Narcotics Evidence – What Happens To It?

Narcotics Evidence


Narcotics officers spend a great deal of time conducting surveillance in some of the worst places imaginable, and they do it while enduring some pretty rough conditions. After all, it’s not pleasant sitting in a patch of poison ivy during a rainstorm while watching a bad guy conducting his business. And, the narcotics officers never know if they’ll be discovered, which could lead to a violent confrontation, possibly even a shootout.

Once the surveillance is over, and officers have established the necessary probable cause for obtaining a search warrant, it’s time to locate and seize the evidence. Tactical teams rehearse for this moment over and over again.


Entry team serving a search warrant


Bale (or brick) of marijuana discovered during a search 


Twenty-five pounds of freshly harvested marijuana

Back at the police department, officers deposit evidence, such as narcotics, into an evidence safe. Once the items have been placed into the opening on the top of the safe they cannot be removed except by the property room supervisor.

Safes, like the one pictured below, are used during the nighttime hours when the property room officers are off duty. Each morning the property room officers remove the items, catalogue them, and place them into the property warehouse, or other storage facility. Some evidence rooms are huge, like the warehouses in stores like Target,Walmart, and Lowes.


Evidence safe


Property room supervisor weighing a bag of marijuana. No one has access to the evidence except the officers who work inside. If officers need a piece of evidence, they must sign for it much like you would do when checking out a library book.


Scales for weighing evidence. The weight is recorded on the yellow evidence tag along with other pertinent case information.

Evidence waiting to be catalogued

After a drug case has made its way though the courts, the drugs are destroyed.


Device used for destroying (burning) narcotics

Photos below are of officers destroying confiscated marijuana.


26 replies
  1. Auntieamy71
    Auntieamy71 says:


    I was just thinking about burning all that evidence. Better stand way away from it.

    And….just looking at your post to Peg, if I send you my copy of your new book, you’ll sign it? Where do I send it! 😉 Let me know at

  2. Lee Lofland
    Lee Lofland says:

    SweetieZ – I’ll be doing a blog on other drugs in the very near future.

    Some of the photos are quite new, some were from back when I was working, and others I “borrow” from the internet. Most of the pictures were taken during the past twelve months, and either I took them, or a police officer from somewhere in the country took them and sent them to me. A lot of these photographs were left over from when I did the research for my book. Talk about fun research!

  3. SweetieZ
    SweetieZ says:

    So other then light bills and foot trails, how do catch the pill pushers ? Or did you concentrate on pot ?

    Just curious, how do you get all these photos. Are they all from when you worked or do you take new ones ?

    Joyce, those stolen steaks you mentioned yesterday ? They had some high class munchies was my guess !

  4. J Carson Black
    J Carson Black says:

    But Lee, what if he was Johnny Appleseed? You guys are so hard-nosed.

    Seriously, good leg work–literally. When was this?

  5. Lee Lofland
    Lee Lofland says:

    I posted that photo two days in a row just to see if anyone noticed.

    Jake, that stuff was part of a really large crop. It was a pretty impressive operation. I found it after seeing a guy walk out of a thick, wooded area. He just looked out of place, so I went back the next day and walked, and walked, and walked, and walked until I found the plants.

  6. Lee Lofland
    Lee Lofland says:

    She’s been here for five minutes and had already started the donut jokes. Geez…

    Peg – Actually, yes, many, many times. 🙂
    Oh, I received the book today. I’ll sign it and send it back to you tomorrow.

  7. Lee Lofland
    Lee Lofland says:

    Jake – I see you’re slumming today. Thanks for coming by. Hey, this is a switch, you visiting my blog instead of the other way around.

    I worked in the South. We went for M&Ms and pickled pigs feet.

  8. J Carson Black
    J Carson Black says:

    I’m sure that the officers burning all that stuff are trying their level best not to breathe deeply. Otherwise, there’d be a run on Cheese Doodles and Ring Dings at the local Quik Mart.

