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Ensnared

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I see the post about "Common Federal" listed in one of these posts; however, I cannot find the following page within ARC 536 or Sentinel. I am looking for the common DEA frequencies, not specific to a state. The following are listed under U.S. Government. Yes, I can see national federal listings, but not one labeled U.S. Government. U.S. Government Scanner Frequencies and Radio Frequency Reference
 

ecps92

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kk6yus

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I've researched the DEA frequencies before and my conclusion is that much foot work needs to be done to accurately locate and monitor DEA radio traffic.

First, as previously said, DEA frequencies are fragmented among many regional and local offices that can independently operate so long as their within federally allocated frequencies with granted authority. This is permissive to comsec measures and propitiation optimization. Related to this is that they also cooperate extensively with regional HIDTA enforcement teams providing the perfect opportunity to demonstrate the interoperability advantages of P25. Secondly, they're predominantly encrypted. Although research has shown that clear voice messages slip through, either as a result of user error, mismatched cipher keys, or even active attack, traffic will be mostly inaudible (I am referencing this research a lot as it relates). They also can operate in a conventional mode which results in a smaller RF footprint.

So in other words it's hard to gather information from DEA frequencies.Good luck scanning.


What you can do is:

Make some assumptions: they're encrypted, mostly operating conventionally with FCC allocated frequencies using P25, somewhat fragmented with regards to common radio usage, cooperate with local authorities varied by area. Some or all of these assumptions may be false, but to reduce the error of identifying DEA communications, it can help to set some parameters in your search.

Program your scanner to look for known DEA channels within the top of the hierarchy of local nets. The more active a channel is, the more likely the source of the frequency is up to date. Use the Radio IDs from this net to indentify frequent users of this particular system during a prolonged period. The longer the better. A logging system would also catch any accidental clear voice transmission.

Next, program your scanner with common federal frequencies and a more broad collection of researched frequencies. Many software options allow you to leave the squelch type, modulation, etc in a "SEARCH" mode. This would allow a more broad search of frequencies, allowing any mode to be logged for analysis.

Now allow your scanner to collect information for as long as possible. Several months to a year would be ideal. Compare Radio IDs from the net with high confidence of DEA usage to suspected DEA nets and common federal frequencies. Also consider the collection of local anti-narcotic forces such as sheriffs departments who use P25 systems. For example, Radio ID "1234567" appeared on "HIGH CONFIDENCE DEA NET" a total of 30 times in a year. If the mean of unique Radio ID logs is just 8, then an occurrence of 30 times is significant. Search for this statistically significant Radio ID among many suspected frequencies.

...the threshold at which you consider the number particular Radio ID events to be significant will certainly factor into whether your end list DEA frequencies contain DEA traffic. Consider outside sources, such as published DEA raids within the scope of your collection area, comparing the known presence of DEA to logged Radio IDs and Talkgroup IDs

A trained radio operator could also use of the shelf pseudo-Doppler radio direction finding equipment to triangulate radio transmission sources. They cost around $400 dollars new and mount to a vehicle for deployment.

The ability to monitor is this manner is a result of P25's construction. It's ability to communicate with relative security both enhance its capabilities and leaves it vulnerable to passive attack. The vulnerabilities are known among competent radio operators.

Too much work for me, but that's how I'd do it.

http://www.project25.org/images/stories/ptig/P25_Standards_Updates/TR8_2016_summary_6.09.16.pdf

http://repository.upenn.edu/cgi/viewcontent.cgi?article=1990&context=cis_reports

https://m.youtube.com/watch?v=biYmetcOnZ4
 
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ecps92

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FCC doesn't license Federal Agencies.
That is all handled by the Dept of Commerce and the NTIA
https://www.ntia.doc.gov/category/spectrum-management

162-174 Mhz and 400-420 Mhz and you will find them in most regions
http://mt-fedfiles.blogspot.com/p/dea-frequency-updates.html

I've researched the DEA frequencies before and my conclusion is that much foot work needs to be done to accurately locate and monitor DEA radio traffic.

