Mind Games

       So far, my blogs have been about my days as an undercover. The reason for that is that I have many examples from those days of the mind games necessary to succeed in covert activity. Many of these games are played on the fly because like the private sector your subjects are not following a script. As a surveillance operative I have to stay a step ahead of my subjects if I want to achieve my goal, and mind games, in the form of a diversions, help me to do just that. Below is a story of how one game I played even surprised me.

       As an undercover I really did not like working with Confidential Informants (CI's), so my bosses would sometimes allow me to enter a narcotics prone area to develop my own case from the ground up. This was the situation in the following example of a classic mind game.

       The assignment was to enter a well-known drug location in a public housing development that consisted of multiple brick breezeways that led into courtyards. The place was like a maze and I had conducted many different drug operations at this location without being detected. On this particular night, I was with another undercover and while walking to the location I came up with a plan. One of the dangers of undercover work is that sometimes you are searched when in the process of buying drugs, and if a gun is found it can become a life-threatening situation. It has happened to me before and unfortunately to a fellow undercover who was killed as a result. Essentially, my plan was to place my gun in my front waistband, hidden by my shirt. I told my partner that I was going to leave my coat unzipped for quick access to my weapon, and have both hands in my coat pockets. The purpose for this was to deflect all attention away from where my gun actually was, to another location.

       So, we enter the location and see a group of guys standing in the middle of the courtyard. Upon approaching the group, I get into my speech and right away I know these guys are players in the narcotics trade. While I was talking, I would intermittently take out my left hand but never remove my right hand from my pocket. I finally got to a point where I didn’t return my left hand to my pocket as I intentionally used it in meaningless gesticulations. Out the corner of my eye, I suddenly catch a member of the group begin to stare at my right pocket, where my right hand had remained since my arrival. He begins to move around, thinking that he’s being discrete, in an attempt to circle around me. I watched him carefully from my peripheral vision and just when he was out of sight on the right side of my body I removed my hand from my pocket. In that instance, he grabbed my right pocket and squeezed. I turned around to confront him as he said, “He's good.” Meaning, let’s do business.

       I admit that I was surprised how well it worked. You never know what’s going to happen in these situations, but thinking outside the box and creating diversions help in achieving you goal.

Eddie Cruz