DEA officials introduced their Tip411 anonymous texting tip line that allows anyone with a cell phone to report drug trafficking, money laundering or related suspicious activity directly to a DEA agent.
“Through the Tip411 service, we are strengthening our partnership with the community whose members want to rid their neighborhoods of drug traffickers,” said Joseph Arabit, special agent in charge of the DEA’s El Paso division.
Texts with the keyword DEA and the relevant information can be sent to the number 847411. DEA officials said the technology used, powered by a company called Citizen Observer, will remove any identifying information before forwarding the tip to the DEA.
The service also allows agents to follow up with the tip’s sender without knowing the tipster’s identity.
DEA spokeswoman Special Agent Diana Apodaca said the idea for the texting service came from other law enforcement agencies around the country, including police departments in San Francisco and Detroit, that have used similar programs successfully.
Apodaca said that in the future, tipsters with photos of suspects or suspicious activity will be directed by agents to the DEA El Paso website where they can upload the photos, or send longer tips by e-mail, all anonymously.
In early 2011, a feature will be added to the Tip411 program in which tipsters can send photos directly from their cell phones, Apodaca said.If agents receive a tip that doesn’t concern their agency, Apodaca said, that tip will be forwarded to the appropriate law enforcement agency.
“We hope it’s successful,” Apodaca said.
The program is being advertised on 10 digital billboards throughout the area, officials said.
Adriana M. Chávez may be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org