What you can do is:

Make some assumptions: they're encrypted, mostly operating conventionally with FCC allocated frequencies using P25, somewhat fragmented with regards to common radio usage, cooperate with local authorities varied by area. Some or all of these assumptions may be false, but to reduce the error of identifying DEA communications, it can help to set some parameters in your search.
 

Ranger0034

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Like Kkyus said, the simpleist way to find frequencies is to do a search. 162-174 and 406-420.
Make sure your scanners have the NAC feature on because that's important on how to identify who is talking. I moved to Florida in Sept of 2015, so I had my scanner searching for months, and still do !
I quickly established a list of local Fed freqs in my general area. The DEA here in my area operate on VHF channels not found in the generic lists of usual freqs, so AGAIN, NAC search is important !
 

N0JRD

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What VHF frequencies did you find? Are they any of the ones listed herehttp://mt-fedfiles.blogspot.com/p/dea-frequency-updates.html?m=1?
 

pinballwiz86

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What you can do is:

Make some assumptions: they're encrypted, mostly operating conventionally with FCC allocated frequencies using P25, somewhat fragmented with regards to common radio usage, cooperate with local authorities varied by area. Some or all of these assumptions may be false, but to reduce the error of identifying DEA communications, it can help to set some parameters in your search.

Program your scanner to look for known DEA channels within the top of the hierarchy of local nets. The more active a channel is, the more likely the source of the frequency is up to date. Use the Radio IDs from this net to indentify frequent users of this particular system during a prolonged period. The longer the better. A logging system would also catch any accidental clear voice transmission.

Next, program your scanner with common federal frequencies and a more broad collection of researched frequencies. Many software options allow you to leave the squelch type, modulation, etc in a "SEARCH" mode. This would allow a more broad search of frequencies, allowing any mode to be logged for analysis.

Now allow your scanner to collect information for as long as possible. Several months to a year would be ideal. Compare Radio IDs from the net with high confidence of DEA usage to suspected DEA nets and common federal frequencies. Also consider the collection of local anti-narcotic forces such as sheriffs departments who use P25 systems. For example, Radio ID "1234567" appeared on "HIGH CONFIDENCE DEA NET" a total of 30 times in a year. If the mean of unique Radio ID logs is just 8, then an occurrence of 30 times is significant. Search for this statistically significant Radio ID among many suspected frequencies.

...the threshold at which you consider the number particular Radio ID events to be significant will certainly factor into whether your end list DEA frequencies contain DEA traffic. Consider outside sources, such as published DEA raids within the scope of your collection area, comparing the known presence of DEA to logged Radio IDs and Talkgroup IDs

A trained radio operator could also use of the shelf pseudo-Doppler radio direction finding equipment to triangulate radio transmission sources. They cost around $400 dollars new and mount to a vehicle for deployment.

The ability to monitor is this manner is a result of P25's construction. It's ability to communicate with relative security both enhance its capabilities and leaves it vulnerable to passive attack. The vulnerabilities are known among competent radio operators.
Has the FBI showed up at your door yet? lol.
 

KK4JUG

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No one has come right out and said it but I suspect the DEA goes out of it's way to make sure most of their radio traffic is, at the very least, difficult to monitor.
 

kk6yus

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Has the FBI showed up at your door yet? lol.
Haha, no. My username is my callsign after all, so it's no secret who I am; huge radio nerd! I think the practice of white hats is a necessary one as well. Any vulnerability can be mitigated by user training and discipline anyhow.

Finding what your looking for from thin air is exciting so I'm more than willing to pass along my experience. Much the same, the OP asked an odd question I am sure some other hobbyist was asking.
 

