An Uncomfortable Position To Be Undercover
It turned out that she was new and was unaware that isopropyl gel is not the same as massage oil. Long story short, the manager was convicted of coercing staff on the basis of their visas being revoked if they did not comply. I had to stand in court and tell the events of that day.”
The Last Interview
“In the late 1980s, I did some work as a private investigator. Someone I knew did it as a side job out of a large law firm’s office. He hired me to help him out. It involved interviewing witnesses to something that may have happened several years ago and stuff like that.
One night, I had to drive about 45 minutes out into the country to interview someone involved in a possible driving under the influence incident in which he ran a stop sign and severely injured someone. I posed as someone from his law office, and never let on that I was working for the victim. I thought myself to be pretty sneaky for doing that.
As we were sitting there as I asked him a round of questions hoping not to tip him off, he just went and told me the whole story of how inebriated he was, how much he had been drinking, where he had been drinking, and tons of other details. As I was listening to this, I thought, If he finds out I’m from the other side of the case, he could kill me pretty easily. I quickly ended the interview, drove a couple towns over, wrote down everything he said in more details, and turned it into the lawyers the next day.
I had zero training, was probably 20 years old, and had no knowledge of anything law related. After realizing how stupid it was of me to be out doing this, alone, with no one knowing where I was or what I was doing (and the fact that no one had given me any sort of training or guidance), I never went back to the office again. Instead, I just focused on trying to build my freelance photography career.”
Watching Traffic, Unable To Move
“From 2007 through 2008, I worked on a smuggling interdiction task force. My team dealt with human trafficking. I regret that we could not really do anything to put a dent in the problem. I worked undercover in that I did not wear a uniform or carry a badge and my authority was civilian so I only reported to LEAs.
The most taboo thing I witnessed that I was not allowed to do anything about was women (mothers, aunts, grandmothers) offering children in exchange for cash. The truth of the matter is that (at least in western society) the threshold of evidence required to hold women responsible for trafficking is not even in the same ballpark as it is for men. The number of cases we had to tolerate sickens me. I don’t know which we need to address first as a society, the rampant abuse or the gender bias that keeps it going.
Truth be told, I met just as many female ‘sellers’ abusers as I did men. The biggest difference I could see is that women were more often focused on the under 12 demographic vs. the male who focused on teens. I never saw one female prosecuted, but we were successful in moving a handful of kids to foster care.”
Drinking Club Infiltration
“I worked as an undercover operative for a private investigation firm. I was once placed at a soft drink bottling facility on the graveyard shift as a mechanic. My job was to keep the motors lubed on all the conveyor belt systems and so forth. I knew nothing at all about that line of work but the PI firm got me in to the union job using false records and a little string pulling by the plant president.
My official job was to look for employee mistakes. There were plenty. Drinking on the job was the main mess up, Friday nights, especially. Out back of the loading docks was where we kept the wooden pallets, hundreds of them stacked in about 20-foot high columns. On Friday nights, we would take the forklifts and create a hidden pathway in the middle of the stacks where we would sneak in coolers filled with brews. Throughout the night, we’d shuttle people in and out of the hidden area so they could drink. We would forklift them in and circle back a few minutes later with a new crew to drop off while returning the imbibed person back to their stations. The night boss had no idea. He was usually passed out wasted in his office.
I finally had to have a clandestine meeting with the plant president to let him know that, due to my ignorance on what my phony job actually entailed, he had better get somebody in there to lubricate those machines before stuff started breaking down.”