According to a 2012 survey by the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration, nearly 24 million Americans aged 12 and older had used an illicit drug or abused a psychotherapeutic medication within the past month. The study also found that drug used is highest among 18-20 year old Americans, with approximately 23.9% of this age group reporting having used illicit drugs in the past month.

Illicit drug use is one of the greatest public health problems facing Americans today. Drug investigations have therefore become more prevalent. The primary goals of drug investigations are: 1) to arrest drug dealers, and 2) to seize assets that those drug dealers gained through criminal and illegal measures. Some examples of typical drug investigations include street-level drug possession, sales, and trafficking; prescription drug crime; production of manufactured drugs; and cultivation of marijuana.

Drug investigations typically use both covert and overt operations. Covert operations consist of undercover work, and are typically directed at drug traffickers. Overt operations, on the other hand, consist of street-level work addressing small- to mid-level drug traffickers, drug abusers, drug houses, and street corner drug dealing.

Drug investigations usually begin based on information investigators receive from their sources. Sources can include officers on the street, community members, confidential informants, and other law enforcement agencies. Many law enforcement agencies and police departments work in collaboration with one another on drug investigations. Narcotics investigators conduct follow-up investigations of felony narcotics arrests, conduct complex investigations of prescription drug fraud and forgeries, investigate narcotics offenses through confidential sources and undercover investigations, and follow up on tips received. Drug investigators must therefore understand the drug chain, from the highest-level suppliers to the street-level dealers.

To help fight drug crime, FORLETTA offers drug crime expert witness consulting and drug diversion investigations. If you suspect or know of improper drug use taking place in your community, contact FORLETTA’s private investigators for a drug investigation immediately.


  1. What Does a Drug Investigation Entail?
  2. Drug Enforcement Investigators