U.S. flag

An official website of the United States government, Department of Justice.

NCJRS Virtual Library

The Virtual Library houses over 235,000 criminal justice resources, including all known OJP works.
Click here to search the NCJRS Virtual Library

Connecting Drug Paraphernalia to Drug Gangs

NCJ Number
FBI Law Enforcement Bulletin Volume: 72 Issue: 2 Dated: February 2003 Pages: 1-6
Robert D. Sheehy; Efrain A. Rosario
John E. Ott
Date Published
February 2003
6 pages
This article discusses how knowledge of the connection between drug paraphernalia and drug gangs aids law enforcement agencies in battling drug distribution.
From April 1997 through February 2000, Federal law enforcement agencies in Maryland conducted an investigation, entitled "Shop Light," which targeted drug paraphernalia outlets. These outlets were used by the investigation as a means to locate, identify, and disrupt or dismantle large drug organizations operating in the greater Baltimore metropolitan area. The investigation focused on outlet stores typically known as "cut or vial stores," as their inventory included diluents, adulterants, and other products used by drug organizations to measure, separate, convert, dilute, adulterate, and package drugs in bulk quantities that drug gangs then sell. The structure of the investigation is outlined, including how to identify the types of materials that are favored in the area, location of the outlets, use of undercover agents to make purchases and observe operations, and formulation of an investigative strategy. Strategies include an overt approach in which the store owner cooperates, or covert approach where the store owner is unaware of the investigation. Locating the central hub of the gang or their safe house is described, along with the process leading to a raid of the location. The final action of closing the stores is described and the results of the investigation are outlined. In conclusion, the "Shop Light" technique, which identifies the upper echelon of drug gang members and their principle locations, is recommended by the authors as one that has proven to be effective in the battle against drug distribution.