A day in the life of
an undercover drug agent

[SEPT. 9, 2000]  The lifestyle of an undercover agent takes them into the path of danger, excitement and meeting a great diversity of people.

What would it be like to have an important, challenging job where you couldn’t tell anyone what you did for a living?  You would have to really believe in what you did and have an above-average resolve to always hold on to your own identity.  The officer interviewed for this article has all that.  For obvious reasons we can’t reveal his name.  We can only say that he and his work are important to our community.


The agent works behind the scenes under auspices of the Central Illinois Enforcement Group, commonly known as the Drug Task Force.  Only last month it was his concerted efforts with the assistance of other agents that led to warrants being issued for the arrests of four individuals.  The Lincoln City Police and Logan County Sheriff’s departments then made a sweep of criminal drug arrests for “possession with intent to deliver.”

It took him eight months to gather enough evidence for warrants to be issued.  While time consuming, this means of arrest by warrant provides the most solid means of getting a conviction against persons involved in this type of criminal activity.

Most of the agent’s time is spent working cases in Lincoln and Logan County.  It starts with a lead.  He builds sources and sets up surveillance of drug houses.  “We may bring an officer from another area and introduce him in,” he says.  “We work with Jacksonville, Springfield, and other areas; sometimes we might bring a guy down from Chicago.”  The goal in each case is to build probable cause in order to get warrants.  “We follow the law,” he emphasized. “We want to build strong cases.”


Keeping the undercover agents’ identity unknown in covert operations is no less than challenging.  It also adds an element of risk to the job.  There’s the "somebody might know you" problem: “people knowing people you grew up with,” the task force agent says.  Then there’s the "remember who you’re supposed to be" issue. “We’re part-time bad guys,” he stresses. “I have to remember I’m not a cop when I’m out undercover and not react like one, especially when I see things I normally wouldn’t find acceptable.”  “You have to remember who you are and who you are supposed to be including when you go home at night. I have to remember to check the attitude at the door or I catch myself talking like I don’t really talk, using bad language or having a bad attitude,” he explains.


[to top of second column]



Not only is the job challenging from the above perspective, but the hours are demanding as well.  Because as the agent explains, “I may be called out to work other counties, then I’ll also have to go there and testify in court. I’ll often put in 12-16-hour days.”

Beyond working cases, officers often work overtime scouting the countryside as part of the federally supported "Cash Crop Program."  This activity offers an opportunity for officers who normally work independently to intermingle a bit. “It’s a neat experience to work with the guys,” he exclaims. They look for fields of marijuana and either burn them on site or if close enough, take it to be burned at the state burn pit in Pawnee.  This is one of the proactive methods of dealing with drug control. 

In addition to drug stings, it has proven effective for the task force to provide services in other areas of law enforcement.  Due to the nature of their covert operations they are quite often privy to information needed to prosecute other crimes.  Undercover surveillance and covert operations often lend additional support for investigating burglaries and other crimes, but mostly the task force deals with drugs.

So, with no public credit for public duty, unpleasant and often dangerous situations, and long hours, where’s the glory that keeps this guy going?  Our local agent grew up in a small town with the strength of community and a clear sense of right and wrong, especially when it comes to drugs.  In speaking with him, it became apparent that those deeply ingrained values carry him in what he does today.

 If you haven’t thought about the people who are behind the scenes in our local law enforcement and you appreciate what this agent and our local law enforcement agencies are doing, take a moment to write a few letters.

City of Lincoln Police Department

Attention: Chief Richard Ludolph

911 Pekin St.

Lincoln, IL 62656


Logan County Sheriff’s Department

Attention: Sheriff Tony Solomon

Same address as above


Lincoln City Council

Attention: Mayor Joan Ritter

City Hall

Lincoln, IL 62656


Logan County Board


Lincoln, IL 62656