(A Continuing Series)
Samuel E. Stone
Samuel E. Stone is an author, poet, investigator, and retired police sergeant who served two tours of duty working deep cover operations.
AUTHOR’S NOTE: “People want to know who you are, what you do for a living, and where you come from. If you can satisfy those basic curiosities, the majority of people would rather talk about themselves than hear any more about you.”
This page is a series of articles about illegal drugs,
and the impact they have on every one of us.
Click on any title below to read that article:
(best when read in sequence, first to last)
“Dark Side of Reality”
“Victims Among Us”
“In an Instant of Time”
“Ninja Hunting in Today’s Drug Cultural Society”
“Tragedy of Innocence”
“Drug Dealing Women and Wild Horses”
“The L.A. Connection”
“Never Run 0ut of Bullets In a Gun Fight”
“Traitor in the Ranks”
“Dark Side of Reality”
In today’s fast moving society we worry about bills, traffic congestion, the price of gas, our children, and in the back of our mind, terrorism. Very few of us realize or understand that there is a sub-culture living in our midst that for all intents and purposes tends to blend in during the daylight hours and then surface in the wee hours of the night. This sub-culture I am referring consist both males and females, young and old, big and small, whose common denominator is: they all have only one purpose in life and that is getting “high.” They’ll beg, borrow, steal, lie, cheat, and even kill to reach their goal. They are as determined as a person can be and will stop at nothing. Sadly we are their prey, the source they use and abuse to achieve the funds they need to support their addiction.
During the course of my twenty-five years in law enforcement I spent two separate tours of duty working deep cover, one of which lasted two years. It was an eye opener. Just when I thought I had a handle on human nature and what motivates people, I became exposed to an element in our society that even as a cop I had no idea existed. The articles I will be writing over the next year will cover in some detail my experiences as well as things that all of us should be aware of in order to avoid falling prey to these self-destructive creatures living among us.
You might be asking yourself, why do I care if some consenting adult destroys his or her own life? Well, you might not care, and I understand that, but the old saying “their problems becomes your problems applies here. In order to support their habit, drug users rely on recruitment. They endeavor to recruit your friends, loved ones, children, and grandchildren just to reach their self-serving goal to get “high.”
Drug addiction is very expensive and the more you use, the more you need to reach that “high.” So like I just said, they recruit. They target our youth, you know young impressionable kids, just like yours or mine. Like everything else in this world, there are at least two sides to every story. It comes down to a matter of perception. Many drug users/dealers become natural salesmen whether by convincing the potential buyer how great their product will make them feel or by portraying high rollers with fast cars, large bundles of money, and a carefree lifestyle. A carefree lifestyle filled with everything you could want might be unrealistic but is appealing to all of us. Either way these dealers paint a pretty picture while claiming to have great connections and the best product.
The reason recruitment is so important to them is because the majority of the users/dealers are always in need of money for their next fix. They talk others into fronting them money for the drugs, and then off they go. This affords them a way to pay for their own habit by buying drugs for others. They purchase the drugs and take some off the top for their own use. Next they “step on” the rest of it by adding filler so the person buying it does not know he or she has been ripped off. Upon delivery of the product, they tell the buyer he has to share the product with them for their trouble and they take an additional pitch. The more they can sell the more they get for themselves. This practice is at the expense of their buyers who not only get short changed on the amount of drugs they purchased but end up becoming addicted to the drugs themselves. You see the drugs of today, especially cocaine and meth have been refined to the point that they are so powerful that it doesn’t taken long for a new user to become addicted. First the new user becomes psychologically addicted and then from repeated use it is not long until he/she becomes physically addicted as well. Sadly it’s not long before the new buyers turn into users/dealers themselves just to support their new habit. It’s called survival in the wonderful world of drugs.
Many people, who have never been around the drug scene, often do not understand what the appeal is to use. Simply put, taking drugs allows the user an escape from the pressures of reality by creating an utopia affect leaving the user in a state of ecstasy, delight, and bliss. The problem is that the feeling is short lived and turns to the opposite affect, of agony, misery and torment after the drug wears off making them desperate to score their next fix.
One question people seem to always ask me, is why would anyone want to become an undercover cop and after doing it once, why in the world would anyone do it again? I always tell them that becoming an undercover cop was not my first choice, the department picked me. I just took them up on the task. In this world each of us at one time or another are faced with the choice of just sliding by or doing something to make a difference. I was reluctant to go undercover but found it to be one of the most exciting and rewarding parts of my police career.
Drug users become drug addicts, who become criminals plaguing society and victimizing the rest of us. The majority of the burglaries, armed robberies, thefts, assault, and murders in this country have a direct link back to drugs, so sad but true. Working undercover, and working up the food chain of drug dealers to the source may never stop the drug problem but does help to save lives and keep the problem from escalating any further out of control than it already has become in today's society.
My training and work as a hostage negotiator prior to working undercover gave me an extended insight to human nature that supplied me with the tools necessary to blend in and function in an undercover capacity. Just in case you're wondering the photo at the beginning of this article is of me hard at work as an undercover operative.
In closing this article I'm leaving you with a poem which I wrote concerning the perils of cocaine. I hope you have found this article interesting and somewhat educational. I look forward to writing more of my experiences and adventures to you in the months to come.
Until then remember to appreciate what you have, for it all can be lost in a moment of time. Now the thought of the day: "enough" is all any of us need, it's the more that gets us in trouble.
“Dark Side of Reality”
On the dark side they call me cocaine, coke for short,
illegally I enter this country from each and every port,
I find my way to the lowlifes, making them all so rich,
many die in the process and lay forgotten in the ditch.
I'm worth much more than diamonds or even gold,
so strong if you use me but once even you’ll be sold,
making educators young and old forget their books,
those beautiful young models will forget their looks.
I’ll take those that intrigue and make them a bore,
while your mother, sadly I’ll turn her into a whore,
the teachers I touch, no more will be able to teach,
and preachers, oh yea, preachers unable to preach.
I’ll take your money, demanding more, evicted you’ll be,
and your young will die or be born addicted to little me.
yet if that’s not enough, for me you’ll rob, steal and kill,
for I’m the force, the power, the god controlling your will.
By my nature I make misery and mayhem a common affair,
before too long I become your ruler for you haven’t a prayer.
Just maybe, maybe you have a clue, now what will you do?
After all, the reality is that it’s always been just up to you.
Remember this and never forget, if you call me your friend,
it’s simple, I’ll make you pay, and pay all the way til the end.
So with all your being I say to you, listen hard, and listen well,
because I am Cocaine, the power and I will be your living hell.
Samuel E. Stone, Copyright© 2007, All Audiences
"Victims Among Us"
Working undercover I met hundreds, probably a thousand or more individuals who were addicted to one kind of a drug or another. The sad reality of the matter is that I never met even one person who set out with the intention of becoming addicted. The drugs today are so powerful that they do not allow for experimentation to satisfy our human curiosity. Quite often the first time leaves the user with a psychological addiction. Now let’s face it, every one of us likes to kick back, relax, and feel good. We are all sexual creatures by nature, and I don’t have to say how sex makes us feel. This primal instinct makes every one of us at risk for an addiction in one form or another. Those that fall addicted to drugs are in essence victims in our society. Sadly by the nature of this addiction they also become criminals in order to satisfy their need for the drug they are hooked on.
Let me share with you something I learned on my first undercover experience that I would have not even thought of if I hadn’t seen it with my own eyes. I went undercover to infiltrate a topless organization that was opening a club in our County. The mission I was assigned to accomplish was to enter the topless establishment and attempt to work my way up inside the organization. I was to do this while gathering facts and evidence related to possible illegal activities. This evidence would later be used against the members of the establishment who were involved in criminal violations so that charges could be filed against them for their illegal activities.
Believe it or not, the first thing I found in the topless club was victims. I know what you are thinking. I bet you’re thinking that I am talking about the patrons being taken advantage of; is that right? No, not even close, that’s not it at all. Although, I could tell you stories involving unbelievable situations where patrons have been beaten, robbed, and even murdered, but that is not where I’m headed in this article. Victims of what then, you ask? They were victims of today’s acculturation and victims of the drug culture itself. Let me explain.