  9. Rhonda Lane
    Rhonda Lane says:

    With all that plant material, that squad car could almost go in the Rose Parade. 😉

    Our local PD has an almost new HQ that I got to tour during its open house a few years ago. The evidence room is monitored by closed circuit cameras, as is any access to it. The chain-of-evidence includes a video record.

  10. Terry
    Terry says:

    I wouldn’t say the facility is ‘nice’ — but it’s BIG. 🙂 Not air-conditioned except for a few vital areas. They tried to take care of the heat problem (this is Central Florida) by adding extra insulation to the roof, which cut out most of the light. Very well organized, though. And they’re trying to upgrade it by getting the kinds of shelving units that they can crank back and forth which would increase usable space by 40% because they wouldn’t need all the aisles–they have them in the firearms vault, and instead of needing 4 aisles, they have one, which moves as needed by moving the shelving units.

    Their biggest issue, according to the manager, is getting the stuff they no longer need OUT to make room for the constant influx.

  11. ramona
    ramona says:

    I did a double take at that trooper car with the pot plants strewn across the back windshield. At first glance, it looked like the plants were growing there. I guess that would be one way to get criminals to stop when you tell them to!

  12. Joyce Tremel
    Joyce Tremel says:

    Where I work, the evidence (not just drugs–all evidence) gets put in lockers that kind of look like school lockers. Once the door is shut, no one can open it again. We have one detective who handles all the evidence–he’s the only one with a key. He retrieves the evidence from the back of the lockers. There is also a room for long term evidence.

  13. Lee Lofland
    Lee Lofland says:

    Terry – Please keep in mind that not all departments are fortunate enough to have such nice facilities. There are still many, many departments where the officers still keep evidence in their personal lockers, drugs included. Other small departments may even be forced to utilize a closet for their evidence storage.

    I can think of one particular department that stores some evidence (bicycles, etc.) in a building they share with the city street department. The evidence sits next to a truck that’s used for clearing sewer stoppages.

    Smaller departments deal with large quantities of drugs in other ways.

  14. Terry
    Terry says:

    Thanks for the clarification. Yes, folks do have to go into the drug rooms, but they don’t work inside. Stuff is received in the main ‘office’ side of the building, computerized, etc., etc. Then it’s stored in the appropriate spot. And security is tight. One of our guides worked there, but he wasn’t a sworn officer and didn’t have a key to the drug or firearms room. And once you’re in, you need a apecial “key” to get out — there’s a thousand pound magnet holding the door shut.

  15. Lee Lofland
    Lee Lofland says:

    Terry – I guess I should have been more specific. The evidence safe in the picture is used during the nighttime hours when the property room folks are off duty. It’s to safeguard evidence until those officers come in the next day. Then, they remove the evidence from the safe, take it inside the property room, catalogue it, and then store it in the appropriate warehouse or storage room.

    The police department featured in the above photos is a very large department and they have an evidence warehouse that’s quite similar to those found in big box stores, such as Walmart and Target. And, yes, they do store their drugs and chemicals separately from the other non-toxic evidence. However, someone still has to weigh and catalogue everything. So, it is necessary to be in the room with the drugs at some point. I’m sure you didn’t see the entire process and procedures during your brief tour, but it’s quite common in the business. I spent a few days with these guys, and they run a very tight ship. Very professional.

    We worked around this stuff for years and I can’t recall anyone ever getting sick. Might explain my poor memory, though.

  16. Terry
    Terry says:

    Evidence safe? We toured the OCSO evidence WAREHOUSE where they have separate ROOMS for drugs and firearms. And nobody works IN the room with the drugs — make’s ’em sick. Even on our short tour, one woman had to leave after about 2 minutes. Heady stuff. 10 duffel bags full of bricks of marijuana from one heist.

    But yes, everything is locked up — you have to pass through 3 sets of doors just to get into the facility, and only the people working inside the building can get to the evidence storage areas.

    Although I covered more than drugs, I blogged about it on March 20th. Not sure this blog site takes html — if it comes through as code, sorry.

    So, Joyce is blogging on tax day?

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