Investigative Units

Auto Theft Investigations and Stolen Vehicle Recovery

One of the statutory responsibilities of the DPS Investigation Division under Nevada Revised Statute 480.470 includes auto theft investigations and the recovery of stolen vehicles. While auto theft occurs in every part of the state, the Las Vegas area feels the biggest impact of auto theft. In the Las Vegas area, where auto thefts have become a profitable business, the DPS Investigation Division serves as a committed member of the Las Vegas Metropolitan Police Department’s VIPER Auto Theft Task Force. The auto theft investigations which VIPER conducts not only involve the identification and recovery of stolen vehicles, but also involve the disruption of criminal organizations making use of Las Vegas’ location along three major roadways and its population and tourism demographics to facilitate their criminal operations.

    Homeland Security, Terrorism, and Responsible Information Sharing

    The Nevada Threat Analysis Center (NTAC) was established in April 2008 and is an entity within the Nevada Department of Public Safety (DPS) – Investigation Division. In partnership with the people of Nevada, the Department of Public Safety provides services in support of protecting our citizens and visitors by promoting safer communities through prevention, preparedness, response, recovery, education and enforcement, through an all threats, all crimes strategy.

      NTAC has been designated by the Governor’s Office as the State fusion center, with primary responsibility for 16 of the state’s 17 counties (excluding Clark County); all state agencies and tribal areas within those areas. Clark County has their own fusion center with responsibilities lying within their respective jurisdiction. NTAC functions in coordination with the Clark County fusion center.

        NTAC embraces a team effort of local, state, federal, and tribal law enforcement, fire, health, emergency management and private sector stakeholders, in cooperation with the citizens of Nevada, for the timely receipt, analysis, and dissemination of criminal information while ensuring the safety and privacy rights of our citizens and critical infrastructure.

          Drug Enforcement

          Drug enforcement has become one of the hallmarks of the DPS Investigation Division, and the Investigation Division continues to serve as the lead investigative agency tasked with enforcing controlled substance laws within the State of Nevada. The Investigation Division provides leadership and supervision to five (5) multi-jurisdictional drug task forces throughout the State of Nevada, and also has detectives assigned to task forces operated by the Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA). The task forces which the Investigation Division operates provide resources and enforcement in 12 of Nevada’s 17 counties. The types of narcotic investigations which the Investigation Division conducts range from those involving the illegal use, sales, and distribution of illegal drugs such as Methamphetamine, Heroin, and Cocaine, to those involving the illegal manufacturing, trafficking, and cultivation of controlled substances.

            Pharmaceutical Drugs

            In addition, the Investigation Division serves as the leading law enforcement agency in the State of Nevada in the fight against pharmaceutical drug diversion. The Investigation Division continues to utilize traditional drug enforcement methods as well as non-traditional techniques to investigate prescription drug crimes. The Investigation Division works closely with the State Board of Pharmacy to accomplish the efficient and effective enforcement of laws concerning prescription and controlled substance diversion. The Investigation Division has made significant progress over the past several years in the number of controlled substance investigations and arrests. However, challenges facing the State of Nevada in its counter-drug efforts continue to evolve due to new trends, technological advancements in law enforcement tools, the current economic environment, and budgetary constraints. The emphasis on the diversion, sale, and trafficking of pharmaceutical controlled substances also remains a critical element for the Investigation Division’s narcotic task forces. The Nevada State Board of Pharmacy maintains a statewide Prescription Monitoring Program which tracks all Schedule II through IV controlled substances filled in Nevada. Nevada remains one of the leading states with respect to the per capita volume of prescription drugs issued and their ultimate diversion. The amount of prescription controlled substances being diverted for unlawful use or to illegal markets remains a growing concern not only for the State of Nevada, but for the rest of the United States.

              Pharmaceutical Diversion

                Pharmaceutical diversion refers to the illegal use of or fraud in obtaining prescription drug medications--essentially, diverting legal prescription medications for illegal purposes. In comparison to other well-known abused controlled substances such as Marijuana, Methamphetamine, and Heroin, the abuse of prescription medications has greatly increased such that in a report published by the National Governors Association (NGA) on September 13, 2012, the NGA identified it as "the fastest growing drug problem in the United States, and is the most common type of drug abuse after Marijuana use among teens between the ages of 12 and 17.” (NGA) Because of the availability of prescription medications, the illegal use, sales, trafficking, and distribution of these controlled substances has become not only an addition problem for some, but a very profitable business for many individuals. Prescription drugs such as Vicodin, Lortab, Oxycontin, and Oxycodone--all of which doctors can prescribe legally in Nevada and the United States to those who have a legitimate need for them--are becoming abused in a variety of ways. While pharmaceutical diversion and addiction greatly impacts many individuals, its reach extends far in terms of the impact it has upon crime in our communities, our economy, and ultimately our families.

