The “Black & Decker”Routine

GUMSHOE-DANNY-PITOCCO[su_dropcap style=”flat”]H[/su_dropcap]ERE IS ANOTHER chapter for those of you who have been following “The Gumshoe” chronicles. I will now clue you folks in on just how creative cops can be when it comes to obtaining information from uncooperative suspects without cops resorting to “water-boarding”.

The “cops” in this street saga are of course myself and my old partner Ed “Axel Rose” Tark (he really did look like Axel from the Guns and Roses rock group). Both Ed and I were working the street narcotic’s detail (undercover investigators with long hair; beards and even tattoos!) for the Santa Ana Police Department in Santa Ana, California. Please refer to one of my earlier articles “Adventures in Española” for a description of the “Golden City”.

Our regular routine was to make at least three undercover buys of narcotics (normally heroin or cocaine) from the same location which was usually an apartment or a residence within one of the numerous barrios. Once we had the “three buys” we would apply for a search warrant and then do an early morning (about 0700 hours) wake-up call at the drug buy location.

The majority of our suspects were low-grade street dealers. Several of them would live together in the same place for security reasons. You see, even drug dealers could be the targets of “drive-rips” by other drug dealers and/or users, with cash and dope being the booty.

Since both Ed and I (I was almost tempted to write me and Mr. Ed, forgive me) worked the streets day-in and day-out posing as drug users; we had to keep our true identities as cops concealed since today’s bust at one location could turn out to be tomorrow’s undercover drug buy. There is always a degree of danger when the crooks you want to score dope from – recognize you as THE MAN. Occasionally, this can really make your “ass pucker”.

Well, when our team (there were six of us and our sergeant working the detail) would execute the search warrant at the location; we would always wear balaclavas (ski masks with eye holes to see and a mouth hole to breath) along with our “POLICE” tactical ballistic vests and other armaments.

The appearance of “masked men” sporting semiautomatic weapons and screaming “POLICIA” in a very rapid manner and with a very aggressive posture – storming through the rooms -would result in a dynamic entry that left the occupants (drug dealers) in “shock and awe” and pretty compliant to say the least. We never had to shoot anyone – which was amazing, since guns and dope always go together – like ham and eggs.

Okay, once the dust settled and all of the suspects were handcuffed and secured in a common room; we now had to gain their individual trust and cooperation so they would let us know where the drugs and money was “stashed” – which would also be accompanied by firearms and always (did I say always?) a large amount of porn magazines. I figured that “sex, drugs and rock and roll” would forever live together – no matter what the circumstances.

Ed and I came-up with a very unique way of gaining almost complete cooperation from these uncooperative street mopes – the portable-battery-charged Black & Decker ¼’s power drill!

No, no, no, it is not what you think– no torture or even a drop of real blood was involved!

Once all of our captive guests were sitting down on the floor in the living room, Ed and I made a great show of removing our trusty Black & Decker (with a full electric charge) from one of our go-bags making sure that our audience would not only see the drill but would hear it as well – as he or I would rev-up the motor after affixing the largest drill bit in our own “stash”.

After this “show and tell” (more show than tell, though) demonstration, we would both retreat to an adjoining room that would afford us privacy from the group. This room’s requirement was that it had to have a window or a door that would lead directly outside to several of our “uniform police officers” who would be standing-by to receive our prisoners.

Ed and I would decide which one of us would be the “victim-screamer” and who would be the “interrogator-drill man”. One of us would then go out to our very apprehensive captives and normally select the biggest one (for dramatic effect) – you all remember “the bigger they are, the harder they fall?”- and unceremoniously grab their arms and lead them into the secluded room and slam the door! (We would tape a brown bag over their heads for security reasons – if you can’t see you are normally pretty quiet as you are being lead.)

Once the door was slammed shut, we would immediately take our captive out of the residence via a door or a window (screen removed and the window open – of course!) to the waiting uniform officers who would place them in the prisoner van.

Ed would rev-up the drill adjacent to the closed door and I would make the loudest blood-curdling scream of agony that would scare even Ed. Ed would then splash some fake Halloween blood (ketchup was just too sticky – as we discovered early on in our experience) on the drill and he would open the door as I would point at the next victim as I would shout “Venga aqui!!” (Come here!!)

Somehow, this next arrestee would always let us know where the “stash” was hidden before we even had the opportunity to escort him into that secluded room. On a few occasions, a bladder was emptied.

Now that, folks, is the way you gain complete cooperation with your local law enforcement officers without any pain, blood, sweat or tears…merely with a little assistance from a trusty “Black & Decker”. That’s the truth and I am still sticking to my story.

Until next time, this is Gumshoe signing-off. Be safe, be alert, people love you!


Danny Pitocco
Danny Pitocco
RETIRED (as a Detective with the Snohomish County Sherriff’s Department, Washington State), Danny has over forty years of law enforcement experience across city, county, state and federal levels of government, including service as a Special Agent for the DEA, US Department of Justice. He’s a decorated law enforcement veteran, and recipient of the "Detective of the Year" award for Snohomish County, Danny is a certified composite artist and has testified as an expert witness in the field of narcotics and modus operandi of particular crimes in state and federal courts in California, and has given testimony before federal grand juries. Danny served four years of active duty in the US Marine Corps and loves Jesus as his personal savior.

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