Showing posts with label undercover. Show all posts
Showing posts with label undercover. Show all posts

29 January 2023

Simple Mathematics


Mathematics is derived from two Greek words:

    'Manthanein' meaning 'learning' and 'techne' meaning 'an art' or 'technique.'

Mathematics simply means to learn or study or gain knowledge. The theories and concepts given in mathematics help us understand and solve various types of problems in academic as well as in real life situations. Mathematics is a subject of logic.

So, now let's see how we can use mathematics to reduce real life undercover situations to simple equations.

Our first equation would look like this:  IM + T = PD

IM stands for Informant Motivation which has several subsets

    Revenge: the informant wants revenge on a criminal because of a real or imagined hurt

    Money:  The informant wants or needs money and therefore is willing to work for law                         enforcement on a limited basis

    Leniency:  the informant has a case against him and is cooperating to get less or no time                        on his sentence 

    Rival:  the informant wants to cripple or get rid of a rival criminal/criminal organization

    Public Minded:  the informant doesn't want this particular criminal/criminal organization                       in his neighborhood

    Profession:  yes, there are informants who travel from city to city and work this as their                         profession

T stands for Trust. If the informant is in good standing with the criminal/criminal organization, then more than likely when the informant introduces the undercover agent to the criminal/criminal organization, they will accept the undercover agent.

    NOTE: T does not mean that the undercover agent or agency should blindly trust the informant. Think about it. The informant is scamming the people he is introducing the undercover agent to, so sooner or later he may start scamming the agent and enticing him into a bad situation or even breaking the law in some fashion. After all, a criminal has no better currency for getting out of a jam than to offer up a corrupt cop.

The Russians have an old proverb, "trust, but verify."

As we Americans have recently applied this saying to China, "distrust and verify."

PD represents our Potential Defendant. Now, put it all together. A motivated informant (IM) who is trusted (T) means that an undercover agent should be able to acquire whatever evidence or contraband goods are needed to end up with the arrest of a potential defendant (PD).

Our second equation would look like this:  O + G =BB

    O represents opportunity

    G is the target's greed

    BB means buy bust

Here's an example of Opportunity. A hashish dealer travels to the Middle East, scores several blocks of blond Lebanese hashish, conceals the hashish in the walls of three smuggler's trunks, ships one trunk to a friend's house in Miami and the other two trunks to his unsuspecting mother in Sioux City, Iowa. Unfortunately for him, Customs has drilled a hole in one wall of each trunk and retrieved core samples of hashish.

The one trunk is delivered to the friend's house in Florida, the recipients open the trunk with glee, but soon spy the the drilled hole and flee out the back door. They are as they say, "in the wind."

The other two trunks are delivered to mom's house in Sioux City. Dear old Mom is soon reading a search warrant and wondering what the heck is going on. Law enforcement remove the trunks and recover two letters from prospective buyers of the hashish. These two letters, containing the prospective buyer's telephone numbers, provide the opportunity.

Now comes the Greed. I use the first telephone number to call the wannabe buyer in Omaha. I explain that the big dealer is currently taking care of business in Florida and therefore he has asked me to make some calls to deliver the hash from the other two trunks. How much would he like to purchase? We arrange for me to call him in the near future to set up a time and place for the transfer of hashish and money. Now remember, this is the first time this guy has met me and that's over the phone. Greed has blinded him from taking precautions. He gets a warning call before I call him back and he subsequently joins the In The Wind Program. Lucky him.

I call the second number, located in Des Moines, not part of our Resident Office territory. This future arrestee arranges to meet me in in a tavern. He describes himself, sets the time and place and says he will be sitting at the bar. All is agreed, but since our agency has temporarily run out of travel funds, I contact an agent in our Des Moines office and provide him with the details. He and his partner only have one block of black hashish available to them from old evidence, so they wrap up some slender telephone books to make it look like they have more. The agent meets the future arrestee in the bar. They talk. Future arrestee mentions that the agent's voice sounds different than on the phone. That should have been his first clue, but greed intervened.

