Once case has been initiated on a drug investigation and all the preliminary measures have been taken; the agency handling the case feels they have enough information to move forward; the next step is for officers to create a budget for what is needed to make a substantial case. According to the federal drug control the budget for the 2018 fiscal year is $27.57 billion; which has increased from the 2013 budget of $23.8 billon(\”Economics of Drug Policy and the Drug War,\” n.d.). Drug investigations are one of the most expensive investigations the government is responsible for paying for on a state and local level. The cost related to a drug investigation must include the following resources:
- Financial Resources: Usually the department manager will have to create a budget, for the case officers, administrative cost (such as filing, documentation, etc.), and the cost of any equipment that would be needed for the investigation. The lead officers, should also make sure other expenses such as the cost for the drugs, space needed for surveillance (house, apartment, motel, etc.), and there is a little extra included in the budget for any unexpected expenses.
- Manpower: For any case that will require months or years of extensive surveillance it should be arranged from the beginning that there will been a need for additional officers in case an emergency comes up for an officer or officers involved there is enough manpower in place to keep the investigation moving forward. Also, there needs to be enough manpower, if an informant or officer cover is blown and the deals starts to fall through or gets violent, enough offices are in place to assist.
- Investigative equipment: During the preparation stage of a case, usually the department manager will make sure the case officers have all the general equipment they need for the investigation. However, the case officers may advise on any specialized equipment that will be needed such as body transmitters, night viewing devices, radio scramblers, etc.
Other Information Sources
Most drug investigations are conducted by local police agencies, due to the fact they are usually more valuable during the investigation than outside resources, because they know their community well and will have a better chance of getting information from informants and from members in the community. However, at the start of any investigation case offices should review the following information which could be beneficial to the investigation (Lyman, 2007, p. 5):
- Incident reports: these are reports that usually come from a call where no criminal charges were involved or either they could have been misdemeanor chargers; such as a traffic accident; noisy neighbor, loitering, etc.
- Police intelligence reports: are important because they are categorized either by the suspected criminal activity, the location, and the suspects name and address. This information is important during the beginning stages of an investigation, because it can provide valuable data in pursuing an investigation, prosecutions, and narrowing down suspects.
- Arrest records: are important in an investigation because they provided information on rather or not a suspected suspect has any prior convictions or arrests. An arrest record also provides contact information for relatives and friends associated with the suspect; as well as current or former employment information.
- Warrant file: is important and very valuable because if the suspect has any outstanding warrants, this will give the officers a chance to bring the suspect in and it also helps officers identify any identifying markers such as tattoos, birth marks, piercing, etc. related to the suspect.
In 1984 the Federal Comprehensive Forfeiture Act gave authority to seize any property base on the presumption that is included in any drug criminal activity. The Federal Comprehensive Forfeiture Act; allows officers to seize bank accounts, homes, rental properties , boats, cars, privately own business, and securities When a person is convicted of a drug felony he or she is subject to forfeiture sanctions; however, the government must establish probable cause that the property was purchased either within the time of the violation or shortly after; and there was no other source for the property (Lyman, 2007, p. 41).
The Controlled Substance Act of 1970 (CSA) was a federal act passed by US Congress, which created a strict drug control policy under the control of the federal government. The CSA has penalties and fines in place for each violation up to $250,000 as well as seizure which can include the following; books, computers, all controlled substances, raw material and equipment (Lyman, 2007, p. 42). For example if a drug dealer sells drugs out her his/her home then that home becomes the place to facilitate the crime; therefore is seizable under the law.
The War on Drugs has resulted in some of the most full-sized modification in the criminal justice system, due to the fact that the due process revolution of 1960s. Asset forfeiture has been used as a criminal sanction, however, has been camouflaged as a civil procedure, for that reason in impact limiting the due process procedures rights of these accused. The state has extended its control over citizens and has simultaneously weakened the right of folks to guard them in opposition to state intrusion (Jensen & Gerber, 1996, p. 1).
Undercover officers within a local police department or state department were created to deal with the war on drugs and crimes. Undercover officers prepare evidence for the prosecutions of criminals involved in drug-related crimes. At times local officers may have to work with specialized drug squads or task forces, from different state or federal agencies. In order for any drug investigation to be successful officers need to be prepared, that includes making sure the officers have the necessary equipment needed; the manpower, as well as the financial means to complete the investigation from beginning to end. The resources to and access to other resources that can assist in the investigation such as being able to review arrest records, warrant files, police reports, incident reports, etc.
Forfeiture laws and sanctions are investigative techniques that undercover officers can utilize during their investigations. This makes it possible for officers to seize monies, drugs, and property that could have been obtained with profits of drug activities.
Undercover officers are a very valuable to all undercover investigations, however, officers and citizens within the community where the investigation is taking place are always in harm’s way during the investigations. At each stage of the investigations the undercover officers should always proceed with caution.