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What Does a Drug Investigation Entail?

What Is the Goal of a Drug Investigation?

The drug investigation unit at a local police department typically has as its chief goal the conducting of investigations with the intent of accomplishing two aims:

  • arresting drug dealers
  • taking or seizing assets gained through criminal and illegal measures by those same drug dealers

In many localities, law enforcement primarily seeks to direct their efforts toward wholesale or mid-level drug dealers, in particular. However, a drug investigation could encompass the arrest of street-level drug dealers, closing "crack houses," and/or arresting large-scale, kilogram-level drug dealers, as well. These drug investigation units investigate all types of criminal narcotics dealings. As a result, all narcotics such as marijuana, heroin, cocaine, methamphetamine, ecstasy, and illegal drugs obtained by prescription are all subject to drug investigations.

Who Conducts a Drug Investigation?

Drug investigations are often conducted by the drugs and vice divisions of local county or state-level police departments. Often, the drug investigations departments are the largest ones in such divisions by the sheer number of police officers, funding, and resources. In some localities, there are no less than 20 officers or detectives dedicated to these very drug investigations. The operations of these divisions are supported by funds that pay investigation expenses, such as drug purchase money or informant payments.

How Are Drug Investigations Conducted?

Drug investigation units commence investigations based on the information they receive from their sources, which include officers on the street, members of the community, confidential informants, and other multiple agencies involved in law enforcement. Many drug enforcement agencies and police department units or divisions work to gather intelligence and interpret that intelligence as part of their ongoing law enforcement efforts. These professionals create and update intelligence databases on drug offenders and the trends in drugs and drug-related crimes in their particular jurisdictions.

Not surprisingly, a great deal of the intelligence and information received by police department units and divisions derives from local community members. It is the concerned citizen who is likely to provide law enforcement with invaluable intelligence at the local or ground level. Such citizens are able to provide information and intelligence while remaining completely anonymous. Many law enforcement departments and units do not use any form of caller identification, and they do not tape record phone conversations from callers providing tips, intelligence, and information. Such information, tips, and intelligence can be collected through submitting online forms or by phone.