All signs of drug dealing in a neighborhood vary but they do have similar characteristics.
The first tell tale sign is an increase in traffic of a residence. The duration of a visitor or visitors will be approximately five to ten minutes. There will almost never be any one that comes out of the residence, always someone going in first. The traffic will not usually be conspicuous (such as the use of front door). A side door or going into the back yard is generally more proficient for drug dealers.
Crime does not generally increase in an area around a drug house because drug dealers manage that themselves. Any police presence increases the risk of being caught.
Look for large quantities of storage drums, milk cartons, or any other apparatus on the property that could be used to store liquids. This is characteristic of the a meth manufacturing lab since they need to store and mix large quantities of chemicals for their product.
Observe the garage to see if the door is ever opened. Look for windows that are blacked out or covered in plastic from the inside of the residence. Look for portable generators. Marijuana grows need to be sealed to regulate the environment of the plants and growers often run power around the clock to heat lamps and irrigation systems.
Surveillance systems. Just about all drug dealers have some sort of surveillance system, audio and visual. Now how practical is it to put a security camera on the front door of your residence? Do you honestly think that someone trying to break into your house is going to use the front door? And what would be the purpose of an audio surveillance system?
Lookouts. On the front porch or on the street corner. This is a drug dealers best alarm system. A lookout sees a police vehicle and gets on a cellular phone, acting as if making a call to some random person. Actually he or she is giving a warning to the people in the house.
What can you do about the problem? Documentation. Documentation. Documentation. When you contact your local law enforcement agency about the problem, you need to have specific information because this is a nationwide problem and there are not enough narcotics agents in any given city to handle the problem.
You want to provide all of, but not limited to, the following information if you want to see quick action:
1. How much traffic is in the residence (# of people, time of day/night, vehicle descriptions and license plate numbers). If you notice specific people, document their gender and race, type of vehicle, frequency and time/date.
2. Lookouts. How many, what corners do they stand on and what time of day, do they have cell phones, what do they do when police cars are on the street (make a phone call, walk to a different corner, scratch their head (it’s going to be the same thing every time).
3. Where do the people enter the residence (side door, back door, back yard, do they park out front or do they walk in from another part of the neighborhood)?
4. Is there surveillance and where is it located? Are there dogs on the property or inside the residence?
5. Information on the residents. How many, what race and gender, what kind of vehicles, do they come and go at set times or does it vary? Are there children or elderly people present? Have you seen firearms or other weapons? Do they get visits from other government officials (Probation or Parole Agents, social workers, etc.).
6. Have you seen specific transactions or events? Bags of white powder or green leafy substance being brought into or out of the residence, hand offs, domestic disturbances, lots of moving in the middle of the night?
Chances are good that your local law enforcement agency is already aware of the situation. By providing this valuable information, you are helping in the development or support of an investigation. The littlest detail can aid in discovery of a drug house, arrest of all suspected law violators, and ultimately adjudication and incarceration.