Here is how it works in the topless clubs. The topless club employs a handful of carefully selected older women (not really old, only in their mid 20's and up) who are hard core professionals if you get my drift. These women have been topless dancers for years and have worked the circuit of topless clubs. These same women work for the organization working parties and providing escort service to high rollers. It is a lucrative profession for them. Their responsibility is to take the new girls hired off the street and break them into the life style of a topless dancer.
The majority of the young girls hired by these clubs to be dancers are single mothers with one or two babies. They range from the age of 16 years old to their early twenties. They have no job related skills. They have no close family ties, and virtually are all alone in the world. They either live on the street, in their car, or are staying somewhere they are not wanted. Most of them have been hurt or abandoned by one or more persons with whom they loved and shared their life. All of these young women have suffered both emotionally and physically, which has left them cold, hard, and resigned. They believe that they reached the bottom, and are desperate to find some sort of security. The topless clubs at first glance, offers them this security and so much more.
The first thing that happens when a new young girl is hired is that each girl is assigned (without their knowledge) an older professional dancer to be their mentor. The xperienced dancer takes the new girl under her wing and teaches her the ropes with promises of money and independence. It is the first time in many of these young women’s lives that they find a bonding friendship. It gives them a renewed hope that they can make it in the world and will be able to take care of themselves and their babies. During this bonding practice their mentor paints a glamorous picture of life as a star. They take it slowly with the new girls, sometimes just having them watch the routines for the first week, while they teach them the moves they will need to give a desirable performance. They sometimes have the new girls wait on tables during the first week or two of their employment. They are in no hurry to break them into the stage. In fact they want to build up the anxiety in the new girls before they put them on stage. They portray going on stage for the first time as really being important to their new career as a dancer telling the young ones that if they fail the first time they could lose their job and their career will be over before it starts. And the reason they do this is because, why, you might ask? Be patient. I’m getting there. Everything the older dancer does is designed to build trust between her and the new young dancer. This trust is the key to her success. You see, yhen the older dancer breaks in the new dancer correctly, she receives monetary bonuses and special treatment.
Now if the old dancer did her job right, when the time finally comes for the new dancer to perform for the first time on stage she should be frightened and scared to death. This is when the bonding and friendship role comes into play as the old dancer provides the young one with some drugs to take the edge off. Down playing the drugs while stressing the importance of a good first time performance. Rather then risking failure, the young girl takes the drugs, which are given to her freely for the next few weeks or so. The young girl believes her life has improved and can only get better but sadly it will soon take on a downward spiral effect. What I discovered from the topless club I worked undercover in, was that the organization was not satisfied with the girls just working there and making a living. They wanted the girls hooked on drugs so that they could own them. I don’t know if this is the case in other clubs, but I do have my suspicions. I realize that topless clubs and the young girls affected makes up only a small portion of society’s struggling young women. The important thing to remember is that every victim created becomes a parasite on our society. I think it is noteworthy however knowing human nature to point out that basically we are all the same; our motivation is based on self-worth and survival. We naturally are drawn to things that make us feel good about ourselves and the life we live.
This alone makes us all at risk. Remember what I mentioned in my last article. Once a person becomes a drug user it is not long until they become a drug dealer just to support their habit. They prey upon the rest of us just to survive while worshiping their new found god of being in a state of “high.” May the real God help and protect us all. Until next time then, when I will tell of the perils of deep undercover work and how in an instant of time, it can turn deadly.
“Victims of Living“
In a world of our longing and desires,
each of us searches to find our way,
passion rages fueling the burning fires,
never knowing if we’ll survive the day.
Land of opportunity motivated by greed,
callusing the heart turning it forever cold,
so much we want but little we really need,
down through time this story is often told.
Young Mothers trying to feed their offspring,
so many sacrifices made in the name of love,
the corridor narrows until one can’t feel a thing,
slowly sinking in a hole losing sight of above.
Befriended by an angel of darkness in the night,
the joys and expectations fill the wanting heart,
sensual pleasures fill the moment with delight,
passing in a moment’s time the fantasy departs.
Now held in the slavery of one’s own addiction,
signs of hope disappears when we lose our soul,
in a life of chance there is no room for predictions,
sadly too often indiscretions take their mortal toll.
Samuel E. Stone, Copyright© 2010, All Audiences
“In an Instant of Time”
Every officer who has ever worked undercover knows the fear of your identity being exposed is always foremost in the back of your mind. You try not to let it bother you, but it’s there just the same. Another constant worry is that you’ll be put in the position that you’ll be forced to use drugs and/or risk blowing your cover. The Golden Rule, never to be broken is that you never, ever use drugs. This rule is set in stone, with no exceptions but as we all know the reality of life is that there is no such thing as “set in stone” and there is “always an exception.”
Drug users in general, suffer from paranoia or more simply put an extreme, irrational distrust of others. If they don't see you doing drugs, well it tends to arouse their suspicions and makes them believe that you could be a cop. Once they get this thought in their head, it bothers them a lot. In fact, once they become suspicious of you it seems that they just can't let it go until they get the person they are leery of to do some drugs in front of them. This applies to smoking dope, or doing lines, or shooting up, whatever it is that they are doing at the time. These users won't rest until they see you do it with their own eyes. Many undercover cops have lost their credibility with the group they were infiltrating just because of this very reason. And sadly, many police careers have been ruined because they made the wrong decision and took the drugs. Taking drugs is like playing Russian Roulette you never know how the outcome will impact your life.
I came up with a method to ward off their suspicions. Actually, I thought it to be rather clever and it seemed to work well, or so I thought. Here is what I did, each day while enroute to the topless club where I was working undecover, I would pull off to the shoulder of the road. I would park the car but leave it idling. There on the side of the road, I would reach into my pocket and pull out a small metal box, the kind that breath mints come in. I kept rolled marijuana joints in the tin. The marijuana was given to me through the office to use in making my uncover roll more believable, you know part of the flash. Now, mind you I probably was not supposed to roll it into joints and light it up, but at the risk of sounding like a politican "I didn't inhale"...forget that line... I'm not even going there, I can't even type it with a straight face.
Anyway back to my story. I would light the joint of marijuana and blow the smoke onto my beard and all over my clothing. After which I would put the joint out and put it back in the tin to use again for another day. Next, I would crack open a beer and gargle with the beer making sure to spill some on my clothing and in my beard. I called this procedure "putting on my druggie deodorant." When I was finally done, all that was left was to stagger a little and slur my words when I walked into the topless club.
My theory was based on the slogan, "if it looks like a duck, walks like a duck, quacks like a duck, it's a duck." I just changed it to "if it looks like a drugger, walks like a drugger, smell's like a drugger, talks like a drugger, well, it's a drugger. And, I must say it worked every time. Those with whom I met and came into contact with always thought I was wasted but and the "but" is important, maintaining at a functional level. It seemed to add credibility to the character I was portraying. I appeared and smelled (I might add), too intoxicated to be related or connected to Law Enforcement in any way, shape, or fashion.
On one particular occasion the club manager was having an after hours party. Sitting on the coffee table in the middle of the room was a large oval mirror and laid out on the mirror was lines after lines of cocaine. The mirrior was like 24 inches across the middle, and probably 36 inches long so you can imagine how much cocaine was spread out in lines. The manager snorted two lines, one up each nostrile and then handed me the straw. There was about 15 to 20 people in the room all anixously awaiting their turn. I reached out and grabbed the straw with a grin on my face from ear to ear. I took another swig of the beer as I noticed the corner of the mirror was hanging off of the coffee table. I yelled "alright, let's party" and dropped to my knees.
Realize now, all night long I had appeared to be two sheets to the wind and feeling no pain. So, when my knees hit the floor, my hand, the one holding the straw, hit the corner of the mirror flipping it up into the air with all the lines of cocaine flying across the room onto the shag carpet with the mirror landing upside down on the floor. Those watching let out a moan in shock as I screamed, "oh shit" and dived head first into the carpet giving the appearance that I was snorting the cocaine off the rug. It all appeared to be a natural mishap done by an intoxicated individual, that person being me. The manager was upset, but more upset with himself in letting me near his stash than he was in the "accident". He kept mumbling to himself that he knew I was wasted and he shouldn't have let me near his stuff while I just kept apologizing while I sipped on my beer. He kept saying I owed him. I kept saying I was sorry. I offered to pay him for the cocaine now in the carpet, but he just shook his head telling me not to worry about it. You would be utterly amazed of the things one can get away with when those around you think that you're "three sheets to the wind." I found it to be a useful tool when working undercover.
