The following is adapted from an actual state criminal case involving a confidential informant (C.I., a/k/a "rat") who was arrested and agreed to cooperate with the drug squad in order to avoid prosecution. The C.I., a medical marijuana patient and caregiver, got in trouble over the number of plants she was growing. She was told that she would have to participate in five successful controlled buys in order to avoid going to jail.
The passage is a paraphrase of testimony given by a county narcotics agent at a preliminary exam. A preliminary exam is a hearing in a lower court where a magistrate determines whether probable cause exists such that a defendant can be bound over, or held for trial. Remember that probable cause is a reasonable basis, given the totality of the circumstances, that a crime has been committed.
The passage describes, in the agent's words under oath in a court proceeding, what happened from the time the CI showed up to perform the controlled buy until the time the CI completed the buy and the evidence (a small bag of herb) was being processed. There's not a ton of information but I thought it was an interesting look at investigatory technique.
Ms. Pretzel met me at State Police Post 711. I strip searched her and no money or drugs were found. I then gave her $200 in pre-recorded buy funds. At that point, the rest of the team was briefed on the controlled buy before I drove her to the house located at 7499 Moher Street in an unmarked police vehicle. She got out of the car, knocked on the door on the north side of the residence, and was let inside. A short time later Ms. Pretzel exited the building and walked directly back to the passenger side of the squad car. She got in and I drove away from the area. At that point she handed me a paper bag and advised me that the marijuana was inside. I took her back to the Post 711, where I again strip searched her and no money or drugs were found on her person. I opened the bag, which contained what I believed to be marijuana that the confidential informant had just purchased. I field tested the substance and it did field test positive for marijuana.
On the basis of this buy, the officer wrote a search warrant and affidavit. He swore to it by telephone and the judge signed the warrant. The building was searched and now the owner of the building is being charged.
Informants are one of the most important tools law enforcement has and so LE has a well-developed skill for intimidating and compelling defendants to cooperate in this way. The prosecution does its part by attempting to charge priority defendants as harshly as possible.