The Challenge of Drug Interdiction Operations

Daniel A. Lageman

Efficient vehicle drug inspection

19, April 2021 During an inspection of a vehicle for drugs or drug related items, LEOs will call for the support of a K9 unit to detect the presence of drugs in a vehicle. If detected, the LEO now has authority to physically inspect vehicle to identify the exact location of the drugs. This often requires the LEO to basically disassemble the interior of a vehicle to retrieve the drugs in question.
DRUG INTERDICTION OPERATION USING X-RAYS Police officer holding drug package
Ripping apart the interior of a vehicle is pretty laborious task and can take hours to complete for even the most experienced officers, depending on which part of the vehicle they need to see into. While many vehicles are manufactured with multiple cavities, some used for storage such as a trunk or center console, while others are a result of the vehicle design.

In addition to performance and safety, the automobile industry is also focused on saving weight. They do this by using lighter materials and avoiding solid structures. Most vehicle doors are constructed of thin metal skin and contain a lot of empty space. Another example is the vehicle's frame rails, which need to be strong enough to support the vehicle's weight, but light enough to be practical. That's why they routinely use a “square tube” type design which contains empty space that is commonly used to smuggle drugs. It's possible to cut an access hole in a vehicle's frame, stuff it with narcotics, and weld it shut.

There are people so skilled in cutting open vehicles and welding them shut, that it's almost impossible to see if a vehicle's frame had been modified by visual inspection alone, since the frame is still structurally sound and suffers no loss in its ability to support the vehicle. The same is true of body panels. There is an entire industry dedicated to fixing your dented doors and fenders to where they look better than when your vehicle was manufactured!
This is where Shield comes in
Having an X-ray system such as Shield to non-intrusively inspect different compartments and cavities within a vehicle greatly enhances the officer’s ability to locate and retrieve whatever they are looking for — giving officers get an "inside look" at the vehicle without having to rip it apart. It also increases safety by simultaneously detecting other hazards like needles, paraphernalia, knives, firearms, and more. Should officers identify drugs or weapons with the X-ray, they will still have to cut it open to retrieve it, but they won't have wasted valuable time cutting into a vehicle unnecessarily.

The Shield solution fills this capability gap perfectly. Because Shield can be used with both a tripod and on a slider, it enables easy scanning of an entire vehicle within minutes. The low cost and ease of use is a very attractive quality to LEOs engaged in drug interdiction operations.