About three months later the manager of the topless club invited me up to his hide away cabin in the mountains. It was a beautiful A-frame cabin situated on a secluded pristine lake up in the mountains far away from the civilized world so to speak. He and I had developed a bond over the last previous months. I was now considered to be in his inner circle of friends. One of the ones he considered to be close friends with whom he partied and trusted. He informed me that he was meeting a cocaine distributor at his cabin and purchasing multi-kilos of cocaine. I just stood there and looked at him as he reached into a backpack and pulled out a pistol showing it to me. "What do you think?" he said as he handed me the gun. It was a 1911 Springfield, 45 caliber semi-auto pistol. "Nice gun, I remarked as he reached back into the backpack and removed two extra clips for the weapon and handed me them as well. He said the gun was a present for me to keep but that I had to earn it. He wanted me to watch his back during this buy he was making. Over the past several months I had more or less become his unofficial bodyguard. You could say this was his way of making it official stating how he needed an extra set of eyes while he completed this drug transaction. I was informed that the subject he was dealing with was hardcore and not a nice guy. The subject's demeanor scared him but he had a premium product at a great price per kilo. I was warned not to piss the guy off stating that he was a cold stoned killer and was responsible for the disappearance of quite a few people over the last couple of years.
We arrived at the cabin just before dusk and were just settling in when the drug distributor arrived with two of his men. I was introduced as an associate. After the introductions were made I sat back some distance from the rest of them as they conducted business. Everything seemed to be going smoothly as planned. Cocaine was tested and found to be acceptable. The drugs and money exchanged hands. After which some lines of cocaine were laid out on a silver platter and each of them did a couple of lines. The distributor then looked over at me and motioned me to partake in the cocaine left on the platter. I put my hands up waving that I was good, then with in a moment of time I found the barrel of a gun poking profusely into my temple. I had been blind sided by one of the associates who accompanied the distributor. He had left to use the bathroom and when he returned he came up from behind. I was upset I had let this guy get by me.
The main man, this distributor guy, directed me in a demanding voice to snort a couple of lines of cocaine now, or his man would scatter my brains across the living room. My heart sank as I felt my knees going weak. They had the drop on me, I no longer had any control over the situation. I was all alone in an isolated cabin in the mountains without any back up, in fact no one even knew where I was at this point in time. I had less than a moment to think about it. The fact of the matter was, that snorting the cocaine had just become the lesser of two evils. I really beleived that being dead was not what I would consider a reasonable alternative. Before I could even speak, my so called friend, the club manager remarked in a begging fashion that this guy was not kidding and I better do what I was told. I could tell by his action and the sound of his voice this situation was serious and was about to get deadly if I didn't do as I was told.
I slowly got up from where I was sitting and walked over to them without saying a word. The subject holding the gun to my head followed me, never lowering the gun from the level of my head. I leaned over the table and snorted the cocaine, first one line and then the next. I put the straw down on the plate and looked the distributor in the eye. He smiled and I smiled back at him. He remarked that they were done here and they left. My heart was pounding hard within my chest wall while my pulse was racing. I did not know how the drug would affect me. After the others left, I excused myself telling the manager that if he no longer needed my services that I had a hot date waiting for me back in town and had to leave. I left and drove back to town.
I disappeared from the scene for the next two days. I wasn't sure if I was going to have a heart attack or stroke out or what, but luckily with the grace of God I survived. To this day, I don't know if I got high from the cocaine or not. I was so worried about the adverse affects it might have while focusing on maintaining until I got to a safe environment that I think my mind might have negated any pleasurable side affects. This experience had a humbling affect upon me shattering my sense of being in control. I returned to work with a new understanding of the dangers and how circumstances can change in an instant of time. Until next time when we explore the wonderful world of Ninja hunting in today's drug cultural society.
In an Instant of Time
Life focusing upon an instant of time,
where happenstance can play it’s turn,
without the control, losing your mind,
so much in this world there is to learn.
Just when we think we really know,
life teaches us we don’t have a clue,
things change as the wind will blow,
all alone beneath the sky ever so blue.
Survival requires a constant test of will,
the fight of good verses evil never to end,
battles rage not always won by our skill,
those close are not necessarily our friend.
It can happen now, tomorrow, or any day,
at times you will lose before you've begun,
the strong and weak search to find the way,
on top of the game, in an instant you're done.
An exciting journey down the windy path,
endlessly seeking the tools we need to cope,
no matter how far we come it will never last,
we’re left alone with only our will and hope.
Samuel E. Stone, Copyright© 2008, All Audiences
“Ninja Hunting in Today’s Drug Cultural Society”
Drugs whether legal or illegal are studied and investigated as to the affects that they will have on an average individual. The key word here is “average” which in actuality is making a reference to the majority of people that were used in a controlled environment to conduct the study. This standard does not apply to everyone. This is the reason that there is always warning labels on legal drugs. These labels state that you may experience adverse reactions of one kind or another. This also applies to the use of illegal drugs, not everyone has the same reaction under the influence. Furthermore, the amount of drugs taken by individuals, along with the frequency used varies, as well as the age, physical and mental health of the user.
You are likely aware that the use of illegal drugs, especially on any sort of regular basis, transforms the user’s personality into a paranoid state. The reason for this is twofold. First, regular users develop skills in lying and stealing in order to finance their habit. The more an addict uses illegal drugs the higher his or her tolerance to the drug becomes which requires more of the substance in order to maintain a high or balance level. The more drugs needed the higher the cost. Stealing and lying become a normal means of survival for these individuals.
Now if they lie and steal, they become unable to trust anyone else because they view everyone as equal or below them in what they are capable of doing. They become paranoid simply because they feel they cannot trust anyone. Knowing their own untrustworthiness leads them to believe no one can be trusted.
The second reason is that illegal drugs such as cocaine and meth directly influence the users central nervous system including the reasoning and perceptive areas of the brain. This can hinder their ability to properly process information. This biological involvement develops into its own type of psychosis, in which the user’s personality becomes functionally disorganized disrupting their natural thinking process and creating paranoid behavior.
This brings me to the “Ninja Hunters” that exist in today’s society. Working undercover I have come across all sorts of individuals. Some of whom behaved in such bazaar fashion that even though their actions are sad, and often times scary, they also can be somewhat comical.
Here is one such story about this guy named “Homer” who lived in a two bedroom corner apartment on the third floor of a three story complex. He was in his mid to late twenties, 6'2”, weighting all of 120 pounds. I’m sure you can get the picture. In his younger days he experimented with acid (LSD) and virtually fried his brain. He moved up to speed (meth) where over a period of time he went from snorting it to main-lining the drug into his veins. He was a hard-core user. His mind seemed constantly focused on drugs. Drugs became his god. Getting his next fix dominated his every thought and desire. He lived for drugs. He would die for his drugs.
Sadly, from his perspective, anyone, any group, or anything for that matter that would in any way, shape, or form deprive him from his drugs, his god, was EVIL. He viewed all such things as the evil forces existing in his society. In his mind, their prying eyes were everywhere and they were constantly trying to take his drugs, his god away from him.
Just attempting to carry on a conversation with him was scary, entertaining, challenging and potentially lethal. I was introduced to Homer in regards to purchasing an eight-ball (1/8 of an ounce) of meth from him. Selling drugs had become his main source of income, since due to deranged mental state he was not capable of holding down a real job. I was taken up to his apartment to make the buy. The person who took me there had warned me prior to our arrival that Homer was “way out” there and that I did not want to say or do anything that might contribute to escalating his paranoid state of mind. He advised me that Homer had the tendency to turn from nice to deadly without provocation or warning.
