interdiction | Definition

Doc's CJ Glossary by Adam J. McKee
Course: Criminal Law

In the world of criminal justice, interdiction means preventing or stopping criminal activities, such as trafficking illegal substances or weapons.

Imagine a game of Capture the Flag. Your team’s goal is to stop the other team from reaching their objective. That’s interdiction, but instead of a game, we’re talking about serious crimes like drug or weapon trafficking.

Tools for Interdiction

Interdiction isn’t as simple as standing in the way. It uses various strategies to disrupt criminal activities. Let’s explore some of these tools.


Surveillance is like being a detective. Law enforcement officers watch known criminals or suspected criminal activity closely. They might follow a suspicious vehicle or keep an eye on a building where they think illegal activity is happening.

Intelligence Gathering

Imagine being a spy. Intelligence gathering involves collecting information about criminal activities. Officers might listen in on phone calls, monitor online activity, or use informants to get inside information.

Physical Searches

Sometimes, a direct approach is needed. Law enforcement might stop and search vehicles, boats, or even people if they have reason to believe they’re involved in illegal activities.

The Target: Criminal Supply Chains

Interdiction mainly targets criminal supply chains and networks. Think about a business: products move from manufacturing to distribution and finally to the customer. Illegal activities work similarly but with contraband like drugs or weapons instead of legal goods.

By disrupting these criminal supply chains, law enforcement can prevent illegal goods from reaching their destination. This could involve stopping a shipment of illegal drugs at a port or surveilling known criminal organizations.

Cooperation is Key

Interdiction isn’t a solo effort. It requires cooperation between different levels of law enforcement. This collaboration can be local, like a city police department working with a county sheriff’s office. It can be statewide, involving different agencies within a state. It could also be federal, with agencies like the FBI or DEA stepping in.

Sometimes, interdiction efforts even go international. Crime doesn’t stop at borders, so law enforcement agencies from different countries often work together to stop trafficking and other criminal activities.

The Challenges of Interdiction

Interdiction isn’t easy. Criminal organizations are often sophisticated and go to great lengths to hide their activities. They may use technology to avoid detection or use innocent-looking people or vehicles to move illegal goods.

To combat these challenges, effective interdiction requires a mix of skilled law enforcement personnel, intelligence, and technology. The goal is not just to detect and stop criminal activities but also to ensure innocent people aren’t harmed in the process.

In summary, interdiction is a crucial strategy in criminal justice aimed at preventing or stopping criminal activities. Through methods like surveillance, intelligence gathering, and physical searches, law enforcement agencies work together to disrupt criminal supply chains and networks. Despite the challenges posed by sophisticated criminal organizations, the commitment to interdiction is key to maintaining law and order and protecting our communities from crime.

[ Glossary ]

Last Modified: 05/26/2023

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.