You are hereThe Sting - Part Two

The Sting - Part Two


At the de-briefing following our final meeting with them in Quito,  I was able to ask Pepé, “Why did you chose San Francisco and not Saint Louis or New Orleans for the delivery point?”
“Have you been to San Francisco?”  he asked me.
“No. Never.”
“Bueno. Good. Neither have I.” He replied.  “But it sounds like a great place to do the business with those three bandits.”

I had nothing against this logic and we were still feeling confident when we flew into SFO. Checking into separate hotels Pepé arranged to meet me later at DEA’s San Francisco offices, where he introduced me to the AIC and some of the agents who would now be taking part in the operation. We then piled into their local; an Irish Pub, opposite their down town offices, and swapped exaggerated past case histories over pints of Guinness.

It had already been agreed that I would meet Everley, Anderson and Sepio in the foyer of the down-town Hilton Hotel,  three days prior to the hand-over. In Ecuador they had been in foreign territory and despite their bravado,  had shown that they were understandably nervous and unsure of themselves. But on their home ground, the USA,  they were full of bluster and acted with all the confidence of big time crooks. Everley did not like or trust Pepé  and repeated that they would be armed and ready for any eventuality. I informed them that in two days  time I would meet  with Pepé, check if the merchandize had arrived and, at the very last moment, learn from Pepé when and where the delivery was to take place.

Extreme caution had to be taken that I was not being followed and that my hotel was not known to Everely. Pepé also had to ensure he was not under any surveillance before our meetings. We both spend a lot of time doing our counter surveillance stuff before we met.
In preparation for the final act, we had already booked two adjoining rooms in the Airport Hilton for the hand-over. Pepé would be in one room, where the final meeting would take place and in the other room would be the armed DEA agents. Pepé’s room had been wired to record our conversation.

On the day of the exchange, I met with the DEA team at the Airport Hilton. There were half a dozen agents,  waiting in one room  with enough weaponry to start a 3rd World War. Pepé would be alone in the other room. I was to collect the trio from the down-town Hilton and bring them to the meeting by taxi. I would knock three times on Pepé’s door and then one single knock and Pepé would admit us. Everley would have to hand over the torn half of the cheque plus 25,000US dollars and Pepé would tell me it was time to go and fetch the cocaine. I would then leave and take a few minutes before warning the agents in the adjoining room and they could now move in and make the arrest. This, of course, is the most difficult time in any operation. Despite all the planning things could still go very wrong and there was always the worry, would they use their weapons when confronted.

Everley was alone in the hotel when I arrived to pick him up. He surprised me by announcing he would be making the pick-up alone and Anderson and Sepio were nowhere to be seen.  It was my turn to be nervous. Had they been following me?  Everley’s belligerent attitude gave me cause for concern but I called taxi and he and I headed for the airport. To make matters worse, on the way to the meeting, Everley, looking out of the back window of the cab, spotted what he thought were a suspicious pair in the car behind us and said he thought  we were being followed.

Sure enough, when I  looked ,I recognized two DEA agents in the car immediately behind us. Fortunately they fell back and I tried calming an increasingly aggressive Everley, who threatened to call the deal off.  Another near disaster had to be averted in the Hotel when he spotted two more suspicious figures in the foyer. I recognized two more agents and again had to assure him that there was no need for any one to be following us, as no one knew of our presence in the city and even if such any surveillance was in operation, no one could be as obvious as those two guys, surreptitiously  hiding behind newspapers. Luckily he also saw the funny side of it.

Pepé, deliberately taking his time in answer to my knocking, eventually admitted us. On asking where Anderson and Sepio were, Everley replied that they were nearby and would be around when needed. The three of us chatted amiably, on this occasion Pepé being on his best behaviour not wishing to spook Everley. Finally Everley, unable to hide his impatience demanded to see evidence of the cocaine. Pepé asked for and received the cheque half and the 25,000 and motioned to me to go and fetch the merchandise.

I left the room and took a stroll around the hotel foyer, checking to see if Anderson or Sepio were  around, before advising the waiting agents that we were ready. I knocked the three and one on Pepé’s door and stood to one side as it was opened by Everley. He was hurled backwards by half a dozen agents, weapons drawn and all screaming at the same time. I do not think I had ever seen such expressions of surprise, horror, fear and then realization which crossed Everley’s face in those few seconds.

That was it then. A successful, at times an adrenalin pumping operation over. Anderson and Sepio also detained and Pepé and I held celebratory session held in ‘Henry Africa’s’ bar, on the corner of Polk and Broadway - or so I thought. The frightening part for me had yet to come. Despite the evidence, (the bugging device in the hotel room had not functioned) the trio unexpectedly pleaded not guilty and I would now have to  testify for the prosecution, in front of a judge in an American law court.

Throughout the entire undercover operation I had not given any thought to the repercussions if the operation  had gone wrong or if  my true identity had been discovered by Everley. The thrill and excitement of the game had been nothing but one long high. However, over the next days, while being briefed by an Afro-American prosecution lawyer, I was to learn a lot about the extraordinary liberal laws of the United States and even more so in San Francisco, which did nothing to counter the  nervousness  of  my upcoming court appearance.

I have always been shy when speaking in public and the foreboding court room, which was like every American courtroom I had seen on television, did nothing to put me at ease. The judge, a mature female, with short cropped, grey hair was most concerned about the health of her female stenographer, who complained of being tired and that she was unable to understand my English and I was repeatedly reprimanded for calling the judge Madam. By the high octane performance and behaviour of the two defence lawyers I was convinced  that if Everley’s  import business have been successful. they would both have been good future customers.

I suffered a barrage of frenetic questioning, about my business and personal life, which I was not truthfully able to answer and the defence leaped on this. Eventually the prosecution stepped in to help and requested a private consultation with the judge. A whispered conversation took place with the lawyer explaining that I should not be subjected to this form of questioning because I was also working for the United States Government (read CIA) and could not truthfully answer many of the questions being put to me. This, being the super liberal San Francisco of the 80’s, the judge obviously did not approve of my other line of employment and spared me nothing of the lawyers’ inquisition, who clicked on quickly and began accusing me of being a nasty sort of  ‘James Bond’.

The judge, not wishing to keep her precious stenographer any longer than necessary and,  just stopping just short of sympathising with the poor defendants, gave the DEA and myself a short but thorough dressing down. The unsurprising outcome was, Entrapment – No Case. Todd Everley, Evelyn Anderson and Mark Sepio walked free, minus the one hundred and twenty five thousand US dollars legally confiscated by the DEA – which to me proved their guilt - and hopefully their extortionate legal fees.

I often wonder what would have been the outcome if I had introduced them – which I could have done – to a genuine Ecuadorian trafficker. They probably would have been multi-millionaires by today.

BRT

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