We arrived at Homer’s apartment, #312. The door to the apartment was open, ajar, closed but not tight. We knocked and received no response but as we did the door opened slightly from the vibration. We knocked again and heard a muffled voice asking who was there. My escort, who knew Homer, yelled back that it was Jim and he had brought me with him as they had previously arranged. Jim and a couple of other acquaintances of Homer had previously vouched for me at a party we all attended. It was at that time Jim had received Homer’s approval to bring me over to purchase some meth. Homer yelled for us to come in and close the door behind us. We opened the door and walked inside. I was immediately taken back by what I saw. The inside of the house looked like a war zone. The sheet rock and insulation had been removed from the walls and was lying in a rumble piled high in the center of the room. And the windows were all covered with tinfoil. I looked over at Jim with a shocked look on my face and he just smiled at me and shrugged his shoulders. We then heard Homer yell, “watch-out” just as a huge piece of insulation came falling to the ground from the trapped door to the attic. We looked up and could see Homer’s legs dangling down from the trap door. “I’ll be down in a minute. I just have to get one more piece.” Homer said. Moments later another piece of insulation sailed down from the attic.
Homer climbed down a few minutes later. He had a large, 45 cal. automatic pistol tucked in the waist band of his pants. We were re-introduced and he stared at me with his beady eyes. He had a blank stare as if he was there but he was not if you know what I mean. He just looked weird and gave me a strange feeling. He appeared extremely nervous shifting his focus around the room and then back to me. “I been Ninja hunting,” he said in a serious but rather proud tone. “You never know who is listening or where they are hiding,” he remarked as if he was an expert on the subject. “You can’t be too careful you know. They have bugs planted everywhere, you know.” He continued to speak as he picked through a piece of insulation he had dropped down from the attic.
I had been warned prior to our arrival to keep my mouth shut and not say anymore than necessary. Jim had told me to just listen, stating that if I happened to say the wrong thing it might set Homer off. And, that would not be good for either of us. Reminding me that Homer was a weird dude and potentially dangerous.
I listened intently as Homer spoke. One moment he would speak in a rather normal tone of voice and then without warning his voice turned rough and angry. His emotions seemed to race from calm to bouncing off the walls and then recycled again. I found the entire situation rather scary to think that we have such unstable individuals residing among us. After just a few minutes, apparently I met his approval because he pulled out an eight-ball of meth and handed it to me. I in turn handed him the cash agreed upon and we left the apartment.
Jim, who set up the buy was also a user/dealer but appeared to be quite normal in comparison to Homer. As we went to get into the car to leave, Jim remarked that Homer was definitely “upside down in the duck pond, but still afloat.” In this essence meant that even though he was delusional and extremely paranoid, he was still able to function in the drug society and supply people with the drugs they wanted or needed to purchase.
During my tours of duty working undercover I found myself meeting a rather large number of so called “Ninja Hunters”. They seem to come from all walks of life, in all shapes and sizes, both male and female. Some have little to no education while others hold master degrees. Their common denominator is their addiction to drugs. Their paranoia and delusional tendencies also vary from mild to extreme. Many of these individuals develop medical problems such as ulcers which are directly related to the anxiety fluctuation associated with their compulsive behavior.
Until next time, when we shall take a look at the sad realities of the young children growing up in Today’s drug culture, the true victims of drugs in America.
The Great Ninja Hunter
All alone in a world of their own,
they hear voices in the lonely night,
screams and yells to a distant moan,
getting another fix to see the light.
Trapped in a room without any walls,
enclosed in a tomb of their own will,
monsters threaten standing ever so tall,
shaking, sweating, feeling a cold chill.
Meaningless motion without any love,
searching for that which you can’t find,
without happiness or the heaven above,
drowning in a bottle of the cheap wine.
Ninja soldiers waging an endless war,
over time they grow tired and get old,
locked in a room without even a door,
fighting to win they become so bold.
The end does not justify the means,
the drugs leave a mark taking a toll,
not the delight they thought, it seems,
in the end they lost their mortal soul.
Samuel E. Stone, Copyright© 2008, All Audiences
“Tragedy of Innocence”
children caught in the cross fire
By Samuel E. Stone
Life is a series of happen stances from our birth to the time we take our last breath of air. This is really one of the basic facts of life. No one born on this earth has a say as to who their parents will be or to their family situation. Sadly, life is not fair. Many innocent children are born trapped in the cross hairs of substance abuse. Their struggle for survival is constant and many never survive. It’s too bad people don’t have to take classes and pass a test to have children. If you think about it, children are our most valuable resource. They are the essence of the future. Our children are the most precious part of our lives. Our children are what most of us so called “normal” people live, breathe, and die for. Yet, when it comes to children that our not ours, we seem to give them little to no regard. These children become society’s problems not ours. We may feel sorry for them, but it’s a passing thought. The majority of us, myself included worry constantly about our own loved ones and most of the time give little to no thought about all the poor mistreated souls that inhabit our world. All children should be saved, nurtured, and cared for to the best of our ability. Maybe someday we as a society will realize this and do something positive to protect them. Children growing up in the adverse conditions of a drug environment don’t know what a normal life is or how it is to grow up in a stable and safe home setting with parents that love them.
Working undercover you’re perpetually attempting to work your way “up the ladder.” You make drug buys from the users who have turned dealers just to support their habit. You eventually get these user/dealers to introduce you to their supplier and then their supplier’s supplier and so on, each time purchasing larger amounts of drugs. In the beginning when dealing with the user/dealer, often times you have to front them the money for the drugs. They are after all untrustworthy and their supplier will not front them the drugs and you (the undercover operative) have not earned enough trust to be introduced to this supplier. This puts the undercover officer or anyone in the market to purchase drugs on shaky ground of being ripped off or burned for the money he fronts the user/dealer.
The nature of the game is such that it is expected and required that the user/dealer puts up collateral for the money he or she is being fronted for the buy. They will naturally try to talk the buyer into fronting them the money. The user/dealer will tell the buyer how honest they are and how they can be trusted. Sometimes the user/dealer will drop names of people who have trusted them with money for buys. Then the user/dealer will go off on how their product is far superior to what is currently available on the street. The fact of the matter is that if you fall for their trustworthy BS when you handed them your money you most likely saw the last of your money and saw the last of them. The collateral put up is normally worth many times the amount of money that is fronted which gives the buyer some sort of confidence that the user/dealer won’t stiff him out of the money he paid in advance. The reality, however, is that nothing, absolutely nothing but the drugs really have any importance to the user/dealer, but even so putting up collateral does help to keep them focused on bringing you back the drugs.
Now the user/dealer even after having to put up collateral still looks at being fronted the money as a win/win situation. First he gets the money up front, second he tries to get the drugs cheaper than the price he quoted the buyer, thereby making money off the deal, and thirdly, he/she will “step on” the drugs prior to turning the product over to the buyer. “Stepping on” the drugs is the process of removing some of the product and replacing it with a filler (duff) that is hard to detect because it mixes well with the product.
The user/dealer often times gives stolen property as collateral, things like stereos, guns, and jewelry. The items are normally small, easy to hide and carry around. The hardcore user/dealer often times will run out of collateral items and become inventive. The chronic drug user has a way of viewing and translating everything they have into a dollar value. The dollar value based on how it relates to the amount of drugs they can buy.
On one occasion, I was given a woman who was nine months pregnant as collateral. The woman was perfectly in agreement to the arrangement. I was told by her and her boyfriend that if he did not come back with the drugs he was purchasing for me that I could keep the woman until she had the baby. Then, I could sell the baby to recover my investment. The two of them were heroin addicts and they both, were going through withdrawal and in desperate need of a fix. They went as far to imply that if he took too long in returning with the drugs the woman would satisfy any needs I might have.
I fronted the man the money and he returned some six hours later with the drugs he was to purchase for me. He was supposed to be back in an hour at least that is what he had promised. Working in the drug culture, you learn to live on what we referred to as “Druggie Time” which basically boiled down to one hour means less than a day or twenty-four hour period of time. Moving ahead briefly to the end of this particular story. The woman who was left with me as collateral died a week later in child birth. The doctors said she went into shock from drug withdrawal in the delivery room and her heart stopped. The baby was delivered C-section, but also died from shock triggered by drug withdrawal, very sad.