They go out to the parking lot. Agent takes the block of real hashish to the future arrestee's vehicle. Future arrestee's partner goes to the government car where 2nd agent waits with the rest of the hashish blocks (wrapped up phone books). After future arrestee sees the real hashish sample block then the exchange will take place. Future arrestee mentions the hashish is black instead of blond. That should have been his second clue. Agent makes up story. Once again, greed overrules good sense. The idiot produces the money, and since we can't let the hashish walk, the agents bust them, seize their money and vehicle and return the hashish to old evidence. Thus, Opportunity (on our part) plus Greed (on their part) equals a Buy Bust.

These simple equations can also be applied to plots for crime, mystery or spy stories, merely change the circumstances.


30 October 2016

What's in a Name?

For most people, their name and their reputation go hand in hand. Someone mentions a person by name and another person in that conversation automatically recalls whatever information they know or have heard about that name. If it is something honest or good about the name then fine. However, if the receiver in that conversation has negative information about that name, or receives derogatory information, then he or she will feel wary about that particular individual. And, therein lies a true story. True as in it actually happened, but...let's just say some of the details were changed, like names, for instance.
We had a federal warrant for a guy named Jerry Goldsmith. Jerry was alleged to be a young up and comer as a Jewish associate to the Kansas City mafia. He supposedly had a legit job working for a local insurance agency, but it was also rumored that he didn't have to show up and do actual work in order to receive a paycheck. In any case, Jerry turned to dealing drugs in order to supplement whatever income he did have. And, that's how the guy came to our attention. Seems one of our agents made a case on Jerry for distribution of several thousand amphetamine tablets, also known on the street as white crosses in the old days. With arrest warrant in hand, my partner and I were sent out to fit the young gentleman with a set of shiny metal bracelets.

Big Jim and I checked out the usual hangouts, but Jerry was nowhere to be found. Last on our list of addresses was an apartment for Jerry's ex-girlfriend over on the Missouri side of the river. Her residence was in a two-story, red brick, four-plex. We knocked on the front door at ground level. A young woman came to the door. "Yes, that's me," she said, "but Jerry isn't here."

While we were talking with her, a four year old boy appeared at his mother's side. "Daddy?" he inquired. "Yeah, he's upstairs."

Jerry, who must have been listening to our conversation while he stayed just out of sight at the head of the stairs, now descended to the front door. At this point, Big Jim and I took Jerry into custody and read him his Miranda Rights. As the cuffs went on, Jerry did not take his new circumstances well, nor did he choose to employ his right to silence. Since it looked like it was not going to be a quiet ride to the holding cell anyway, I took this opportunity to remind Jerry that his immediate situation was his own fault. I'm sure he expected a lecture about the long term consequences of dealing drugs, however, what he got was something closer to home. "Jerry," I said, "you really should have married the little guy's mother and made him legitimate. Cuz it was your own son who gave you up to the law."

Jerry was quiet for a few heartbeats while he digested that thought, but then he started up again with his loud tirade. Seems I'd touched on a new sore spot.

The man was so disagreeable that a few months later, I started using a close variation of his name whenever I went undercover to buy drugs and make cases on dealers and their distribution organizations. For the next several years, even though Jerry was sitting in a federal pen staring out through iron bars, his name got used a lot. By the time Jerry got out on parole, his name was mud. Nobody trusted him as far as doing business with him in the criminal world. For years after, I often wondered if I'd helped Jerry keep to the straight and narrow path in his later life when he'd returned to the civilian world.

One of the main goals of U.S. Parole and Probation for its many clients is to guide each of those clients towards leading an honest life. One of their requirements is for said client to remove himself from his old ways and distance himself from his previous criminal companions. To accomplish this goal, the parole/probation agent tries to accentuate the positive aspects of doing so. I, on the other hand, I guess you could say, was on the other end of the balance, letting Jerry know in my own fashion that there were some negative repercussions waiting for him if he tried to return to his old environment, repercussions that had nothing to do with the threat of him going back to prison. It's a known factor on the streets that some hard core criminals don't take kindly to those low lifes who have allegedly made cases for the feds, whether they actually did or not.

