Special Investigations Unit (SIU)

The Special Investigations Unit, or SIU, is a unique, highly trained and skilled narcotics investigation unit inside the Sheriff's Office. Primarily tasked with enforcing state drug laws, SIU team members are experts in undercover surveillance and are frequently called in to assist with other types of investigations and operations critical to public safety and the welfare of residents in Multnomah County, such as, cases dealing with homicide, corruption, prostitution and gambling. Because of their specialized training and experience, they're also often called upon to act as a tactical unit to execute high risk search and arrest warrants.

THE DRUG CULTURE IN MULTNOMAH COUNTY


Multnomah County is located along the I-5 corridor, a highway designated by the National Drug Intelligence Center as one of the primary transportation routes for narcotics trafficking with the majority of all methamphetamine, heroin, and cocaine originating from Mexican Drug Trafficking Organizations (DTOs). The East Multnomah County Gang Enforcement Team (EMGET) report an increase in gang violence tied to the distribution of illegal narcotics, as local gangs have established contacts with other organizations and Mexican DTOs including:

  • Bloods gang with Mongols outlaw motorcycle gang
  • Crips gang with Nortenos
  • Florencia 13 gang with Surenos cartel

Statistics show that around 90% of all crimes in our community can be attributed to some type of dangerous drugs. The Oregon State Medical Examiner reports a 27% increase in drug-related deaths in Multnomah County between 2009 and 2011.

When children are found at drug manufacturing sites, they may have been exposed to hazardous chemicals and the other dangers associated with illegal activity. These are cases of severe child abuse and neglect.

HOW THE UNIT OPERATES


The Special Investigations Unit is a full-time team consisting of one Sergeant, four Deputies (Investigators), one Investigative Technician and one Narcotics K-9 member.The unit's primary goal is to operate undercover in order to build cases against drug trafficking organizations in the area. Information is received from a variety of sources including anonymous tips, spontaneous and developed informants, leads subsequent to investigations of other crimes and joint operations with partner agencies, such as the Portland Police Bureau.

Cases are developed by identifying sellers and suppliers and following leads up the heirarchy as far as possible through personal surveillance, electronic research, undercover drug buys, vehicle trackers and every other available law enforcement tactic. Where do they live? What do they drive? Who do they interact with? Who's selling what and from where are they getting it? Where's the money?

Investigative emphasis is placed on narcotics distributors who are suppliers to street level dealers, as well as suppliers to other distributors which are referred to as mid to upper-mid level traffickers.

Since operations are undercover, the team has become expert at avoiding detection until it's time for a bust, despite criminal counter-surveillance and coordination efforts that are constantly increasing in sophistication.