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Federal Drug Case Investigations in DC

When there is a federal drug case investigation in DC, there are many institutions trying to further or ease the investigation, such as agencies or informants. The latter is trying to get the government to give a favorable recommendation to the judge in their case in exchange for their assistance. Informant’s integrity as a witness should be questioned by the DC federal drug lawyer. A federal drug defense lawyer in DC can help against companies that investigate federal drug cases and explain the tactics they use for their investigations.


With federal cases, there are many different agencies that prosecutors work with in putting cases together to prosecute. The most common agencies are the Federal Bureau of Investigations (FBI), the Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) and the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms, and Explosives (ATF).

Generally, the ATF’s primary jurisdiction is the illegal distribution or possession of firearms, alcohol, and tobacco. However, a lot of these criminal enterprises or alleged criminal enterprises are connected with illegal drugs as well. The ATF would not stop investigating because they find illegal narcotics.

Task Forces

In a lot of regions around the country, there are task forces that consist of multiple agencies working together in order to prosecute narcotics offenses. There are task force agencies that included the local police, Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE), and U.S. Border Patrol Agents dealing with securing drugs when they are brought into the country.

There have even been situations where there have been controlled deliveries involving the United States Postal Inspector. There are a variety of agencies that could be involved. As an example, in the District of Columbia, Southern Maryland, and Northern Virginia regions, there is a task force called HIDTA, which is the High-Intensity Drug Trafficking Area task force. That task force is made up of seasoned agents and police officers from all parts of the region, including the United States Park Police that came together to undertake federal drug case investigations.


As far as tactics or investigative methods, wiretaps are a common law enforcement tactic. Also, law enforcement officers and agents typically will use an informant to find evidence.

Use of Informants

Informants have a relationship with law enforcement as a result of some illegal conduct that they have done. Usually, they have a record. Perhaps they have been pulled over with a certain quantity of narcotics, but are connected in the drug community and willing to assist the investigators.

Still, they will often participate with law enforcement and will sometimes wear recording devices, go to their connections, and make drug purchases, which are then recorded on video. Sometimes they will use marked funds and the government will come back and do a search warrant and seize money that was allegedly used in a purchase from the defendant’s home, car, locker, or wherever they allegedly deposited the proceeds.

Use of Search Warrants

Sometimes when an individual is involved in a long-term investigation before an arrest, it is not uncommon for a law enforcement officer to execute a search warrant on a particular location and seize drugs and cash, but the person arrested has their case dropped. The case is dropped because it is part of a broader investigation and they do not want to tip their hands, but they want to build the case.

So the defendants in those situations will go about their business and think that perhaps the case was just too weak or a technical reason resulted in cases getting thrown out, and they’ll go about their business. Then, a year or a year and a half later, they will get indicted in federal court as a part of a broad conspiracy with lots of defendants. In those cases, the government has generally been investigating the individual for years.

Combining Tactics

There are times when law enforcement officers will use a combination of tactics. For example, they will set up a buy and then, using wiretaps, follow particular suspects to get a sense of where they are going to do meetings to get together with their connection and re-up with their drug storage. Law enforcement may surveil those encounters and then get them on videotape and/or photograph them for evidence to use at trial.

Post-Arrest Investigations

If an individual is indicted, then often law enforcement investigation is done at that point. Typically the wiretaps are completed with little new investigation. There might be some follow-up, but if multiple people are charged in a conspiracy, the government is actively seeking to recruit one or more people who have been charged to cooperate with them.

After an arrest, if items haven not yet been subpoenaed, if information that is seized has not been analyzed, those things take place at that point. If there are witnesses they need to talk to, that happens at that point. But the bulk of the investigation has already been done by the time an individual is charged.

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