After all, a rep and a name go hand in hand.

So yeah, I've wondered how Jerry's future went.  Was he smart enough to see the handwriting on the wall and therefore change his ways? Or did he take that long slide back down, the slide that would put him into the high percentage of recidivists where so many other convicts end up? And of course, there's always the cemetery or a car trunk if the bad guys can't take a joke.

Sometimes, it's all in a name.

So now, put on a costume and mask, go out in the world and pretend to be someone else.


30 August 2013

Street Psyche, Part 2

To continue my last post on state of mind or psy-ops while working undercover, here's a tale from the streets of getting into an opponent's head and staying alive. Remember, what you're doing out there may not be real, but you're portraying it as reality so the other side believes it.
Snake (his street name) was a state agent working a large river town known for its criminal past. That evening, he was setting up to do a buy-bust on a cocaine dealer we'll call Sammy Di Luna, a real hardcore street criminal. Snake needed a money man to guard his flash roll, so he invited me in on the deal. All I would probably have to do was sit in the car across the street from the dealer's house until the go-down. Surveillance was made up of local police detectives I hadn't worked with before this deal. They were supposed to set up a couple of blocks away as back up. Everything ready, Snake went into the house, while I waited in the undercover car with my 9mm automatic in one hand and a .357 revolver in the other. All was well.

Ten minutes later, Snake was back to the car. He told me that Di Luna had called a runner to bring a pound of coke to the back door at the side of the house. When the back porch light went off, then Snake was supposed to go back in the house to see what he was buying. He also warned me that standing just inside the kitchen door frame, Di Luna had an AR-15 with the sears filed down so it would operate as an automatic assault rifle. Stuff like that is always comforting to know.

Pretty soon, we observed someone appear at the side door, then leave. The back porch light went off. Snake went inside to see the goods. I got on the concealed radio and warned the surveillance cops about the altered rifle. But then those guys were already aware of Di Luna's rep for violence.

When Snake returned to the car, he said the coke was there. Time for the go-down. I got on the radio and told surveillance to hit the house. In the meantime, to get a head start, Snake and I got out of the car. Di Luna now showed at his front window watching us, so I flashed the money over the top of the vehicle to allay any suspicions on his part. Apparently satisfied, Di Luna left the window and closed the front curtains. Snake and I headed across the sidewalk, up the cement steps, across the short front lawn and onto the front porch.

Surveillance arrived and took up positions. Turned out, they weren't keen on hitting houses containing violent felons. They positioned themselves behind trees and cement objects well away from the door, leaving Snake and I as sole occupants of the porch to make any entry. Not the type of gung-ho cops I was used to working with. By this time, Di Luna looked out the window to see what was taking so long to give him his money. He quickly locked his front door.

It wasn't any time to delay entry and give Di Luna opportunity to flush the coke. Snake held the screen door open while I started kicking at the door and hollering FEDERAL AGENTS at the top of my lungs. Damn door was solid oak. Took several kicks to crack it open. By now, Di Luna had retreated to the back of the house, probably where his rifle was located. I finally stepped into his living room with a big pistol in each hand and bellowed that he was under arrest. Don't know if his mind got frozen by all the loud noises, he thought the situation out and decided to go with the live-to-fight-another-day philosophy or if he firmly believed he had suddenly met someone as crazy as he was even though he clearly had superior firepower. (I picked the last.) In any case, his head slowly appeared around the kitchen doorway. He peered into the living room, then his empty hands showed. Shaking his head, he surrendered.

Snake and I cuffed him, took him down to the police station and into the processing room, a small enclosure with one door and no windows. After fingerprinting Di Luna, Snake let me know he wanted to have a conversation with the prisoner to make sure his informant didn't get harmed later. I stepped back and those two had their conversation, but it didn't go well. Snake looked at me, so I figured to give it a try. Using short words and direct speech, I made it plain that the informant was to come to no harm. Di Luna smiled and said, "Yeah, well what about...?" and he brought up the name of an informant used by the city cops in this same river town against a motorcycle gang president, but who was killed later in a different state while working for another agency. In his own sly way, Di Luna was trying to tell us something we didn't want to hear.

