Crime Library: Criminal Minds and Methods

The Desire Terrorist

The Sting

In late 1993, according to court documents, a New Orleans crack cocaine dealer named Terry Adams went to the local FBI office, complaining of extortion by NOPD officer Sammie Williams. This was apparently a common practice around that time. Cops would extort money from dealers in exchange for looking the other way. Adams was offered a deal by the agency if he would cooperate in their investigation. A sting operation was set up, headed by Neil Gallagher, special agent-in-charge of the local FBI office.

Neil Gallagher
Neil Gallagher

Acting on the FBI's instructions, Adams asked Williams to protect his drug-dealing operations and he offered to pay for Williams's services. Williams accepted and he brought Davis, his partner, into the operation. Undercover agents posing as dealers issued beepers and cellphones to them and these were wiretapped.

Williams and Davis began guarding a warehouse near the New Orleans riverfront where the coke was being stored and they soon brought other police officers into the plan. Seven other officers of the New Orleans Police Department were given round-the-clock details guarding the drugs. According to later published reports, there were between 100 and 150 kilos of crack to guard, for which Davis and Williams were paid a total of close to $100,000. From this sum they paid the other officers on guard details.

In meetings with Adams, who was clandestinely "wired," Davis was heard telling him, "Never use words like dope.' Never use words like How much I gotta pay.' Don't use them kind of words Just say business,' stereo,' whatever And when we meet you, don't use words like dope.'"

Later in the conversation, Williams is heard saying, "I just want s--- to go smooth; that's why I'm telling you we could be in a business. We got that protection."

In May 1994, in full view of a hidden TV camera, Davis and Williams were captured on videotape entering a New Orleans hotel room to meet with the undercover FBI informant who they thought was the mastermind of the drug smuggling operation. As they entered the room, the two officers stripped down to their underwear to show they weren't wired for recording devices. Half-naked pictures of them made the front page of the Times-Picayune on December 13, 1994, shortly after knowledge of the sting operation became public.

They then discussed specifics of the operation with an black undercover agent named J.J. (Juan Jackson, probably a pseudonym). At the end of the videotape, Davis is heard saying, "There might be people you're dealing with who are into you. We shouldn't be using words like cocaine.'"

Following the meeting, Davis recruited seven fellow officers to guard the cocaine warehouse in 12-hour shifts. They were Sgt. Carlos Rodriguez and patrolmen Adam Dees, Christopher Evans, Keith Johnson, Sheldon Polk, Bryant "Brinky" Brown and Larry Smith. According to published reports and court records, they worked a total of six paid details at the warehouse, each detail lasting two to four days. Each officer worked at least two details, during which time more than 100 kilograms of cocaine passed through the building.

At one point during the summer of 1994, while the operation was going on, some of the officers complained about sitting outside the warehouse in their un-air conditioned patrol cars. They requested an air-conditioned van and one was provided for them by FBI agents posing as drug dealers. Unbeknownst to them, the van was wired to FBI headquarters.

Recordings made from the bugged van revealed an even more seamy side to the underworld mentality of certain members of the New Orleans Police Department. In one conversation, Brown and Dees discussed betraying their buddies and taking over the operation themselves. They talked about ripping off the drug dealers and possibly even killing them. According to transcripts provided to the U.S. Attorney's Office and reported in the Times-Picayune, Brown is quoted as saying, "I don't want to meet them. I don't want them meeting us because I'll be the one to take em out. If they get tired, boom."

While the drugs were making their way onto the streets of New Orleans, some of the officers involved in the operation escorted the undercover agents who were posing as dealers. According to published reports and court documents, they did this in uniform and while driving their patrol cars. Among those who were later convicted of participating in protecting the transport of these drugs were Reserve Sheriff's Deputy Darrel Jones, and NOPD patrolmen Leon Duncan, Lemmie Rodgers and Edward "Peanut" Williams.

As the operation proceeded, the FBI kept close tabs on it, hoping in the end to snag as many as 20 NOPD officers who they could then charge with a wide range of crimes. The big bust, it was hoped, would send a message to other officers of the department to clean up their acts or, if their acts were already clean, to keep them that way.

However, the best-laid plans of mice and men often go awry. The murder of Kim Groves and the very real possibility of more killings to come forced the agency to abort the operation sooner than planned.

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