On another occasion, I was given a beautiful little three year old girl as collateral. This particular situation was a heartbreaker. The woman and her boyfriend needed drugs and needed them badly. They were so desperate; they were willing to sacrifice their baby girl just to fulfill their cravings. I had just been introduced to this couple. They did not know me from Adam. They did not know whether I was a child abuser, or a cold blooded killer, yet without forethought they handed this young child over to me just to get enough money to score some drugs. They grabbed the money and quickly departed. It was twenty-two hours before they returned. Just imagine what could have happened to that little girl if she was left in the wrong hands. I and another officer basically babysat this child until they returned with the drugs. We then reluctantly gave the child back to them which left us with a feeling of guilt. Working in an undercover capacity you can not react or respond on criminal actions when they occur. Once you do, your undercover position is compromised and the operation is over. Instead, what you do is document everything and photograph what you can in order to obtain arrest warrants at a later date when the operation is completed. Upon completion of the undercover operation, the mother and father in this case were arrested, tried, and convicted. They were each sentenced to 5 years in prison. The little girl was placed in a foster home.
Drugs kill destroying lives, with the children being caught in the crossfire. It happens each and every day. I don’t have the answer to the problem, but I do propose a question. What have you done today to help solve the problem? Until the next time, when I will discuss “Drug Dealing Women and Wild Horses.”
“Caught In The Crossfire”
Dark side of reality filled with pain,
children born without knowing love,
where drug addiction is the only game,
never seeing the light of heaven above.
In the night the little babies will often cry,
Mom and Dad with a needle in their arm,
surviving in the mist of who knows why,
they learn of drug’s hardship and charm.
Bellowing in the hallows of a dark night,
society’s good people put up a deaf ear,
little lives left alone in a constant fright,
tending to themselves they shed a tear.
Struggling little babies fight to survive,
from morning light to the end of the day,
the room in which they live is such a dive,
second fiddle to drugs is their only way.
The forgotten souls lost in passing time,
sad reality of a drug addict’s lonely den,
while we seem to put them from our mind,
suffering will continue to who knows when.
Samuel E. Stone, Copyright© 2008, All Audiences
“Drug Dealing Women and Wild Horses”
By Samuel E. Stone
Prior to “Narcotic Task Forces,” and “Street Gang Task Forces,” the narcotic division was operated out of “The Special Investigation Unit,” known simply as “The SIU.” This unit was responsible for identifying specialized criminal activity. Everything involving organized crime, from white collar crimes to criminal behavior such as prostitution, drug trafficking, extortion, money laundering, loan sharking, pandering, bribery, illegal gambling, contract killings, and any other methodical street crime activity whether gang related or not. My job was Detective Sergeant in charge of The SIU Division.
The method of operation under which The SIU Division operated was divided into six categories, Identification, Strategy, Investigation, Arrest Warrants, Interviews, and Prosecution.
The first step involved identifying the nature of the crime, the principle players, the associates involved from financiers to worker bees, and the structure under which they operated. The second phase of operation was to develop strategies of engagement that would work to infiltrate the organization and to do so with minimal expenditures and risk. The third stage was to initiate an investigation, utilizing undercover operatives, surveillance techniques, confidential informants, subpoenas, search warrants and whatever other tools that were available. The fourth step, came after developing “probable cause,” which is defined as more than a “reasonable suspicion.” This involved obtaining arrest warrants and executing them upon the players involved with whom probable cause had been developed. This phase, however, was more complicated than merely arresting the suspects involved. Each arrested suspect was then interviewed. The interview process was the next step. The goal and object of the interview was to “turn the suspect” in order to have him or her lead you up the ladder to their boss. The final step was preparing to testify in the prosecution of the subjects involved.
Now with that said, we’ll get into the story in a minute, but first I have to tell you one more bit of information. The ones who profit the most from illegal drugs are the financiers. They hardly ever handle the drugs, but take the biggest part of the profits. These are also the hardest ones to catch. The next in the drug chain is the main distributors, who deal with large quantities of drugs. They deal the product directly to the higher level suppliers on the street who filter the drugs down to the street peddlers and user/dealers. The distributors are also very difficult to catch since they only supply large quantities to people they know or known and have done business with for years.
Okay, now for my story, thank you for your patience. On this one particular occasion, there was a woman, I’ll call Mary Sue. The SIU Division had been hearing for years that Mary Sue was a major cocaine distributor in our local area but no one had or would ever give her up (narc her off) and so no case was ever developed against her and she remained no more than a person of interest. Mary Sue was a mother of two children, a 6 year old boy and a 4 year old girl. She lived on a 20 acre horse ranch with her two children, her boyfriend, and 30 head of horses. Neither she nor her boyfriend worked or had any visible means of support other than her horse business. She would buy, sell, and show horses. It appeared on the surface from the life style, that they lived that she had a very successful horse ranch business. In the area where we live, horses have to be fed hay and grain; there is not enough protein in the pasture grass to sustain them. Hay is not cheap and when you’re feeding a herd of thirty horses, it becomes downright expensive, something that most of us could never afford to do. Still there was nothing more than a suspicion that Mary Sue was a drug distributor, which is until one day The SIU Division got lucky.
Sometimes, in fact more times then I really would like to acknowledge, good police work is no more than getting lucky and having the insight to realize an opportunity has presented itself. The only skill involved is the initiative to take the steps to act upon it. On this Spring day, a patrol unit responded to a one car minor injury accident only to discover the driver to be carrying a concealed semi-automatic revolver without a permit and under the influence of alcohol and drugs. To make matters worse for the driver, searching the vehicle “incident to arrest” the officer discovered a dozen one ounce bags of cocaine and several thousand dollars in cash. Now according to state law, it is a mandatory five year prison sentence if you are caught with a felony amount of drugs and a firearm. The Patrol Officer notified The SIU Division and arrangements were made to bring the suspect in to be interviewed.
The subject was a 32 year old, white male, I’ll call him David. He had never been in trouble with the law. This was his first encounter with the police, even though he had worked his way up to becoming an upper-level cocaine supplier over the past six years. Learning this history about David actually placed him at the top of the list to play, “let’s make a deal.” You see, having never experienced the system made David a prime candidate. He was after all, intelligent enough to know that he was in trouble and facing a mandatory five year minimum prison sentence. He was scared, nervous, and did not want to go to jail. He wanted this to go away, or at least to minimize the impact it would have on his life.
David was advised of his Miranda rights, to which he acknowledge he understood. I could see he was physically shaken. He immediately asked if there was anything he could do to get out of his situation, stating he really was not a bad person. He was told up front the possession of cocaine charges were not going away but if he was willing to cooperate, the possession of a firearm with the mandatory minimum 5 years part could be removed from the charge. He would be allowed to plead guilty to a simple felony possession, which still carried a prison sentence, but with a much less sentence. He found some relief in this and asked what he had to do. He was informed that we wanted his “supplier,” the person he has been getting his cocaine from for the past six years. He paused for a moment, and then threw his hands up in the air. “Wait a minute; what are you trying to do, get me killed dead? She’ll have me killed, you don’t know these people.” He caught my interest saying “she.” My mind was redirected to Mary Sue; I wondered if the “She” could be her. We sat there in silence for a few minutes. I turned to David, and stated, “You know, drug dealers operate on putting a sense of fear into those they deal with, I’m sure you have probably done the same thing. The fact of the matter is, you are going down for felony possession of cocaine with the intent to sell while in possession of a firearm. The question here is how serious do you view the threat to your life against the mandatory five years in prison.” There was silence in the room which seemed to last for the longest time, then the silence was broken. “Oh man, oh man, okay, well, okay, I’ll do it. I’ll do it. My supplier is Mary Sue. She is a major distributor dealing kilos of cocaine. I purchase two to five kilos a week from her. In fact, I’m set to meet her in the morning to pick up another four kilos.” He was rubbing his hands together, weaving back and forth in the chair. “Oh man!!!” he repeated.
“Okay here is what we are going to do. I’m going to have you write out a statement concerning your involvement with Mary Sue including all the details. Then we’re going to get a warrant for you to wear a wire (recording device) when you meet with her in the morning.” We worked out the details. He wasn’t happy about wearing a wire, but we convinced him it was in his best interest.
