The Undercover Files: Narcotics

An anonymous IMPD detective tells IM about life as an undercover specialist.

As an undercover narcotics detective, I got most of my training on the job. But we have an excellent detective school, and I’m one of the instructors. We always tell our guys to be themselves when working undercover. I’m from a small town, so I can’t play someone from the city. We typically wear a wire, and sometimes the offenders will pat you down. I don’t want to give too much away, but it’s not what you picture. Criminals rarely find it. Technology has progressed in that area, so it’s not like carrying a boombox.

Some of the living rooms I’ve ended up in were just gross—kids sitting on the couch while Dad has drugs and guns out on the coffee table. Once you move up the chain, the guys get more sophisticated. The top dealers may be near the product at some point, but you’ll never be in a position to be there. So the only way to get them is by convincing a judge to allow you to tap their phones. Have you ever seen The Wire? That show is a lot like my job. There are guys like Stringer Bell living in $1 million houses next to doctors and lawyers in Carmel. People think there isn’t any drug activity in upscale neighborhoods, but that’s not the case. It’s just the executive branch up there.

I was introduced to an Outlaws biker once when I was buying meth. The guy pulled out a .44 black powder pistol that was almost a foot long and set it on the table to intimidate me. The guy went ahead with the deal and eventually wanted to be friends. He called me once about some woman who had stolen his truck, and he wanted me to join him in doing bodily harm to her. I was at the mall with my kids, so I made up some excuse. We wanted him to flip, because we thought he could get us to bigger suppliers. But he said, “The only person I know I could bust is this guy in Greenwood who’s one of the kingpins.” He was talking about me.

—As told to Daniel S. Comiskey

The Undercover Files continue here.

This article appeared in the March 2013 issue.