when St. John’s alumni Lewis Rice spoke on campus Nov. 12.

Rice, a former DEA agent and current vice president in charge of global security and trademark protection for Estee Lauder, spoke about his new book, DEA Special Agent: My Life on the Front Line.

Rice, who graduated from St. John’s in 1974, spoke about how his time at the University enabled him to get involved with the DEA.

“Service and law enforcement are connected, so it was a very natural transition for me to go into the DEA,” he said.

Rice said that he got a job at the DEA, created by former President Richard Nixon due to a drug use problem in the United States, almost immediately after graduating.

According to Rice, the department started with 1,500 agents and today it has more than 5,000. The agency’s largest office is now in Afghanistan .

Rice said a position at the DEA is a dangerous job, stating that a few weeks ago three agents were killed in a helicopter crash in Afghanistan. Every day they go out with guns in case anything goes wrong. He said DEA agents are “people who put themselves in harm’s way.”

Rice also mentioned that the TV portrayal of undercover agents is unrealistic.

Sophomore Justin Solomon said this information will change the way he views crime shows.

“My opinion on crime shows has changed completely and I see how fabricated they really are,” he said.

During his time at the DEA, Rice worked in New York, Washington, and Kingston, Jamaica. Rice spent most of the lecture talking about the case he worked on involving Frank Lucas, a drug lord and organized crime boss who operated in Harlem in the 1960s and 70s. Rice said that the movie based on Lucas’ life, American Gangster, was glamorized by Hollywood. In the end, he said that “the true story is just as interesting” as the fabricated version.

After the speech, copies of the book were available for $10 each.

Students voiced their opinions about what they learned from Rice.

“I was a bit turned off from the undercover work when he mentioned all the true dangers of it,” said Melissa Herson, a senior.

Junior John Nuezzella said it was “very enlightening to hear about
his work.”

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