Any Gumshoe (Detective) who is candid, will readily tell you that “CIs” (confidential informants) AKA: “snitches” are very necessary and a valuable asset when it comes to solving cases; instigating investigations; developing case leads; providing intel of the latest news on the streets and the “who’s who in the zoo”. Intel makes a detective’s world go round.
It is a fact that CIs can make or break a case that for the most part would end up in the detective’s cold case files for perpetuity. Physical evidence, DNA, fingerprints, photographs, videos, etc., sometimes lead to dead ends with no further investigative leads. Sometimes, only leads from CIs can crack the unsolvable case. Where’s Jimmy Hoffa?
Gumshoe learned to seriously work with professional informants when he was a DEA guy (A Special Agent, U.S. Department of Justice, Drug Enforcement Administration). Whew! The common acronym for DEA was “Don’t Expect Anything” similar to the acronym for the FBI, “Famous But Incompetent”.
Special Agent Gumshoe from the LA Field Office was introduced to several professional CIs who made a pretty good income by making “intro’s” (introductions) to undercover DEA agents to various illicit large-volume drug dealers. The going rate at the time for an intro was $500 bucks. Ongoing cases that resulted in large drug/asset seizures/arrests could net the CI thousands of dollars. Occasionally a trip to the U.S. Marshals Witness Protection Program. Not a bad dig!
These professional CI’s worked with the Feds simply because we had very substantial large PE/PI (cash payments for buying evidence/payments for information) budgets. The “locals” (municipal police departs paid little or had CIs who were only working off “beefs”. Your tax dollar at work my friends. Professional CIs gravitated to the money.
Gumshoe’s first use of a DEA CI was when Gumshoe was “intro’ed” to an odd couple of folks who manufactured and sold thousands of microdots of LSD and PCP infused on small cellophane stamps with the pictures of Mickey Mouse on each dissolvable hit.
Product branding counts even in the drug trafficking business. This was Southern California by the way folks and the original home of the mouse, Disneyland — “The happiest place on earth”. This odd duel (comprised of an old guy in his 60s and his 20-some partner; they both wore complete leather outfits with biker chains; would always meet Gumshoe inside of their converted old white Wonder Bread truck to do the deal. Funny, we would meet inside the public parking lot of the Long Beach Police Department.
Gumshoe figured that these refugees from the Village People thought it was best to hide in plain sight. It worked since we federal narc’s advised the Long Beach coppers of our undercover operation and we did not want to be interrupted by a suspicious blue suit with a badge and gun.
On another occasion, Special Agent Gumshoe accompanied another DEA guy down to El Centro (adjacent to the U.S. southern border with Mexico) to have a clandestine meeting with a CI. The CI was providing us info on one of the Mexican drug cartels and the players who were indirectly and directly responsible for the previous kidnapping and murder of DEA Agent Enrique “Kiki” Camarena in Mexico. This CI’s decapitated head was later found on the Mexican side of the border by the Federales. !Lo Siento mucho mi amigo!
Special Agent Gumshoe once met with another “wanna-be” professional CI who had been “black-balled” by LAPD as well as by LASO. You see folks, CIs were not the most trusty people to invite over for Sunday dinner. Some CIs would work on both sides of the street. They were mercenaries who would provide info to cops or crooks depending upon their own lucrative interests. Buyer beware! These CIs were deemed by police agencies as “persona non grata” and they were placed on a list (by local and federal prosecutors) that was available on a need-to-know basis to police agencies conducting sensitive investigations.
Special Agent Gumshoe met with this “persona non grata CI” inside the CI’s ride in North Hollywood one hot and humid LA afternoon. The CI promised to make what the Feds call a “career case” for Special Agent Gumshoe. Free intel is free intel even if it was tainted as far as Special Agent Gumshoe was concerned. There is always some kernel of truth inside a troth of lies.
Gumshoe provided the CI with his professional business card that somehow was stuck in between the front cushion of the CI’s bucket seats. Gumshoe never did use that particular black-balled CI. Some of the CI’s info was valuable after wading through the bogus.
Now let’s advance the story dear readers . . .
It was about no two years later when Gumshoe had left the DEA and was working as an undercover narcotics detective for the Santa Ana Police Department; Gumshoe received a call from an LAPD Homicide Detective. He asked me if I knew a certain individual who was now one of his deceased clients. Gumshoe learned that a very battered and very dead individual was discovered taking up residence inside a dumpster. Found inside the mouth of this dead dumpster denizen was DEA Special Agent Gumshoe’s business card.
Go figure? The long-ago black-balled CI had been permanently black-balled.
Well my gentle readers that’s one of Gumshoe’s stories about dealing with double-dealing CIs.
Always remember to love the ones who love you and even try to love the ones who don’t.