When it comes to drug offenses, the police are often much more interested in the big fish than the small-time drug dealer.
For that reason, they have many tactics used specifically to locate the big fish in drug crimes.
Observation is the most commonly used tactic. Police monitor a suspect’s movements in the real world and online. They search for links between their presence in the physical world and the digital. For example, they can correlate time spent in a cafe with the online presence of a suspect’s hidden identity.
Police officers commonly work with shipping companies and the federal postal service to filter suspicious packages. They can trace a parcel from the place of shipment to the hands of the receiver using tracking numbers.
Lemonizing is a term used to describe covert operations on the internet to weed out drug trafficking. Similar to the real-world undercover tactics used in which police act as buyers and sellers to get an inside look at the operation and catch the big leaders in a drug organization.
Informants are an invaluable resource for police. They may offer freedom or lesser charges to an informant in exchange for the names of key players in a drug operation.
Tracing money exchanges can lead police to big wigs in a drug operation. For example, they may follow large cryptocurrency transactions until someone turns them back into cash, which is usually the weak link in identification.
Police tactics for catching leading drug traffickers evolve, primarily with the rapid changes in online activity.