The next morning everything was set. Myself and the other officers in my squad laid back in surveillance mode as David, wearing a wire, went in and met with Mary Sue. He purchased the four kilos of cocaine. The entire drug transaction was recorded on tape via the wire. The money David used for the purchase was marked by us prior to the drug buy so that it could be identified after the buy went down.
The drug transaction went down smoothly and upon its completion we moved in and arrested Mary Sue. To my surprise I found her to be friendly and cooperative. The first words out of her mouth were, “I knew this day would come! How about me, I’m ready to deal, with two young children the last thing I want to do is go to prison! I can give you my supplier out of Los Angeles, in fact, if you can keep me out of prison I’ll arrange for him to personally bring the cocaine up to me. What do you say, Love?” she said acting as calm as can be. “See my horses, aren’t they beautiful wild things?” She said with a smile on her face. Until next time, when I will discuss the “The L.A. Connection.”
Samuel E. Stone, Copyright© 2008, All Audiences
“The L.A. Connection”
In my last article we left off with the arrest of a major cocaine distributor by the name of Mary Sue. She was a multi kilo dealer who had been supplying cocaine throughout the county for years. After her arrest, the first words out of her mouth were, “I knew this day would come! How about me, I’m ready to deal, with two young children the last thing I want to do is go to prison! I can give you my supplier out of Los Angeles, in fact, if you can keep me out of prison I’ll arrange for him to personally bring the cocaine up to me. What do you say, Love?” She asked acting as calm as can be. “See my horses, aren’t they beautiful wild things?” she said with a smile on her face.
Police work, especially narcotic investigations never failed to amaze me. You can work so hard without ever getting anywhere. It can be downright frustrating. Then, when one case breaks sometimes it opens up new doors of opportunity which just happened to be the case this time.
We quickly and quietly secured the scene. We took Mary Sue to an out of the way motel. The SIU (Special Investigation Unit) used discreet locations for interviews and debriefings in order to maintain secrecy while planning and gathering intelligence. If we were going to use Mary Sue to turn over her connection, we had to do it fast. Word travels quickly in the drug community and it would not be long before everyone knew that she had been arrested.
Upon arrival at the safe location we got right down to business with Mary Sue. The first question we asked her is, “Why she thought she would be able to lure her supplier in Los Angeles up here?” She was calm and collected as she attempted to seize control of the conversation with the first words out of her mouth. “First, I have to know what kind of deal you’re willing to make with me before I say anything. Tell me that you’ll let me walk and I’ll give you my supplier, I promise.” She said with a pouting smile on her face. I shook my head. “No you answer our questions and we’ll tell you what we are willing to do for you, then you can decide whether you really want to try and help yourself or not.” Without a moment’s hesitation, she said “Okay.”
“You know those 40 kilos you just found at my house, well, they came from a shipment I received of 50 kilos three days ago. I haven’t paid for them yet. I was supposed to leave tomorrow to drive down to L.A. but now you have all the drugs and all my money which puts me between a rock and a hard spot. I’m screwed no matter what so I got a plan.” “Go on tell us your plan,” I encouraged.
“Well, I’ll call him up and tell him I did not like the quality of the stuff this time. I’ll act like a bitchy woman and tell him I think he was trying to screw me over. I’ll tell him that I’m not going to pay him. I know this man. He is one hardcore ass. He’ll come unglued. Trust me; I know how to play him. He’ll be on the next plane here. Wait, wait... I know I can make it even better. I’ll tell him I have his money, but he has to replace the kilos I have for good ones. He’ll do it! I know I can get him to do it.” Mary Sue sighed as she looked at me for approval.
The next two hours were spent taking a formal statement from Mary Sue and working out a deal that was acceptable to her. Basically the deal hinged on her success. She was to set up the supplier. A guy named Albert. The deal was to catch Albert in the process of exchanging good cocaine for the cocaine Mary Sue claimed to be poor quality. The entire transaction would be caught on audio and video tape. Mary Sue also had to agree to testify concerning her involvement in the cocaine ring as well as testify against Albert.
The prosecutor worked a deal out with Mary Sue. The prosecutor would recommend one year in the County jail which could be served on work release, and five years probation. She also would have to perform 5000 hours of community service in return for her cooperation. The deal hinged on Mary Sue’s success in assisting us in making a case against Albert. It wasn’t an hour after the prosecutor agreed to a deal with Mary Sue that she was on the phone to Albert. She had a gift of manipulation, fluctuating from sensual and sexy to downright bitchy and bossy.
She hung up the phone and smiled. Placing her hands on her hips, she stated, “He’ll be here in the morning!” I had a puzzled look on my face as I asked about the drugs. “Don’t worry. It’s all taken care of, Love.” She responded as she continued, “Albert is sending the drugs by overnight express to the Embassy hotel where he will have the Executive’s suite reserved for himself and little ole’ me.” She laughed, “He thinks he’s going to get lucky with me.” She began to crack up laughing. “What’s so funning,” I asked? “Well, he is partly right, he’s going to get screwed by me, just not in the good way,” she said still chuckling.
We had to work fast. We verified that he had reserved the Executive suite. This process alone was a tricky task since the suite was reserved under an alias. Mary Sue had briefed us that when Albert traveled for business he did so under one or two alias. We watched for both and one of the names came across making the reservation. Next we obtained a wire tap to set up surveillance. The Executive suite was located on the top floor. There were only two suites on this floor, the Executive and the Regal suite. Lucky for us, the other suite had not been booked. We reserved the Regal suite for operations. This helped us overcome the obstacle of containment. The tricky part was to set up operations without alerting the hotel staff which could breach security and the safety of the operation. It took the better part of the night to get our surveillance equipment all in place, but by morning we were ready for Albert’s arrival. We set up surveillance cameras in the Executive suite so that we could monitor and capture both movement and sound. We also wired up Mary Sue and marked the money she was to present to Albert in payment of the drugs. The Regal suite was set up as command center for monitoring operations as well as a staging point for the entry team when the drug deal went down. I positioned two officers in the lobby of the hotel to watch for Albert’s arrival and also the arrival of the overnight express package containing the drugs.
The plan was for the surveillance team in the lobby to alert us as to when Albert and the drugs arrived. We would then send Mary Sue in to meet with Albert. She was to convince Albert that they were to conduct their business before engaging in pleasure and not to take “No” for an answer. Once the money and cocaine were switched Mary Sue was to exit to the bathroom to freshen up. She was instructed to go into the bathroom and lock the door. She was told to lie down in the bathtub and wait. Advising her that an officer would come and get her after the arrest was made and it was safe.
The main part of this operation which concerned me was the overnight express of the drugs to the hotel. I just found it hard to believe that the drug dealers would feel safe using overnight express. Mary Sue informed me that they used overnight express all the time because it put them at limited risk of getting caught. They would always use assumed names, and always express the packages to hotels or motels. The only requirement for an overnight express delivery is a name and a physical street address. Motels and hotels have physical street addresses. Mary Sue remarked, “Sometimes we don’t even rent a room, we just watch the hotel from the lobby and wait for the delivery truck to arrive. After the delivery is made, we wait a little longer to make sure the cops don’t show up. If all seems safe, we walk up to the front desk and ask if they have a package for, whatever name we used on the package. The hotel clerk hands us the package, no questions asked and we leave. It’s simple, it’s clean, and it’s the safest way of ensuring that you don’t get busted.” I could not get over the fact that there was such a breach in our system that allowed drugs to be sent in this manner. It just astonished me, but that morning the overnight express truck arrived on schedule with the package we were waiting to see delivered. The bust went down with artistic beauty, smooth, simple with minimal risk and Albert was placed into custody.
I went to Mary Sue’s sentencing after she pleaded guilty and spoke on her behalf. It was my intention to persuade the judge into giving her the sentence agreed upon for her cooperation and help in bringing down a major drug supplier. We were concerned that the judge might not go along with the recommendation due to the amount of drugs Mary Sue had been dealing. We wanted to help in living up to our part of the agreement. To the prosecutor’s and my surprise, the judge sentenced Mary Sue to probation only, no jail time, and 5000 hours of community service. We expected she would get a year of County jail time as opposed to being sentenced to prison, but she got neither. Mary Sue spent the next six months giving talks and lectures about the evils of drugs as part of her community service. She then just seemed to vanish from sight.