SOFA_KING

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That was mostly pseudoscience. Sorry, it's really not that complicated. It's a matter of having a d@mn good (low loss) antenna system, knowing what your equipment is capable of, and optimizing it to capture long-term data collection. Then doing extensive analysis on the data (parsing it, and sorting by different categories to examine trends) and maintaining a detailed database with as much information as you can fit. If you have done that over an extended period of time, trends will emerge. And if you have done this over many years, you should be able to spot new hits immediately, and also see the many changes that occur as agencies change and evolve...or devolve (that happens...it's all about operations and maintenance costs, as well as federal funding). Capturing NACs and UIDs make identification much easier (in most cases). Then you get to observe trends to breakdown sub-departments within the various agencies themselves. Scanners, like the TRX-2, can deliver most all of the goods...ENC or not. Add a PSR-600 type scanner with WIN500 logging to the mix, and you will be able to capture NACs on data transmissions...which other scanners won't do. Many systems belch data even when no one is talking, so that greatly speeds up the data collection and identification process. ;)

The golden age of coordination, when agencies had national frequency assignments, is just about gone. The bands have become one big cesspool of poorly coordinated frequency reuse. And from my many travels around the country, and observation of different densely populated areas of the U.S., every area agency district appears to do their own thing. National standards are falling away. It's a shame to see that happening.

Could a DEA agent take his/her radio across the country and talk to all the various districts along the way? I doubt it. Maybe he/she could if he/she had enough space in his or her radio, and it was programmed with different zones for every district. He/she would have to know how to, and when to, change zones. Good luck with that! From what I hear, many agents don't want to know anything about their radios. Then they complain about how they don't work. You're lucky if one Agent in Charge knows how the system was designed and what channels to use.

And then there is the push for DEA to return to VHF. That's another complication. Here in Florida the old analog Micor UHF system went way beyond "end of life", and was not being maintained (funding issue). For many years they relied on direct analog simplex with Flint air support relaying the traffic. Some areas, like Tampa, starting building new VHF repeaters that are now (finally) in steady use (first to migrate). New VHF repeaters were installed and tested in other parts of the state, but have been slow to catch on. North Florida agents have finally discovered the new VHF system, but central and south Florida agents still use UHF analog. Perhaps the other areas are not yet completed on buildout. I have noticed techs turning up new DEA and ATF...and occasionally new FBI RA and/or USMS P25 repeaters in batches. I assume they are doing all planned build projects one site at a time, and are handling all agencies under their area of responsibility. That's a logical approach to save money. As far as I can tell, this is still WIP. Funding must be slow.

Getting back to DEA...Observation of the N FL system indicates some sort of automatic repeater selection that activates/deactivates repeaters as a group moves around. Agents can go a long distance, and never talk about changing repeaters, so it must be automatic. When a group splits into two areas, both areas light up. But the agents mentioned two distinct N FL zones indicating different regions, so how the system works with borders like that is unknown (at this time). Does Tampa have the same setup? Not that I have observed. They select the VHF P25 repeater for each area they work. Once again, every district appears to do something different. The only common frequency I have observed is 170.6500 car to car. And I have only heard one UHF P25 simplex frequency used around Orlando. It must be a "one off".

Due to narrow rebranding efforts, and the doubling of channels now available, now is a great time to search for new frequency assignments. Many agencies are taking advantage of this opportunity, and if they can get funding are stamping out new repeaters along with new simplex assignments. Agencies like the IRS are even returning to VHF after a long period of UHF abandonment. Heck, they just came up on a new repeater pair and new simplex frequency around my city a few days ago. But you have to be searching all the time with the right equipment (programmed perfectly) to catch stuff like that when it happens. I may not hear those frequencies active again until someone knows that they have them at their disposal and knows how to access them. Stuff can sit dormant for months, if not years, at a time. Still, I add them to my "listening" scanners and wait for that day. Most of the time it pays off. There's not much I miss, and if it's ITC, I get to enjoy the fruits of my labor. Fun hobby!

Phil
 
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