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GetSmart About Drugs - A DEA Resource for Parents

News Release
July 13, 2004

DEA Trains State and Local Officers on the Latest
Drug Smuggling Trends

police officers receive instruction on hidden compartments
police officers receive instruction on hidden compartments

JUL 16-- As drug traffickers throughout the world construct new methods of drug smuggling, law enforcement must be one step ahead. The U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) strives to share intelligence information with our law enforcement counterparts in order to multiply the impact against narcotics organizations. Since DEA was created in 1973, we have had a strong state and local police task force representation in DEA offices throughout the United States. DEA has taken the lead role in providing narcotics investigation and safety related training in all twenty-one (21) DEA field divisions.

As part of our national and international training programs, the DEA hosts training courses for various federal, state and local police agencies within the field. This training is offered at no cost to the law enforcement agency.

police officers examine a demonstration of a hydraulic secret compartment
police officers examine a demonstration of a hydraulic secret compartment

The DEA Detroit office recently hosted two one day training courses on the detection and operation of hidden compartments or "traps". These "traps" are used to smuggle drugs, cash and weapons throughout the United Sates and to and from foreign countries. Years ago, hidden compartments consisted of an empty spare tire in a trunk that was filled with marijuana or cocaine. Drug traffickers have raised the sophistication level of "traps" to an extraordinarily high level. Trafficking groups now purchase fleets of specially chosen vehicle makes and models which will best house their secret compartments. These compartments can be quite small in passenger vehicles to elaborate hydraulic "traps" hidden in tractor trailers and large sport utility vehicles. The traps often cost thousands of dollars to install and require extensive synchronized actions to open the compartments. Hidden compartments are not a new phenomenon, but the complexity and sophistication are new.

During the two-day period, the DEA Detroit trained 176 police officers from 54 police departments throughout Michigan on how to recognize, locate and reveal hidden compartments in motor vehicles. The training was conducted by a DEA Agent from New York City who is a leading national expert on vehicle "trap" identification. This type of information is shared throughout law enforcement to help bolster enforcement operations and increase officer safety in the very dangerous business of drug trafficking.


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