Among the most common ways major drug operations are taken down by federal authorities is through undercover investigations. They wear wires, create Internet alias's and do whatever they can to bring down the people involved. One recent case that Maryland authorities were involved in shows just how important it is to be careful of who you trust.
The case centered around a hidden website known as Silk Road. The website was allegedly a hub for drug dealers and buyers. Dealing in Bitcoin rather than normal currency, users bought and sold drugs from all over the world. Although agents caught on two years ago, the site its and users' information was encrypted.
Eventually, agents used an alias to try to get in touch with the person who was running Silk Road. From an office in Baltimore, they began to work their way into the website's inner circle.
After discussing various drug deals with the man operating the website, the undercover agents told the man he wanted to sell greater quantities, hoping to gain some information about the man who was behind everything. Eventually, a breakthrough with a member of the website's inner circle led agents to the man who was running it all.
The man was arrested and is facing drug charges along with charges of attempting to murder a witness.
This case is a clear example of the various tactics that law enforcement officials use to get the information they need to charge someone with a crime. Undercover operations are common in complex situations like this one.
When an arrest is the result of an undercover operation, it is easy for the accused individual to feel like there is no way out. That, however, is not true. When law enforcement's evidence relies on witness testimony -- or if an undercover officer illegally collected evidence -- it may be possible to break down the prosecution's case with a strong defense.
Source: The Baltimore Sun, "Fall of online drug bazaar Silk Road began with tip to Md. agents," Ian Duncan, Nov. 18, 2013