Friday, August 1, 2014

Master of Puppets- Federal incompetence on display

The scene behind the community college was something right out of Hollywood. The feds had spared no expense on this operation. Giant 40ft+ command centers littered the perimeter of the parking lot. The hundreds of antennas became one with the pine trees that infested the campus. Nine local agencies, 6 SWAT teams from the area, and what appeared to be the entire FBI were involved. I gathered with the other team leaders in what had to be a $500,000 mobile command center with FBI and Homeland Security placards on every conceivable square inch of it. So much for discretion. We are receiving a final briefing before the operation begins. There are planes flying above each of the target locations providing a real time feed. It always amazed me that the feds always had the nicest toys, but still manged to be some of the most incompetent law enforcement officers I ever came in contact with. And believe me, that's saying a lot. Remind me to tell you about the telescope incident one day.

This morning we are involved in a joint operation with the feds. They have been conducting a years long investigation into a known drug trafficking organization in the area. It's 3am and we are attempting to dismantle an entire cartel. This was a well known cartel out of Mexico that employed some really nasty characters known as Zetas. The original Zetas were Mexican special forces, trained by the U.S. to do the really nasty jobs when the government needed deniability. After a while, one of them figured out that the cartels paid a little more for their special services and they became entrepreneurs. We were not only going after the cartel leadership, we were hitting their stash houses as well. Cartel stash houses have been known to have a Zeta or two hanging out with some pretty serious fire power on them from time to time. Now these guys aren't original Zetas, these are second and third generation but for what they lacked in the finer art of close combat tactics they made up for with reckless abandon, itchy trigger fingers and balls the size of cantaloupes.

There were warrants for 18 locations total, all had to be executed in a certain order at precise times so as not to alert the next target location. The cartels tend to have levels of security that are quite sophisticated. We split all the SWAT teams into two sections and assigned each section 3 locations. I had a section of 12 guys. SWAT would move in and hit the first locations at exactly the same time. This would ensure the cartels security blanket would be disrupted long enough to move on and clear the rest of the target locations. The plan had an unmarked fed car leading the jump out vehicle to the first location.  On the time mark, dynamic entries (lots of explosions) would be made. Once the team had cleared the residence and secured anybody inside, the feds would take over the scene and we would move to the next house. Easy enough right? All these moving parts, with different agencies, in a metro area of around 12 million people. Piece of cake.

We load into the van and follow the fed car to the first location. We park down the street and await the countdown to start the operation. After a few minutes its time to move. We slowly exited our vehicle and stack up behind our shield man (I know this is a lot of jargon that I haven't explained yet. Just picture like you see on TV with the little SWAT guys lining up and tapping each others shoulders before moving). The countdown begins. 30.....29.....

My position in the stack since being promoted to team leader was always towards the back. This is so I can coordinate once the raid begins. Its like directing a sick play or watching a violent puzzle and having to make split second decisions on how to solve it. As we approach the house I notice something isn't right. It doesn't look like the photos at the briefing earlier. 20.....19..... We're looking for a split level house, this is a two story. I split off from the team to go check the mailbox. 18.... 17..... I would always do this to confirm the address we are about to unleash hell upon is the same address that's on the warrant. 16.... 15..... Holy... 14....shit..... 13....

They had taken us to the wrong house. 12..... 11...... 10.....


  1. This comment has been removed by the author.

  2. 9.....8......7......finish the story! What happened? What was the result of this particular operation? Were the people innocent?

    Sorry about the deleted comment. I wanted to edit. Great blog. You write very well!

  3. Thank you for the support. I will be posting a follow up soon. I'm a big fan of cliff hangers...