                  The Nevada Department of Public Safety, Investigation Division remains committed in its efforts to reduce the impact which pharmaceutical diversion has upon the citizens and State of Nevada. As defined in its statutory authority under sections 453 and 639 of the Nevada Revised Statutes, the DPS Investigation Division serves as the primary law enforcement agency in the State of Nevada to investigate crimes involving pharmaceutical diversion. This includes such felonies as illegally obtaining or taking a controlled substance under false pretenses, forging or altering a prescription, the illegal use of a controlled substance, and attempting to see multiple doctors in order to obtain a fraudulent prescription (“doctor shopping”).

                    While the DPS Investigation Division recognizes that enforcement plays a critical element in the reduction of pharmaceutical diversion, it further recognizes that the complexity of this problem requires a variety of combined approaches and solutions from those in the criminal justice field, the medical community, social services, and substance abuse and mental health. To help reduce the increasing problem of pharmaceutical diversion in the State of Nevada, the DPS Investigation Division works in partnerships with the State of Nevada Board of Pharmacy, doctors, and pharmacies to investigate and identify those individuals involved with controlled prescription drug abuse.

                    Work Cited:

                    National Governors Association (NGA). “Six Strategies for Reducing Prescription Drug Abuse.” 13 Sept 2012. Web. 27 Jan 2016.

                      Drug Related Training and Education

                      The Investigation Division provides drug related training and education to law enforcement agencies, prosecutors, various types of civic groups, schools, and businesses statewide. The Investigation Division also analyzes drug trends and collects and maintains statistics on drug-related crimes. The Investigation Division monitors and cooperates with local, county, and federal law enforcement agencies to promote open communication, executive board meetings, training venues, and task force operations. These efforts provide a means of maintaining a broad overview of the impact which controlled substance violations have in the state, upon the citizens, and the economic effects upon our communities.


                        As mandated under Nevada Revised Statute 480.460, the DPS Investigation Division provides polygraph examination services to the Attorney General, any sheriff, chief of police, district attorney, or other law enforcement agency in the State of Nevada. The Division’s polygraph examiners provide these services in a professional and ethical manner that conforms with the standards and values of the Nevada Department of Public Safety as well as those of the American Polygraph Association.

                          The polygraph examinations which the Investigation Division conducts cover three main areas: pre-employment, criminal investigations, and post-conviction testing for those convicted of sexual offenses. As it relates to pre-employment polygraphs, the DPS Investigation Division utilizes the polygraph examination to assist the requesting agency in validating a candidate’s integrity before extending a conditional offer of employment to him or her to serve as a peace officer in the State of Nevada. By conducting polygraph examinations as part of a criminal investigation, the DPS Investigation Division helps identify potential suspects; clear the innocent; locate evidence, and determine if criminal acts have occurred. Finally, the DPS Investigation Division assists its fellow DPS partner, the Division of Parole and Probation, in utilizing polygraph examinations as part of the supervision of sex offenders by monitoring their compliance with the mandated conditions of their term of probation or parole.

                            Other Training

                            The Investigation Division remains a leader in providing training in a variety of investigative topics to include crime scene investigation, interview and interrogation, active assailant, terrorism liaison officer, narcotics investigations, and other law enforcement related areas. In addition, the Investigation Division provides training and assistance to the Nevada DPS Academy and the Nevada P.O.S.T. Academy, and also provides training in firearms instruction, defensive tactics, use of force, courtroom testimony, narcotics law, drug trends, report writing, evidence collection, and response to active assailants.

                              One area of instruction unique to the Investigation Division has become the Nevada Drug Investigation School, which it usually hosts every year with the assistance of the DPS Training Division and funding from the Office of Criminal Justice Assistance. This course provides students with extensive hands-on training with many of the investigative aspects encountered on a frequent basis in a multi-jurisdictional narcotic task force setting. Students take part in the initiation and development of a narcotic investigation by utilizing various techniques such as informant development and management, controlled purchases, surveillance, undercover operations, tactical assessments and considerations, and warrant service. The class concludes with a mock trial presented before an actual judge and a jury normally comprised of students from a government or debate class.

                                The Investigation Division continues to provide public service presentations that focus on illegal and prescription controlled substance abuse, awareness, and identification, and conducts this training for both law enforcement agencies and the public. Investigation Division personnel also provide public presentations at the request of civic organizations, businesses, the mining industry, universities and schools, and other governmental agencies.