Sadly, two years later I received a call from D.E.A. (Drug Enforcement Agency) requesting a meeting. I met with the officers who informed me of a six-month investigation they had conducted involving Mary Sue supplying large amounts of cocaine to local street dealers. They were about to raid her residence and execute arrest and search warrants. They requested my assistance since I had worked with Mary Sue in the past. We arrived at Mary Sue’s residence a few hours later and she was once again arrested without incident. A large quantity of cocaine and money was recovered at the scene. An arresting officer brought Mary Sue in handcuffs out of the residence. I approached Mary Sue. She smiled and said, “You know raising horses’ just costs a lot of money.” And she shrugged her shoulders. Mary Sue refused to cooperate with the Federal investigation, stating she knew no one could help her this time. She was sentenced to ten years. Well that is it until next times when I talk about, “Never Run out of Bullets in a Gun Fight” remember to be safe and be happy.
Samuel E. Stone, Copyright© 2007, All Audiences
“Never Run 0ut of Bullets In a Gun Fight”
I’ve heard it said that where there is money to be made greed and violence will always follow. This statement especially holds true in the business of buying and selling drugs. Drug dealers and users live and breathe paranoia. It simply goes with the territory. They live in constant fear of getting ripped off. They know their buyers will stop at nothing to get their required fix. In order to protect themselves, the majority of the drug dealers carry concealed weapons. Some even go as far as to hire armed body guards to protect them and their business interests.
The first time I worked undercover, I was amazed at the fire power on the streets. The drug dealers and user-dealers as well, not only armed themselves with a gun or two, they armed themselves with semi to fully automatic machine pistols such as Inter-Tec 9 mm’s, Mac 10's and Mac 11's. These machine pistols hold 32 round clips and sometimes even more ammunition, which in actuality creates a serious problem for local law enforcement. The truth be told if you are ever in a gun fight the one who runs out of ammunition first is most likely to lose.
Law Enforcement officers are trained to win. The public and community depend on the police to take charge and handle any situation which might arise. Police personnel cannot afford to play a win/lose game. Not that enforcement is a game, but I think you understand what I am saying. Police officers whether undercover or in uniform patrolling the streets must always control the situation in order to achieve a win/win solution. Progressive police departments are constantly training their officers in psychology profiling, physical fitness, tactically maneuvers, and technical- know- how to ensure a desirable outcome no matter what situation they might encounter..
During my career in Law Enforcement, except when I was working deep cover, I would train on the police shooting range once a month. The combat pistol range was designed to promote efficiency, and confidence, while instilling a feeling that “you’ve been there before.” The feeling of having been there before is the most importance element in instinctive shooting. The police shooting program by design, sets the standard for instinctive, accurate, accountable and controlled shooting. If a police officer is involved in a shooting he must react instinctively, his life and those around him depends on it. If he takes time to think about it, he most likely will not survive. He cannot just burst out rounds or fire at will like on television or in the movies.. He must make every shot count. He must not only hit the target he is aiming at, keep track of how many rounds he fires, but also know exactly where each round went. An officer is accountable for everything and anything that comes in the path of his projected round. Firing your service revolver requires not only accuracy, confidence, and accountability it also requires the utmost in complete concentration. The act of engagement is not random, but rather it is a conscious controlled act designed to accomplish a specific task.
Now back to undercover work. Undercover work is the performance of certain tasks in order to infiltrate a target, gather evidence, and effect an arrest of the individuals involved. Due to the large volume of money involved and the violent nature of the individuals one encounters, your chances of becoming engaged in a shooting incident increases greatly. Knowing this fact beforehand can help the undercover agent avoid putting himself in a position that unfortunately could result in a shooting situation. Sadly, however, the officer cannot prevent the incident from happening if it comes down to it. I must add, however, being prepared and knowing when to act can often times prevent situations from happening.
On this one occasion I was in the process of completing my first tour of duty in a deep cover operation. This operation had lasted almost two years. The reports had all been filed and arrest warrants were issued for over 100 individuals involved in this organized crime family. The individuals to be arrested were involved in running topless clubs as a front for their prostitution, drug dealing, and loan sharking endeavors. I also had some of the players linked to murder and extortion charges within my jurisdiction. My final job was to arrest this crime boss but not until setting up and completing a multi-kilo drug buy from him. I had spent the last year and a half being his body-guard and right hand man. I had developed evidence and purchased drugs throughout his entire organization. I had convinced him that I wanted to branch out as one of his major distributors. He took the bait. He knew I carried a shoulder holster with a 9 mm semi-auto pistol. I intentionally left the chamber empty in this gun, just in case the time would come that this weapon was taken away from me. This move would afford me a few seconds to react and possibly the opportunity to reach for one of the other two guns I carried on my person. I carried a Walter PPK 380 cal. in the small of my back and a small 22 cal. pistol in a knife case on my belt. No one knew about these other two guns. On this particular occasion I was wearing an electronic wire that transmitted the conversations. The arrest team was hiding in close proximity to where the drug deal was to go down. I was to say a code word which would tell the arrest team to come in and affect the arrest.
In this world, unfortunately, the best made plans have a way of falling apart. The drug and money exchange went off without a hitch. Then, it all turned. I spoke out the code word for the responding units to come in, but no one came. The target decided he was going to leave with the money. He walked out and got into his car. I had to do something. I went to the passenger door and opened the door. He looked at me with a puzzled look on his face and asked me if there was a problem. I could not let him leave; after all, I was responsible for the money something my supervisor reminded me of over and over again. So, with hesitation, I pulled my badge. I grabbed my PPK from my belt the one with a round in the chamber. I told this crime boss he was under arrest. To my surprise, I portrayed my undercover status too well. He did not believe I was a cop. In fact, he just laughed. He wanted to know where I got the badge. Just then, while I was arguing with him trying to convince him I was a cop, one of his associates pulled up in a small convertible. I knew this subject and he was bad news. He was always armed and extremely dangerous. From my investigations, I had this subject linked to two murders. I grabbed my 9 mm from my shoulder holster and the gun that did not have a round in the chamber and pointed it at him. I yelled at him that if he moved his hands off the steering wheel I would shoot and he would be dead.
Little did I know, a Coast Guard helicopter was traveling overhead talking on their radio. Their radio traffic blocked out the transmissions from the wire I was wearing so the response units had no idea of what was going down. The time that passed was only a minute or two but it seemed like an eternity. I knew the crime boss was also armed; he carried a 1911 Springfield 45 cal. I just kept talking to both of them while holding a gun on each of them. I was standing crosswise by the passenger door attempting to keep an eagle eye on both of the suspects which in actuality was an impossible task. I thought to myself if the guy in the convertible went for his gun I would have to cross my arms over and shoot him with my PPK. There would be no time to waste and I did not have a free hand to crank a round into the chamber of the 9mm. I kept talking or I should say yelling at the two individuals mainly to distract them and hopefully prevent either one of them from going for their weapon. I yelled, “if either one of you make a sudden move, I’ll waste the both of you! I’m a cop, for real, I’m a cop! I won’t hesitate to kill you!” My voice was loud, but uncannily calm and matter of fact. In reflecting back on the situation, I believe it was the composure of my actions that prevented them from going for their weapons. Now, don’t get me wrong, I was scared to death and shaking on the inside. My adrenalin was pumping. My outward appearance, however, portrayed me as being calm and collected. I contribute the demeanor I demonstrated to my training and years of experience. There is a lot to be said to the statement “been there before,” that allows a person to response and react to a given situation.
Finally, the Coast Guard helicopter passed overhead and the arrest team picked up the radio traffic from the wire I was wearing and came rushing in. The two subjects were both arrested without incident. And, yes, they were both armed! In fact the guy in the convertible not only had a 9 mm pistol in a shoulder holster on his person, he also had a Inter-Tec-9 with a fully loaded 40 round clip under the seat. If I had made the wrong move, said the wrong thing, or came across scared to them, it could have triggered them to act and I might not be here today to write this article.
