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Use of special investigative techniques


As well as the roles of firearm tracing and the ballistic matching, special investigative techniques are frequently indispensable in gathering information and intelligence about the activities of an organised criminal group, including in relation to firearms trafficking.

Special investigative techniques are applied by competent judicial, prosecuting and investigating authorities in the context of criminal investigations for the purpose of detecting and investigating complex criminality in order to gather information in such a way as not to alert the target persons. This Module only looks at firearms-specific aspects related to the use of special investigative techniques, while a more in-depth analysis on special investigative techniques can be found in the E4J University Module Series Organized Crime Module 8 and includes:

  • Physical and electronic surveillance;
  • Controlled delivery;
  • Undercover operations;
  • Financial analysis;
  • Use of informants.

The use of special investigative techniques can contribute to:

  • The collection of information that will serve as base to initiate an investigation, or will enhance an existing investigation;
  • The identification of the structure and membership of those involved in the criminal activity;
  • The identification of firearms being used in the offence;
  • The identification of methods used to purchase, transport, conceal, store and traffic the firearms;
  • The identification of associated profits and support to subsequent financial crime investigations;
  • The location of individuals for surveillance purposes;
  • The identification of locations and individuals which would benefit the investigation most in employing electronic interception of private communications;
  • Making controlled purchases of firearms for intelligence, investigative and prosecution purposes;
  • The provision of information to support search warrants, interception of private communications, etc.;
  • The introduction of undercover officer(s) as required;
  • The support of undercover officer(s) as required; and
  • The provision of testimony in court as required.
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