The Seattle Police Narcotics Section, General Investigations Unit (GIU) serves many different functions in the investigation of narcotics related incidents. It is broken down into four different areas, which include, Filing, Seizure/Forfeiture, Abatement and Drug Court Liaison. The functions of these “squads” are as follows:
This squad is responsible for the follow-up investigation of felony narcotics arrests, made by the Seattle Police Department’s patrol units. These cases often involve illegal narcotics such as heroin, cocaine, methamphet-amine, LSD or PCP. These drugs make up the majority of the felony narcotics arrest cases that the GIU will investigate. Investigations include the filing of these cases with the King County Prosecutor’s Office. In the course of a year, the GIU will handle approximately, three to four thousand felony narcotics cases, which also includes the complex investigations of prescription fraud & forgeries.
Seizure & Forfeiture
This squad is responsible for handling cases in which property has been seized. The Washington State Asset Forfeiture Program uses both civil and criminal law to seize personal assets, which are used in, or are the proceeds of criminal activity. The function of this squad is to conduct financial investigations to track and account for illicit proceeds. Detectives are responsible for the managing and facilitation of all phases of the seizure adjudicative process.
This squad is responsible for administering the Washington State Drug Abatement Act program. This program notifies property owners of drug activity and works with them to resolve narcotics related issues. If a problem cannot be resolved, by statute, the property can be closed by court order for up to one year.
Drug Court Liaison
The Drug Court Liaison detective acts as a representative of the Seattle Police Department in the King County Drug Court program. Participants in this program are offered treatment, in lieu of incarceration. While the criteria and details vary among individual courts, defendants often waive all trial rights, as a condition of entering the treatment option. Typically, defendants will enter a minimum, 12-month program. If a defendant “graduates” from the Drug Court program, the pending narcotics charge which initiated entry into the program, is dismissed. If a defendant fails the program, they are found guilty and sentenced to the standard sentencing range.
NARCOTICS PRO-ACTIVE SQUADS
Detectives assigned to the pro-active enforcement duties are responsible for investigating narcotics offenses by developing confidential sources and through undercover investigations. Detectives in this assignment are highly motivated and are responsible for initiating their own investigations, whereas most other detective units conduct follow up work on crimes that have already occurred. Detectives initiate investigations based on information received from a variety of sources including patrol officers, community members, confidential informants, and other law enforcement agencies.
The primary focus of the pro-active unit is directed towards mid-level drug dealers operating throughout the city. Investigations can range from arresting street level dealers and shutting down a nuisance drug house, to long term investigations that dismantle complex drug trafficking organizations. Pro-active detectives investigate all types of illegal narcotics including heroin, cocaine, methamphetamine, ecstasy, and illegal prescription drugs.
Several detectives from the unit are assigned to the Seattle Field Division of the Drug Enforcement Administration as Task Force Officers (TFO). These detectives work closely in partnership with the DEA on narcotics conspiracy cases that are prosecuted in US Federal District Court.
THE CLAN-LAB TEAM
The Pro-Active Unit also staffs the departments Clandestine Drug Laboratory Response Team. The team is comprised of sergeants and detectives who have been specially trained and equipped to deal with the hazardous chemicals and devices found in meth labs. The Clan Lab Team works in conjunction with the departments Identification Unit, Seattle Fire Haz-Mat Unit and State Department of Ecology to safely process labs and to identify and prosecute those responsible for meth lab sites. Thankfully, the number of active meth labs and dumpsites found in the city has been declining over the past few years, reflecting both a regional and national trend. Unfortunately, methamphetamine abuse continues to be a significant drug problem in the Seattle area. Much of the drug is now made in “super labs” in Mexico and Canada where the precursor chemicals used in meth production are not regulated as they are in the United States.