I tried a different tack. Using the speech that Don Corleone used in the Godfather to let his enemies know that as part of the truce he was bringing his youngest son home and would not accept any accidents, even lightning or being shot by a cop, I told Di Luna we too weren't accepting anything that even looked like an accident. Same reply from this hard core criminal still being sly.

Last resort, I took off my long-sleeve denim shirt and bullet proof vest. (In those days, the vests did not protect the wearer from rifle bullets, so it wouldn't have done me much good in Di Luna's living room anyway.) Then I handed my pistol to Snake and asked him to wait outside. At that point, Di Luna let us both know he understood what we were saying. This time he was serious, the slyness was gone.

How far would I have gone? Not far. We weren't and aren't allowed to beat up prisoners. Worst case scenario, I'd have had to come up with some kind of snappy retort that movie heroes have screenwriters for and then found an excuse for not following through on an implied threat. What the hell, I had two things going for me on the way in. One, people in the past have told me I have hard eyes. It's a look that unsettles some people, criminals included. Two, I'd already bluffed out Di Luna in his own living room. Figured I had the mental edge to do it one more time. Call it a second round of psy-ops. I'm not a tough guy, I merely projected that image once upon a time period in my life.

There's probably some of you out there wondering now if maybe Sammy Di Luna wasn't as tough as his reputation led others to believe and that's why he backed down. Maybe he was hard on the outside and all soft jelly when it came to actual blood letting. So, here's the rest of the story as I got it from detectives years later.

Shortly after Di Luna served his time and got out, he and his old partner in the cocaine trade were playing pool in a dirt floor bar in that same river town. They had a few beers and walked out into the parking lot with Di Luna's arm around the shoulders of his old friend. Turned out Di Luna had been holding a grudge for his old partner having brought Snake into the fold even though his partner was not the informant. Whipping out a long-blade folding knife, Di Luna cut his old partner's throat and bleed him out in the parking lot.

Hey, on second thought, maybe I just got lucky on using a quick psy-ops concept on that crazy guy in his own living room, but it seemed like the thing to do at the time. In any case, the winners get to tell the story in their own way and go home at night. The losers, well they usually get to walk around muttering to themselves in a confined space.

Ride easy until next time.

16 August 2013

Street Psyche, Part 1

by R.T. Lawton

When you're working the streets, it helps to have a certain mind set. Perhaps one of the best ways to explain this matter of the mind is to use a portion of Wikipedia's definition of Psy-Ops: "Various techniques are influence a target audience's...belief systems, emotions, motives, reasoning or behavior. It is used to...reinforce attitudes and behaviors favorable to the originator's objectives... Target audiences can be...organizations, groups and individuals."

Whereas psy-ops is generally a technique employed by the military in order to out maneuver the enemy, law enforcement and undercover agents also find it useful on a smaller scale. Here's a couple of examples which fit the definition, one for fun and games and the other as self-protection.

We knew where a smack house was operating in Kansas City, but at the time we didn't have any informants who could go into that particular house and make a heroin buy to give us probable cause for a search warrant. But then, the dealers in that house weren't aware we had that problem. So, for fun and games, we designed a little play action, knowing full well that the opposition kept a lookout at their front window to watch the street, plus they located their stash of several ounces close to their bathroom toilet for a quick flush should The Man suddenly appear at their place of business.

One nice summer day, to play with their minds, we had a car with two agents suddenly come screeching up to the curb in front of their house. The two jumped out of the car, loudly slammed the vehicle doors and ran towards the front door (covering a lot of distance from side to side) while screaming FEDERAL AGENTS. It was said later, that the dealer's toilet got a good workout before the two agents inexplicably turned around, quietly walked back to their vehicle and drove off. Then we waited a week.

