How to Report Illegal Drug Activity

Three Methods:Making a ReportDetermining Whether There is Illegal ActivityKnowing Why You Should Speak Up

If you suspect that there is illegal drug activity in your neighborhood, you are right to be concerned. Drug activity can lead to increased violence and more crimes. Even though you are concerned, you might also be confused or worried about how to safely report the activity. Fortunately, most cities have made the process non-intimidating. You can even keep your identity anonymous. There are several steps you can take if you are aware of illegal drug activity.

Method 1
Making a Report

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    Collect the necessary information. If you suspect that there is illegal drug activity occurring in your area, you will want to make a report with the proper authorities. First, make sure that you have written down all of the information that you will need. You want to make sure that your report will be detailed and accurate, so that it will be useful to officials.[1]
    • Make sure that you are able to provide the exact address of the location where you suspect drug activity is happening. If you know the full names of the people who live there, provide that information, too.
    • If you see a car connected with the drug-related activity, take note of the license plate. You should also write down when the car arrives, how long it remains at the address, and how frequently it appears.
    • You should also tell the authorities if you see small packages being exchanged. These could be either drugs or money.
    • Note patterns, but also notice if those patterns change. Don't assume that the authorities are aware of any changes--you can always update your report as necessary.[2]
    • You will also want to point out anything else specific you know. Are there children living there? Are there dogs on the property? Is there a specific time of day where the activity most often occurs? Make notes of anything you think might be relevant.
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    Contact local resources. Your first step should be to contact the police department nearest you. If you feel unsafe, or feel that something dangerous is presently happening, call 911 immediately. If you do not see immediate danger, you can call the non-emergency police phone number for your local precinct.[3]
    • Ask the person asking the phone who you can speak to about reporting drug-related activity. It is possible a clerk may take your report and pass it along to the appropriate department. If you would feel more comfortable, you can ask to be connected to an officer who handles drug related crimes.
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    Find national agencies. Often, a federal law enforcement agency will get involved if there is significant illegal drug activity. If you do not feel that your local agency is equipped to deal with the situation, you can reach out to a national agency. Two appropriate agencies to contact are the DOJ (Department of Justice) and the DEA (Drug Enforcement Administration).[4]
    • Use a hotline or online form. Both the DEA and DOJ have phone numbers and websites you can use to report illegal drug activity.[5]
    • If you live in a large city, it is likely that a federal agency will have a local office near you. You can phone that office to report your information.
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    Stay anonymous. Drug activity is often associated with violence and intimidation. It makes sense that you might want to stay anonymous when reporting a tip. Law enforcement agencies are perfectly happy to take your information about a possible crime without needing to know your name.[6]
    • When making a report, you might be asked to provide your personal information. However, this is completely voluntary. If you want to stay anonymous, you can.

Method 2
Determining Whether There is Illegal Activity

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    Notice physical evidence. If you suspect illegal drug activity in your area, you will want to take note of certain signs. There are many indicators that can help you figure out if there is a possible crime occurring. Take note of specific things that you see happening near the address where you suspect there are drugs.[7]
    • Look for shoes with the shoelaces tied together and hung over telephone/power wires. This is a signal that a drug house is nearby.
    • Look for large amounts of plastic bags in the yard or on the porch of the house in questions.
    • A porch light that is on at odd hours of the day or night is another possible indicator of drug related activity.
    • If a house is occupied, but the blinds or shades are always drawn, this is another possible sign that something illegal is happening.
    • Make a note if you see people arriving at the house/building regularly for very short periods of time. It does not take long for drug deals to be completed.
    • Chemical odors are a sign that drugs are actually being manufactured on the premises. You should be aware of any strange strong smells that come from the suspected residence.[8]
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    Be aware of suspicious behavior. You can keep an eye out for people acting in certain ways. For example, keep your eye out for large numbers of people visiting the house in question for brief periods of time. Another possible suspicious behavior is a person sitting in a car for extended periods of time while pedestrians approach him.
    • Also be on the lookout for people standing on corners and talking to others down the street on a two-way radio.
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    Know which drugs are typically sold. When trying to determine whether there is drug related activity in your area, it is useful to know which drugs are most common in your city. This can help you know some more specific things to look for. For example, if methamphetamine is a big problem, you can learn how to spot a meth lab. Your local police department should be able to tell you which drugs are most commonly sold in your area.[9]
    • Meth is sold in small baggies. Many meth deals occur late at night. Users often suffer from lack of sleep, and this may be reflected in their appearance.
    • Crack is another common street drug, and is often found in areas with gang activity. Crack is often smoked from a small glass pipe, so make sure to pay attention if you see those lying around.
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    Talk to your neighbors. If you have a neighborhood watch, you should voice your concerns to the organizers of that group. If you don't have a formal neighborhood patrol, you can ask neighbors that you know if they have noticed anything strange. Make sure not to make unfounded accusations.[10]
    • You do not have to use specifics when asking your neighbors if they have noticed any signs of drug related activity. You can ask vague questions and still receive some information.

Method 3
Knowing Why You Should Speak Up

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    Revitalize your neighborhood. When an area is known for a lot of drug-related activity, many residents choose to move out. Small businesses also tend to close, move, or have reduced hours. If you provide important information to law enforcement, you may be able to prevent this from happening in your neighborhood.[11]
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    Reduce crime. Violence and robberies are often connected to drugs. If you are able to remove drug related activity from your neighborhood, chances are good that you will see a reduction in the overall crime rate. Your neighborhood will be a safer and happier place.[12]
    • Ask your local police department for information about the crime rate in your area and how it relates to drugs. It is good to be aware of what is happening in your area.
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    Do your civic duty. In order to have a safe society, we all have to take responsibility for our areas. Part of fulfilling your responsibility is to report possible crimes. You are taking part in public safety, and helping to protect yourself and your neighbors.[13]
    • Remember to use caution when discussing your suspicions with others. You do not want to spread false information, nor do you want to draw unnecessary attention to yourself.


  • Use caution when discussing drug related activity. Use common sense and get the proper authorities involved if you suspect there is a problem.
  • Do not assume that someone is involved in illegal drug activity based on the person’s lifestyle choice, ethnicity, race, or economic level. Also, keep in mind that, just because someone seems odd, this does not mean that they’re involved in drugs.

Article Info

Categories: Recreational Drug Use