The Office of the Special Narcotics Prosecutor (SNP) investigates and prosecutes more than 3,000 arrests annually and has jurisdiction over felony narcotics crimes in the five boroughs of New York City. Additionally, SNP works to reduce the demand for narcotics by raising public awareness and facilitating treatment for addicted offenders. The office is organized as follows:
The Special Narcotics Prosecutor directs the policies and management of the office. The executive staff, composed of veteran attorneys and other professionals, assists in overseeing investigation and prosecution of national and international drug trafficking organizations, money laundering operations and violent drug gangs doing business in New York City neighborhoods. Additionally, SNP runs programs that offer treatment instead of prison to hundreds of addicted defendants every year.
The Investigations Division focuses on complex, high-level narcotics organizations and seizing narcotics proceeds. It is composed of the Special Investigations Bureau, the Prescription Drug Investigation Unit, the Narcotics Gang Unit, the Money Laundering and Financial Investigations Unit, and Forfeiture Investigations.
Special Investigations Bureau
The Special Investigations Bureau (SIB) targets major narcotics trafficking organizations importing and distributing multi-kilogram quantities of drugs, such as cocaine and heroin. The activities of these criminal enterprises generally extend beyond county, state and international borders. SIB prosecutors work with the Drug Enforcement Administration, the New York City Police Department, the New York State Police, the New York Drug Enforcement Task Force, the New York Organized Crime Drug Enforcement Strike Force, U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement and other local, state, federal and foreign law enforcement.
Each year, the division launches more than 100 investigations targeting a wide range of criminal activity, including drug trafficking, push-in robberies, weapons trafficking and money laundering. SIB oversees the office’s wiretap investigations and initiates civil actions to forfeit narcotics proceeds.
Prescription Drug Investigation Unit
Alarming rates of prescription drug abuse and related crime has led SNP to form the Prescription Drug Investigation Unit. The unit, created in 2011, is designed to combat the proliferation of prescription narcotics on the black market by investigating and prosecuting the criminal distribution of these drugs. Prosecutions target a range of subjects, from members of street level drug organizations to doctors and pharmacists engaged in the criminal sale of prescriptions or pills. Armed robberies of pharmacies, home invasions and other violent crimes are also associated with prescription drug diversion.
Heroin Interdiction Team
The resurgence of heroin throughout New York State prompted SNP to create the Heroin Interdiction Team (HIT) in late 2014. HIT is tasked with combating the flow of heroin to the area surrounding New York City, particularly upstate counties. Working with a dedicated team of New York State troopers, DEA agents, NYPD officers and other law enforcement officials, HIT focuses on cooperating with local prosecutors and law enforcement to share intelligence and resources to take down the organizations responsible for spreading heroin from the mills in New York City to New York State as a whole.
Narcotics Gang Unit
The Narcotics Gang Unit was established in 2002 and concentrates on violent neighborhood groups, robbery crews, and weapons traffickers committing drug-related criminal activity across the city. The unit works closely with detectives from NYPD’s Narcotics Division and members of the New York Drug Enforcement Task Force’s REDRUM Unit. Since its inception, the unit has prosecuted armed robbery, kidnapping, burglary, weapons possession and illegal firearms sales, in addition to narcotics trafficking.
Money Laundering and Financial Investigations Unit
By following the money trail, the Money Laundering and Financial Investigations Unit builds cases against narcotics trafficking organizations for financial crimes. Formed in 2001, the unit aims to prevent foreign drug trafficking organizations from repatriating drug proceeds through smuggling and use of the financial system and to prevent local drug organizations from benefiting from illicit profits. Cases are generated from multiple sources, including intelligence developed during narcotics-related investigations.
Established 25 years ago, the Forfeiture Investigations Unit evaluates felony drug prosecutions for potential civil litigation to recover the proceeds of narcotics crimes. The unit works closely with law enforcement on the federal, state and local levels in identifying criminal assets to deprive narcotics traffickers and money-laundering groups of the profits of criminality. The unit has a comprehensive set of systems in place to track participation in investigations resulting in forfeiture actions.
Trial Division Assistant District Attorneys handle the bulk of the drug felony arrests referred to the office for prosecution. The division, which contains two trial bureaus, coordinates short-term investigations focusing on mid-sized drug organizations and street-level drug groups, and it participates in specialized initiatives targeting drug activity in the city's public housing complexes and narcotics sales over the Internet.
Each of the office’s two trial bureaus is headed by a Bureau Chief and Deputy Bureau Chiefs who supervise assistants as they provide legal advice and draw up court orders, including search and arrest warrants on a 24-hour basis. Assistant District Attorneys work closely with the NYPD’s Narcotics Division, the New York Drug Enforcement Task Force, the New York State Police and the SNP Investigators Unit.
