Many drug charges stem from being caught from a drug buy set up between law enforcement and a confidential informant. Typically, a confidential informant is a person that is in trouble with the law. For that person to get out of trouble, they volunteer to work with law enforcement as a confidential informant by giving them names of alleged drug dealers and by performing drug buys.
The informant is met at a secure location by law enforcement and contacts an alleged drug dealer by phone. Law enforcement is observing the phone number of the person being called along with how their name is stored in the informant’s phone. Law enforcement is also recording the voice of the person being called. Once the drug buy is set up, the informant is strip searched. The purpose of this search is to attempt to ensure that the informant has no drugs on them. Then the informant is wired with audio and sometimes video recording equipment. The informant is either given a vehicle or uses their own vehicle to drive to the location of the drug buy. These vehicles are searched by law enforcement in order to testify that there were no drugs in the vehicle.
Law enforcement always attempts to maintain visual contact with the informant. Typically, a law enforcement officer is set up near the drug buy with video equipment. The purpose of this is to be able to identify the person allegedly selling drugs instead of just relying on the statement of the informant. Another officer will follow the informant in their vehicle and park nearby where they can listen to the audio recording as the drug buy is taking place.
The confidential informant’s identity is kept confidential until a court determines that this information should be released. A criminal defense attorney must file a motion to reveal who the informant is and to gain information as to the recording and video devices. Below is a brief list of the reasons to have this information.
- CREDIBILITY: The informant may have several prior criminal drug charges. An investigation may reveal that this person is not a reliable witness for the State.
- VIDEO: Did the video record the identity of the alleged seller in this transaction? Are drugs seen exchanging hands? Did the equipment operate properly? What was each person wearing?
- AUDIO: Are the voices of the alleged seller and buyer distinguishable? Is the entire transaction recorded? Did the equipment operate properly?
- TIME OF DAY: Was it dark outside?
- WEATHER: What was the visibility? Was it raining? Was it snowing?
Once the alleged drug buy has taken place, the confidential informant is followed by law
enforcement again and the process of searching is repeated. An officer will then apply for a search warrant and attempt to make an arrest of the accused.
The confidential informant may be on the hook to perform a lot of buys for law enforcement unless he or she has an attorney or has negotiated how many they are to perform. In many cases, the informant is harassed and threatened with criminal charges unless they continue working with law enforcement.
If you have been charged with selling drugs or are being used or have been asked to be a confidential informant, you should speak with a criminal defense attorney. I am experienced in how to handle these types of cases. Call BOND LAW FIRM, LLC at (573)769-6155.