(KMOV.com) -- Undercover cops and SWAT teams, their work is intense and dangerous. News 4 Investigates takes you inside the St. Louis County Drug Unit for a rare look at how it's fighting the war on drugs.
The raid happened so quickly. The News 4 Investigates Team reached the target, were waved to a safe position, and then officers blast down the door.
The suspect, who has a history of drug and weapons convictions, is on federal parole and is the target of a heroin investigation.
Inside the tactical team’s armored vehicle, during a severe thunderstorm, they reviewed the safety plan, emphasized different scenarios and what the officers could expect.
“We don't plan on throwing a flash bang, but when we get inside, if it gets heated, we might, so just be mindful of the windows.”
The operation is based on information discovered by an officer who worked undercover, and collected the evidence needed to get warrants. The warrants allowed the drug unit and SWAT team to raid a home, and search for drugs and the suspect.
The drug investigations often begin with tips from informants. Some are residents who see the illegal activity, and some informants are criminals facing charges. The officers use detailed databases to compare their findings with other crime reports. They then look for trends and crime patterns that can be linked to a single suspect or group, creating the strongest cases possible.
This case reflects a dramatic change in the priorities of the county drug unit. In just the last two years, the St. Louis County Police Department has cut marijuana arrests by seventy-two percent, while more than doubling the number of arrests for heroin.