ALTERNATIVE SENTENCING DIVISION
For addicted criminal offenders, an effective drug treatment program can mean the difference between repeated terms of imprisonment and the ability to lead a productive, law-abiding life. Yet it is not enough to simply conquer addiction. To begin anew, recovering drug users require skills gained through academic and vocational training, along with supportive counseling. SNP’s Alternative Sentencing Division has successfully worked with thousands of addicted criminal defendants for the past 20 years to provide them with the tools they need to permanently close the door on crime and dependence.
Paths to Recovery
Through SNP’s pioneering Drug Treatment Alternatives to Prison programs, highly experienced staff members evaluate offenders to identify those who are likely to reap the benefits of treatment. Eligible candidates are given the opportunity to enter an appropriate program, most often at a long-term residential facility, instead of going to prison. Beginning in October 2009, new legislation allowed judges to place defendants in court-sponsored diversion programs. Although a judge determines which addicted felony offenders qualify for these programs, SNP continues to offer its expertise in screening and monitoring.
When offenders enter treatment, their sentences are deferred. Upon successful completion, charges may be dismissed. If an offender fails to abide by the rules of a program, they face a sanction. If they commit a new crime, their original prison sentence may be imposed. Since the inception of the division, more than 2,000 offenders have been placed into treatment.
The Special Narcotics Investigators Unit works with Assistant District Attorneys and federal, state and local law enforcement agencies in combating drug activity throughout the five boroughs of New York City and beyond. Created in 1992, the unit is staffed by highly experienced law enforcement veterans, many with decades of prior experience with the NYPD’s Narcotics Division and the New York Drug Enforcement Task Force. Investigators develop cases independently and work jointly with law enforcement agencies in large-scale narcotics and money laundering investigations that extend beyond county, state and international borders.
With the emergence of the epidemic of opioid abuse and trafficking, members of the Investigators Unit have developed expertise in investigating cases involving prescription drug diversion and large scale heroin manufacturing and distribution. Specially assigned investigators also target narcotics trafficking over the Internet, using every available technique, from cutting-edge technology to dogged surveillance work.
A Chief Investigator oversees activities of the investigators and monitors all investigation-related expenditures.
NYPD Special Narcotics Prosecutor's Unit
The New York City Police Department has assigned a team of detectives to the office since 1972. The NYPD's Special Narcotics Prosecutor's Unit is under the command of a senior lieutenant who serves as a liaison between SNP and the NYPD’s Criminal Enterprise Division. Expert at tracking, safekeeping and presentation of electronically recorded evidence, the detectives also provide support on search warrant investigations and maintain citywide repositories for electronically recorded evidence and SNP search warrants.
The Search Warrant Unit prepares search warrants and affidavits and expedites requests through SNP. The detectives keep track of all confiscated evidence and maintain a database on arrests and seizures resulting from the execution of search warrants. The unit also educates new investigators on search warrant procedures.
The Technical Unit tracks and controls “chain of custody” for electronic media evidence and makes certain that all audio/video evidence is secure. The unit is responsible for the creation and testimony of grand jury/trial wiretap composite recordings and processes digital photographic evidence as well as data evidence.
Legal Training Unit
For more than 30 years, SNP’s Legal Training Unit has had a reputation of excellence through the nation. Experienced staff members provide lectures and professional enhancement to all sectors of the criminal justice system in the city, state and across the nation. The Legal Training Unit develops and implements the professional training curriculum offered to Assistant District Attorneys. Topics include investigatory and prosecutorial techniques, legal procedures, changes in the law, and effective approaches in the prosecution of felony narcotic and related crimes.
The training curriculum complies with the regulations and guidelines of the New York State Mandatory Continuing Legal Education program, and all courses are open to prosecutors from the city’s District Attorneys’ Offices and other offices in the state. The office has been an accredited provider of the State’s Continuing Legal Education Program since 2000.
Over the past decade, SNP has devoted a portion of its resources to training programs offered to hundreds of local and federal enforcement and criminal justice personnel in New York and other areas of the country.
The Public Information Unit responds to inquiries from members of the media, government agencies, advocacy groups and the general public. It disseminates information on the status of cases, legal decisions, legislative action, citywide drug trafficking trends and the results of joint enforcement efforts. Additionally, the unit prepares quarterly and annual reports and serves as a liaison with foreign dignitaries and visiting law enforcement officials from around the country and overseas.
