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Catching Crack Dealers at Work

Catching dealers needs a mixture of enormous patience and nervous alertness. After several hours sitting in the back of an unmarked police car my legs are starting to tingle with inactivity. Around the corner an undercover police officer is waiting for the dealer he bought crack from yesterday to turn up. They have already talked by mobile phone and the dealer said that he would be about 10 minutes. That was nearly an hour ago. The detectives never relax. Will he show? Will he be armed? With a gun?

We are moments away from the operation being called off when the dealer appears and drives briskly through the area. A reconnaissance?

After a few minutes he reappears and the deal is done. You know that it would be quick but the action seems instantaneous as the eight man police team rush in to make the arrest. The undercover officer who has the most dangerous role leaves immediately and anonymously.

[These photographs have been digitally altered to conceal the identities of those concerned.]


Suddenly after hours of waiting the dealer arrives. As soon as the undercover officer has made the buy the rest of the team swoop. The dealer has already spat out one rock and they search his mouth for another.


With the suspect handcuffed and the evidence in hand the police calm down. They have the situation under control.


Arriving at the Police station the full enormity of his position starts to sink in to the suspect. Using undercover officers in this way results in a 100% conviction rate and the courts are particularly tough with crack dealers.


In the custody suite the Detective Inspector holds up the evidence while the suspect is being booked in the background. A rock may be worth only £20 on the street but he can expect several years in jail even for a first offence.


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