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Interdiction Seizures: Dope Vs. Cash

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Interdiction Seizures: Dope Vs. Cash

When teaching interdiction I am often asked the question about “which side of the highway do I work, the dope side or the money side?”  For those reading that are unfamiliar with this let’s explain the phrase.  Interdiction officers typically work a major highway that is a drug route.  For example, in Texas, dopers travel southbound into the state from northern states carrying large amounts of cash for the dope purchase, either in Texas or Mexico, depending on where there connection is.  This is what we refer to as the “money side” of the highway.   Typically, they will leave the state traveling northbound, eastbound or any other direction that leaves the state and travels into other parts of the country.  This is typically referred to the “dope side” of the highway.  So when we discuss working the money side or the dope side, it all comes down to the individual officer’s preference.  But there are several factors to consider.  I personally, have preferred to have always worked the “dope side” for the last 17 years and my reasons are simple.   

  1. There is no greater adrenaline rush than finding a huge load of dope and putting the cuffs on the perps.
  2. When you find dope, then you have a felony offense, and the perp’s car, cash and any other assets are subject to seizure.  (Dope side arrest doesn’t usually have huge sums of cash on them but they typically will have cash).

Now, officer’s say to me, “yeah that’s cool, but wouldn’t you rather find a million bucks in drug money?”  My answer to that is those types of seizures are excellent, but you have to realize that if you don’t find any dope with it you are dealing with a CIVIL case, not a criminal case.  Your investigation will be much more different than if you discover the dope, it will be tedious, and there will be not satisfaction of a felony drug arrest.

Let’s take a hypothetical, let’s say you work the dope side of the highway and make one large dope arrest a week.  Let’s say that these drug haulers carry about $1000 in traveling money and let’s say each hypothetical load of dope is 50 pounds.  That totals up to $4000 in cash, 200 pounds of dope and four vehicle seizures a month.  So over the course of a year working interdiction your stats would be 2400 pounds of dope seized, $48,000 in cash and somewhere around 48 vehicles seized (that will also add up to cash when they are auctioned off) and at least 48 felony arrests or more, depending on how many perps are in the vehicle.

Now onto the defense of working the Money side, your cash seizure  totals for the year may wind up in the millions, but what will your arrests and dope seizures total up to be? Probably not quite as impressive as your total stats would be on the “dope side”.

Whichever you choose to work, you must remember, dope or money, you are still dealing with the drug smuggler, and your number one priority is that you stay safe and WIN.  We need aggressive, dedicated officers and both the dope and money side of the roadways, as we continue our vigilant fight against the drug cartels. 

As always, stay safe, stay focused, operate with integrity and serve proud.

About the Author
Sergeant Andrew G. Hawkes has over 17 years of law enforcement experience.  He has a BA in Criminal Justice and is currently completing his master’s degree in Public Administration.   Additionally, he is a graduate of the Law Enforcement Management Institute of Texas; has a Master Police Peace Officer Certificate from the State of Texas; and, has a Police Instructor’s Licenses from the State of Texas.  Currently, Sergeant Andrew G. Hawkes is a member of the Collin County Sheriff’s Office (Texas) where he is a senior sergeant in the patrol operations.  Sergeant Andrew G. Hawkes is the author of Secrets of Successful Highway Interdiction.  According to Sergeant Andrew G. Hawkes, “After 17 years of highway drug interdiction, 500 felony arrests, 5,100 pounds in drug seizures, and over $20 million (drugs, cash and vehicles), I have learned a lot of drug-busting techniques that I want to share with you.”  His book, Secrets of Successful Highway Interdiction, contains eleven chapters on Highway Drug Interdiction.



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