Members of the media and the general public can contact the unit at (212) 815-0525.
SNP is committed to enforcing drug laws that protect neighborhoods. Community participation is vital to this mission. By responding to community concerns, the office seeks to enhance the quality of life of all New Yorkers.
The Community Outreach Unit meets with community and religious leaders, block associations, the New York City Housing Authority and other groups to address local drug problems, while conferring regularly with NYPD officials to devise strategies to combat crime.
Once an investigation is completed and a drug organization is removed from a building or neighborhood, resources are devoted toward providing community support services. The office strives to maintain the gains by securing residents’ safety and improving living conditions in coordination with local agencies.
To further the office’s educational mission, experienced prosecutors offer lectures to schools and youth groups on topics ranging from drug laws and gang activity to alternatives to incarceration. For more information about our Community Outreach programs, call (212) 815-0454.
All agency fiscal activities including the production and submission of funding requests to federal, state and city funding agencies as well as the monitoring of expenditures fall under the responsibility of the Fiscal Unit. To that end, the unit assesses and approves purchases and payment vouchers and the disbursement of funds, such as petty cash and payroll coordination; enforces fiscal policy; conducts internal audits; and reviews and approves agency procurements.
The Personnel Unit oversees and implements procedures related to the assignment or transfer of Assistant District Attorneys from the office of the five county District Attorneys and the recruitment of managerial, administrative and clerical personnel. Unit staff participates in planning, developing and executing employee programs and policies for all staff. The unit disseminates information on mandatory programs and policies for all city agencies and monitors implementation of procedures; provides facts on citywide policies and labor relations issues; and maintains time and leave records for all staff. The unit is responsible for the biweekly distribution of paychecks and serves as liaison with the citywide payroll management system.
SNP accepts applications for support staff positions, including paralegals, stenographers, secretaries, clerks, interpreters, technology professionals and investigators. Interested applicants can contact the Personnel Office at (212) 815-0515.
Information Technology (IT) develops, establishes and administers SNP’s computer and telecommunication systems. The unit identifies needs and puts in place systems that effectively merge technology with office processes, and provides a variety of case-related services.
Digital Forensics and Litigation Support provides pre-trial and in-court technology support, including recovery and examination of evidence from electronic devices, trial exhibit preparation and presentation. Application Development and Support handles computer software development, maintenance and support. Technical Support guides staff in using electronic devices and addresses technical problems. Records Management files, registers and maintains a record of closed and bench warranted case files and processes parole requests. IT Infrastructure Support oversees servers, computers, networks, computer storage, email and data backup maintenance and support. Case Information captures and tracks data pertaining to all cases prosecuted by the office, from arrest to disposition.
The unit prepares regular reports and ad hoc reports on narcotics activities, trends, and statistical analyses. Unit staff is assigned to the Trial Division to coordinate data capture and provide additional support.
Criminal and Investigative Analysts
Analysts are instrumental to all stages of investigation and prosecution, using the most current technology available to enhance a case from its inception through trial. Evidence from various sources is analyzed, including telephone communication carriers, social media sources, Treasury Department data and prescription drug-related data. Analysts prepare and process subpoenas, provide background searches using public records and law enforcement-specific databases, prepare investigative reports, and act as points of contact for law enforcement. During the presentation of a case, analysts prepare trial exhibits and testify in the grand jury and at trial.
Trial Preparation Assistants (TPAs)
Trial Preparation Assistants (TPAs) are assigned to the Investigations Division, the Trial Division, Part N, and the Alternative Sentencing Division. Trial Division and Investigation Division TPAs track cases, maintain case records, gather reports and legal papers required by Assistant District Attorneys, handle arrangements when prisoners have to be produced in court and help prosecutors prepare for grand jury and trial presentations. Alternative Sentencing Bureau TPAs interview defendants who are diverted to treatment and track their progress. Part N TPAs assist in tracking plea offers, grand jury actions and case dispositions that take place in the Part.
The unit administers the return of fugitives apprehended or in custody in other jurisdictions and in foreign countries that have extradition treaties with the United States.
Grand Jury Reporters
Grand Jury Reporters record, produce and maintain transcripts of confidential testimony presented before the grand juries.
Interpretation and Translation Services
The unit interprets and translates for non-English speaking witnesses in debriefings with investigators and Assistant District Attorneys and during testimony before the grand jury; provides written translation and transcription services for evidentiary consent and wiretap recordings that contain dialogue in a foreign language; and translates foreign-language documents.
The Operations Unit is responsible for office maintenance, reproduction of documents, mail delivery, messenger services, housekeeping requests, office supply inventory and disbursement.