The next time, the car had four agents decked out in bright blue raid jackets come screeching up to the curb. Loud door slams again. Screaming, the agents ran as far as the edge of the front porch before turning and walking back to their vehicle. Once again, the toilet saw lots of action. After that, we gave them two weeks to calm down.

The third time, we used two cars of agents in raid jackets. And, every time after that, we escalated the appearance of an actual raid by sending more cars, more agents, even having some of the vehicles jump the curb to imply this time was serious. We also varied the times and intervals to keep them off balance.

Eventually, the dealers realized we were playing with them and that much of their illicit profits were literally going down the drain.They gradually became more confident and lackadaisical, even quit flushing their bags of smack when we showed up. We gladly allowed them these little victories of finally beating us.

Then, one day we got an informant into the house for a buy. Shortly afterwards,. we descended upon that house with a search warrant, several cars, a multitude of agents and a sledge hammer for the door. This time we didn't walk away. One agent held the screen door open, the hammer man took it down and the first two-man team went all the way through to the bathroom. To keep the flusher from hitting the handle, they had to body check him into the bath tub. Ouch. Meanwhile, the rest of the teams secured the house and those within it. We got the heroin for evidence in court and had fun playing with their minds while working up to it. Our version of Psy-Ops.

It also helps when you're figuring out your role for undercover.

The majority of times I went under for a buy, I took advantage of the general public's perception of those bad-ass bikers riding Harleys. Even if dealers didn't personally know a biker, they had probably seen some old B-movie depicting bikers as scary dudes who carried guns. And, since I was going to always carry a gun while undercover, I went with the biker image. One, most dealers were careful how they treated me, and two, if anyone happened to see the handgun in my waistband, they were more apt to accept it as part of the image. In short, I was manipulating an individual's reasoning and behavior.

To further the military concept of "false colors," four of us on a task force went so far as to create our own motorcycle gang, colors and all. That way, when the undercover agent went in to make a buy, his surveillance (the rest of the gang) normally stationed outside, instead went in with him. There were no problems with rip-offs under these circumstances, there were several law enforcement witness to the buy details when it came court time, and the dealers assumed it was a natural situation for the whole gang to be in their living room during a purchase. Yep, if he did it right, a guy could have a good time outsmarting criminals, even bikers in other gangs.

Next time, a more dire set of circumstances where even one-man psy-ops could mean survival.

20 January 2012

No, no, I really am.....

Most of the time, an undercover wants the criminal side to believe he really is someone other than that pesky occupational hazard known to them as law enforcement. However, there are also those times when the undercover needs to come forward and reveal his true identity, even if circumstances are not necessarily under the best conditions. This is one of those incidents. Surveillance had gone wrong and the undercover ended up playing the Lone Ranger. Or it could be a John Wayne part. Nah, in my mind, I like the image of Bruce Willis in the movie Last Man Standing, not to be confused with Tim the Toolman in a current TV sitcom by the same name. Although......

It was supposed to be a simple deal. Just me, my senior partner and a future defendant were in the bad guy's house. Several surveillance vehicles were parked up and down the street for backup. Negotiations for the contraband goods had finally been completed. Problem was, the bad guy was either one of those paranoid type people or he was being extra cagey. The goods were not at his residence, instead we had to drive over to another house. He made a quick phone call to tell them we were coming.

"I'm ready to go," says I.

"I'll wait here," says my partner.

This last statement allowed both the bad guy and me to feel a certain amount of relief. The criminal was satisfied because now he only had to keep an eye on one person instead of two during the transfer of goods. As for my feeling relief, my partner and I had zero means of communication with our surveillance teams outside to tell them the deal was moving to another location. By staying at the house, my partner could run outside, after the bad guy and I left, and flag down one of the surveillance cars. Looked like a great plan at the time.

I drove the undercover government car with the soon to be defendant seated on the passenger side. We backed out of his driveway, made a left at the first corner, drove one long block, made another left and immediately pulled into a driveway on the right hand side of the street. With my tail lights still glowing red, I glanced in the rear view mirror and soon saw the parade of surveillance vehicles going past.

