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Citizens Police Academy-week 5, part 2: narcotics squad

The drugs of choice may have changed over the years, but the demand for them, and the havoc that they wreak on people’s lives hasn’t. I mentioned in my last post that a narcotics officer also came and talked to my CPA class on Thursday evening. For someone who has done a fair amount of research on the drug trafficking, his spiel was fascinating.

These guys do a lot of undercover drug buys. They’ll usually make two or three buys from a dealer before they arrest him. It makes their case stronger by establishing that the sale wasn’t a one-off event. When they buy from a small-scale dealer, the intent is usually to try to get him to inform on the next person up in the chain. If you ever watch DEA—a great show—you'll see them “flipping” dealers frequently in order to get a bigger fish.

According to the narcotics officer, everybody snitches. Everybody. Unlike on TV, they’ll sell out their friend, brother, mother, girlfriend, wife, you name it. Everyone wants a deal when they get up in front of the judge.

One of the problems for an officer who's been undercover a long time is running into someone he’s arrested in the past. He lives in another county, partly because it’s more affordable, and partly to avoid being recognized.

A few years ago, he and his wife came into town to shop for furniture. They walked in the front door and the guy who greeted them was fresh out of a jail cell the officer had put him in a couple of years before. The officer and his wife walked out.

They went to another furniture store and found what they were looking for. He pulled their truck around back, and who’s loading the truck? Another guy he arrested. Hey, what’s with ex-cons and furniture stores, huh? He hightailed it back inside and had them rip up all of his financing paperwork (with his name, address, phone, everything) and ran to the ATM so he could pay cash.

At one point, someone threatened to kill him. The thug was able to get the officer’s address from a contact at the phone company! Now the officer has all his information blocked. His son got pulled over for speeding and had a difficult time explaining why the car came back as unregistered. The motor cop thought the kid had stolen the car. Poor guy.

Someone in class asked about women in the narcotics squad. Right now, there are only two out of the fifteen or so officers. He’d like more. Not only are they incredibly dedicated (in his experience so far), but they work in pairs, and a man is often less suspicious when accompanied by a woman on a drug buy.

Some key things about drugs:

  • The marijuana that’s out there today is significantly more potent than it was 10-15 years ago. It also goes for about $5000/pound. High quality stuff is greener, has fewer seeds/stems, and comes in a variety of colors. It’s branded much like other drugs, and people have their preferences. BC Bud, for example comes from Canada.
  • Marijuana is still dangerous.
    • Every druggy the cop has ever met started with marijuana. Not all pot users will move on to harder drugs, but hard drug users almost universally started with pot.
    • Just like any other drug, the users often resort to crime to pay for their habit.
  • One of the latest things is the synthetic marijuana (aka Spice, aka K2). It's not illegal in all states, but it's incredibly dangerous. Kids think it's safe because it's legal and sold as incense. These smokable herbal blends are coated with chemicals that mimic THC, the active ingredient in marijuana, but often have unexpected side effects.
  • PCP is a horrible drug. Users on PCP don’t feel pain. This makes it nearly impossible for officers to arrest them without the use of a taser.
    • PCP is now being sprayed onto marijuana for a potent and dangerous mix.
    • Street-level dealers often “cut” the PCP with water and lighter fluid. Yuck!
    • PCP interferes with the sensory system to the degree that men have been known to light themselves on fire and laugh while they burn. Another man stood and fought off police officers while suffering from a compound leg fracture.
    • If you see someone running naked down the street, he’s probably on PCP. It makes them feel hot. They also have hallucinations.

As far as seized assets, like drugs and drug money, they often become evidence in a case. Once the case is done, the department will usually get a cut of the money to use for drug buys and equipment. At one point they even funded additional officers, and I mentioned on Sunday that seized assets were used to buy the laser the crime scene squad wanted to lift fingerprints off plastic.

Bottom line? Just say no. 🙂

Tell your friends!


  1. Reply

    My dh is a cop. He’s closing in on retirement now, but spent his share of time on the streets, in the gang unit, and as a crime scene detective.

    And like your instructor, we left town as soon as he graduated from the police academy. We thought three towns over was far enough for a decade, but when the lives of our children were threatened we moved and put a few more towns between us and the city where he works.

    • Reply

      Wow, Regina. So scary, and sad that our police officers don’t feel like they can live in the area where they work. Thanks to your husband for the work he does!

      And thank *you* for stopping by!

  2. Reply

    I think it’s sad that so often we hear about bad cops, corrupt cops, power hungry cops, cops who go out of their way to make someone’s day just a little bit more difficult, and we so rarely hear about the really wonderful and brave things they do. Even when high profile murderers are caught, it gets a snort news blurb before it’s on to the next horrendous thing.

    Sure, there are bad cops out there. Just like there are bad teachers, bad lawyers, bad businessmen, etc. I really appreciate you bringing us all the good.

    • Reply

      Thanks, Kali, and great point. I’ve been nothing but impressed with every office who’s come to speak to us so far. They’re friendly, patient, proud of what they do, and enthusiastic.

      This class has been a good reminder that they’re just people trying to do the best job they know how. And they aren’t in it to nail us for doing something wrong. They want to protect us.

  3. Reply

    A narcotics cop told me this interesting difference between drug crimes and all others. Most crimes are investigated after the fact. You go look for your suspect after the crime has been committed. In drug crimes, you have to have your suspect in advance of the crime so you can catch him in the act of committing it.

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