I firmly believe that during my twenty-five years in law enforcement, the good Lord watched over me and my Guardian Angel stayed focused on protecting me. I was involved in many altercations involving suspects with guns. Twice I had subjects try to pull guns on me only to have them get hung up in their coats allowing me the edge to apprehend them. On two other occasions I was involved in shoot outs where if I had ran out of ammunition I would have surely lost. So now remember, you never want to run out of bullets in a gun fight or it might be the last thing that you will ever do upon this earth. My next article is entitled “Traitors in the Ranks.” Working undercover is dangerous to say the least, but what happens when one or more of your own is working for the dark side?
Samuel E. Stone, Copyright© 2007, All Audiences
“Traitor in the Ranks”
(This is the ninth in a series of articles about illegal
drugs and the impact they have on every one of us.)
Working undercover is dangerous but what happens when one or more of your own is working for the dark side? You know, I have to say that I never once gave this matter a thought until one day while working deep cover. I had been working undercover for about six months and had infiltrated this organized crime family that was involved in running topless clubs and a variety of illegal activities. The crime boss introduced me to one of his so called “captains” who was responsible for handling their “business” in a bordering state. I was employed at this time as a body guard to the crime boss, so after the introduction, I just sat back out of the way and listened to the conversation between the two men. I was taken back with what I heard. Apparently, this visiting Captain, who I will call Bill, was up here to go to his lifelong best friend’s daughter’s wedding. Now, get this, I about fell off my chair! His best friend was the patrol chief in my department! The two men joked about his “best friend,” and what a valuable asset he has been to their organization over the years. I felt sick to my stomach with the realization that I could have already been burned.
It was three days later before I was able to get away and contact my Chief of Detectives, who for all intent and purpose was my handler. Now, a “handler” is the only person in the department with whom you have contact with when working undercover in deep cover operations. I had not been able to sleep since learning about the patrol chief’s relationship with the crime figure. I met with my handler in a remote location which we had both previously agreed upon. I told him of the intelligence information I had obtained in regards to the patrol chief. He shook his head and told me to relax. He said that he was not aware of the relationship between these individuals, but he had his suspicions about the patrol chief over the years. He again told me to relax, that the only ones who knew where I was working or what I was involved in was he and the special prosecutor assigned to the Special Investigation Unit. Now these two individuals were both people I knew personally and trusted. This factor made me feel better about the situation. I took a sigh of relief.
Just then the Chief told me that we may still have problems. If the patrol chief shows up down at the topless place or at a function they have somewhere, I’d better make myself invisible. He remarked it would be prudent not to let the patrol captain see me. I had to agree with him but then wondered if the opportunity would arise to allow me to disappear without being seen by the patrol captain.
After my conversation with my handler, I felt better. I went back to the topless club that afternoon with some apprehension. Working undercover you learn to improvise, but you’re not a miracle worker. I had to keep my wits about me and be very observant. Even so, there are no guarantees. I could only hope and pray that I did not run into the patrol chief.
Well, all my wishing, hoping, and praying didn’t really help or maybe it did. About three days later the crime boss had a barbeque at his lake house located out in the middle of nowhere. It was an A frame mansion. He designed it himself. He spared no expense. It was beautiful, big, rich, and remote. The remote part is the part that worried me. No one would hear the screams, the cries, the shouts, or the shots. Over the time I worked for him, I learned personally of more than one poor soul who met their demise at this remote location. I did not want to be added to that list.
The barbeque was in honor of Bill, the crime captain I previously mentioned. It was his last night before he headed back to his home state. I did not have a clue who would be present at this party. I could not refuse to go and I did not know what I was going to do if the patrol chief showed up at the party. It wasn’t long, however, until I was to find out.
About an hour into the party, the patrol chief arrived. Luckily, I overheard the crime boss and Bill talking about him showing up. This put my heart into overdrive with an adrenalin rush and put me on a watchful alert. I knew I had to invent some sort of excuse to get out of the party prior to the patrol captain’s arrival. Just when I was at a loss, an opportunity arose for me to improvise. There was this old high school buddy of the crime boss named John. The crime boss kept him around as his flunky and gopher. He showed up at the party stoned and drunk. He was rather obnoxious and arrogant. He grabbed one of the topless dancers and tried to have his way with her. Now, if he had treated her right it might not have been a problem, but he was rude, crude, and abusive. He began to slap her around and it created a scene. I ran to her rescue and grabbed John just before he slapped her again. I cold cocked him and threw him over my shoulder. I carried him by the crime boss and his party goers, all of whom gave me a look of approval. I told the crime boss that I would take John home and try to make it back later. The crime boss nodded with approval and thanked me. Just as I went to put John in the car, the patrol captain drove up. I ducked and hoped that he did not see or recognize me. Then, to make matters worse, John started to wake up and began wailing about. I punched him again and again, about three or four times until he went unconscious. I hoped that I didn’t hurt him too badly. Actually, the truth of the matter is I didn’t care if I did, he was such an ass. I just didn’t want to kill him or seriously injure him. I had enough on my mind; I did not need that on my conscience as well. I finished throwing him in the car and drove off.
Later that night, I convinced John that I saved his life. He knew his buddy well and he knew that I probably really did save his life. I spent the rest of the evening with John. I needed an excuse to give the crime boss as to why I did not return to the party.
The next afternoon, I returned to the topless club. I walked into the dimly lit room and up to the bar. I asked the bartender where the crime boss was, except I called him by name. He told me that he was back in the cooler with Mario. Mario was one of his hired guns. I got a sinking feeling in the pit of my gut. I wondered if the patrol captain recognized me if my cover was blown. I knew these guys too well and they would kill me in a heartbeat if they knew I was a cop. I knew too much of their operation for them to allow me to live. I walked into the cooler and was met by Mario. He acted tough and somewhat rude all the time. He greeted me with a comment on how bad I looked. I commented that if he had to take care of John, he wouldn’t be looking good either. We both laughed. Just then the crime boss yelled, “Keep your badge in your pocket, I want to show you something.” My heart sank; did the patrol chief blow my cover? I thought to myself. Then, I just reacted with a comeback, “ah and which pocket would that be?” I laughed, as I reached around and felt all my pockets. Then, we all laughed. I took that to be a good thing and felt a moment of relief. The crime boss then took me into the walk-in freezer which was located off the walk-in cooler. There on the floor laid the landlord of the building the topless club occupied. He was frozen and about as dead as dead can be.
“The poor sap just refused to sell me the building, he left me no choice.” The crime boss said shaking his head. “Tonight after dark, we’re going to haul his body out into the woods. When and if the cops find him, they will think he fell, bumped his head and then died of hypothermia. The poor old guy,” the crime boss laughed. I smiled and said. “Well, I guess that means you’ll be buying the building.” He laughed as he remarked, “that is the plan.”
I was lucky. The Captain came around on two other occasions, but I was able to avoid being seen by him. He never found out that I was working in the topless club until after the warrants were issued and the arrests began. I don’t know to this day for certain whether he would have burned me or not, but then I did not want to take that chance. Years later when I was involved in another undercover operation, it suddenly was cut short. It was the belief, at the time, that this patrol captain had something to do with closing down the operation before it’s time. Rumor had it; we were getting too close to some influential people that were protected.
Now I want you to know when working undercover one always is scared, worried, and concerned that his cover will be or is blown. It goes with the territory. I was no exception. The entire time I worked undercover, in fact, both tours of duty, I lived in constant fear that my true identity would be exposed. They say it is not paranoia if a real threat exists. Working undercover the threat is real and it is constant. You just never know. The funny thing with this operation is that when we finally did bring down the crime boss, he would not believe I actually was a cop. I took him down on a multi-kilo cocaine buy. I showed him my badge and he just laughed. He wanted to know where I got the badge, remarking that it looked real. He then told me to stop fooling around and would not believe that I actually was a cop. I couldn’t believe it, especially after all my worrying. In the real world, life is scary; it’s also funny, as well as an adventure where you just never know. Well, thanks for listening. I hope you enjoyed another one of the stories of my life as an undercover cop. Next time I will bring you, “Vicious Dogs and Dangerous People,” a sad but true story.
Samuel E. Stone, Copyright© 2007, All Audiences
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