"Good," I says to myself, "I'm covered."

I turned off the ignition.

My new friend, let's call him Bad Guy #1, goes into the house we're parked in front of and quickly returns with a large cardboard box. Seated inside the car, he opens the box and shows me the goods. I'm satisfied.

"I'll get the money out of the trunk," says I.

At the rear of the government car, I raise the trunk lid and the light comes on. This is now the bust signal, because we aren't going to let this much money walk. I stand there, confident, with the trunk light illuminating my smiling face as I wait for the cavalry to descend upon the scene and deliver me from the hostiles.

After a while, I'm still standing there. My smile is starting to droop. Where the hell is the cavalry?

Two things now occur.

One, I realize that the surveillance cars missed my last turn into the driveway. They have obviously continued down the street, probably splitting up and commencing to search for their lost undercover. Uh-oh.

And secondly, I look over the top of the government car toward the house. There's a man watching me through the kitchen window. Uh-oh again.

Show time.

Removing a thick envelope of flash money from the trunk, I wave the envelope over the top of the car for the inside man to see. Then I paste a smile back on my face as if everything is peachy keen. There's nothing for it now. I get back into the driver's seat, obvious envelope in hand.

"We've got a small problem," says I.

"What's that?" inquires my soon to be enlightened friend from the passenger side.

"Well," says I, "I'm a federal agent and you're under arrest."

"I don't believe you," says the criminal.

"Well, here's my credentials," says I, having extracted them from my pocket and displaying them in my most professional law enforcement manner like actors do on television.

"I still don't believe you," says the bad guy.

It then occurs to me that maybe the man has slipped into an extreme case of denial. All he needs is a slight nudge back towards reality.

"Well, here's my gun," says I, flipping the safety off on my nickel-plated Colt .45 semi-automatic.
"Okay, okay," he blubbers, evidently making a sudden return to the real world, "but I gotta tell you that the guy watching us from inside the house has a shotgun."

"In that case," I explain in a slow voice just in case I had been speaking too rapidly for him the other times, "you had best get down on the floorboards as small as you can get." Which as a new convert to belief, he quickly did.

Then, in my best Broderick Crawford style from the old TV series of Highway Patrol, I crouched down in the V between my car and the open driver's door with my gun aimed over the hood and at the house.

"Federal agents," I holler, "come out with your hands up." I do all that in a command voice like I know what I'm doing.

To my surprise, Bad Guy #2, the one with the shotgun, appears behind the screen door in the front doorway. He stands there with a clear case of indecision.

Afraid that he too may be a sufferer of Denial Disease, I wave my gun and reiterate my demands at the top of my lungs.

Amazingly, the cure works. He leans his shotgun against the inside door frame and comes out on the porch.

I order him into the front yard.

He goes there.

In order to keep his mind occupied so he doesn't do anything stupid, I tell him to start doing pushups.

He complies.

Wow, this is working great.

Now, Bad Guy #3 from somewhere inside the house picks up the shotgun and stands in the doorway.

Crap. This is starting to look like circus clowns getting out of a car.

I glance back at Bad Guy #2. He's still doing pushups. Must be the adrenaline, but then maybe he's never met a crazy guy with a gun. However, as I look over his back at the sliding glass patio door of the house next door, there's Mom, Dad and two little kids with their noses pressed against the glass to observe goings on in their quiet little neighborhood. Supper grows cold on the table behind them.

Bad Guy #3 is reluctant to come out of the house. I don't know, maybe he's allergic to pushups.

Fortunately, the cavalry now arrives with screeching vehicles and massive firepower.

#3 hasn't seen a show like this before. He quickly decides that maybe pushups aren't so bad after all.

As surveillance subsequently explains, yep, they missed my turn into the driveway. They were only alerted to my possible location when one of them monitoring the local police radio band heard mention of an escalating disturbance involving firearms at a certain residence.

Botton Line: Sometimes it's tough when the undercover operative has to reverse course and come in from the cold, but the criminals don't believe who he really is. Like I said in an earlier blog, it's a strange world we operate in.

30 September 2011

In the Shadows

C'mon in. Pull up a Bacardi and Coke, throw in a slice of lime, make yourself comfortable and let's talk. Some of you already know me and that's fine. Some of you may have heard a little about me amd that's fine too. And, some of you may be asking yourself, "Who the heck is this guy?" And, that's really okay. I don't mind at all.

See, I spent twenty-five years in the shadows using several different aliases on the street, trying to avoid publicity. In my prior business, if you became known then you'd best be working in a very large population area, else move on to other territory. There's nothing like walking into a house or a bar undercover and suddenly realizing there's somebody in the place who knows you and what you do. Yeah, it's happened, ...more times than I would have liked.

Oh sure, I had a gun tucked inside my belt and concealed back underneath my shirt, but I only carried one. The other side often had their own weapons, and there was usually more than one of those guys at our little get-togethers. Yes, I did have a surveillance team as close as they could get and still stay out of sight, but most of the time they were several minutes away when seconds might count. And no, I didn't like to wear a wire transmitting our conversation to the outside just in case the opposition decided to shake me down. Guns they didn't mind. After all, they had their own and half expected you to do the same, but wires tended to bother them. Plus, some of the more sophisticated organizations had electronic equipment to detect transmitting frequencies that weren't theirs.

Let's just say they were a very untrusting lot, so when I pretended to be someone else, I had to have my story straight. There were times in the old Kansas City days when I taped a piece of paper on the wall by the phone. The left hand column listed the aliases I was using and the right hand column had the names of potential defendants who'd be calling for that particular name. business was good. No doubt there're a few psychiatrists out there who have written dissertations on multiple personalities and therefore have strong opinions on the subject. As for me, to this day I'll still answer to a lot of different names if I think someone is talking to me. It's a different life, but you get used to it.

Don't get the wrong idea, the job wasn't all excitement. Our Rule of Thumb said it was ninety percent boredom: doing paperwork, or waiting for the snitch to call, or the potential defendant to show up at a pre-arranged meeting site. Seems a lot of them boys couldn't tell time very well even if some did wear a Rolex. Only about ten percent of the job was adrenaline: stepping into the criminal world with a made up story as to who you were this time, or kicking doors with an arrest warrant when the case was done and the object of your intentions might have made up his mind he wasn't going back behind the walls for another stint, or taking the wheel in a high speed surveillance breaking red lights and hoping nothing went wrong.

Anonymity was my friend back then. In any case, I think you can see why it's kinda difficult for me sometimes to step out into the bright lights where most authors go when they're seeking publicity in order to advance their writing career.

Turns out, even my first three short stories got published in an undercover fashion. In those days, the federal agency I worked for didn't allow its Special Agents to have any outside employment. Somehow, they even construed this policy to to prohibit the writing and publishing of short stories. However, since the agency also taught us how to construct an alias with appropriate documents, and how to work undercover, I merely put their training to use. The byline on those first three stories was a nickname I used on the street, the payment checks came to a Post Office box in the name of an undercover alias, and the checks... well, let's just say it was easier in those days to cash them under a name that wasn't yours. Obviously, the agency had an excellent training program because none of this came to their attention.

Now I'm retired, so I write short mystery fiction for fun and profit. Roughly a third of my stories have been sold to Alfred Hitchcock Mystery Magazine where I have four different series going. Where do I get my story characters? Most of them walk right in off the street from the old days and sit down for a little chat from the past. Them people haven't aged a bit, they're frozen in time. Plots and story lines? These guys are all scam artists and they want their stories told, even if it is the fictionalized version. Call it a form of immortality through the printed word.

Okay, here's my first installment on this blog, so if you got any questions or topics you'd like brought up, just shoot 'em in. Who knows, they could end up in one of our future talks.

Well, it's getting late, my glass is empty and I got to go. Be looking for you in a couple of weeks. Seems I signed up for this gig on the Fortnight Plan. Guess you could say that way I can still keep one foot in the shadows where I find life more comfortable. See ya around.