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  • This is Mike Macallan, a retired FBI special agent who spent most of his 31 year career undercover.

  • I worked undercover against some of the more sophisticated, complex criminal organizations such as La Cosa Nostra, which is the mob Russian organized crime and also the Sinaloa cartel, led by Chopper Guzman.

  • Mike is going to tell us what movies have gotten right and wrong about organized crime and FBI procedures.

  • I want to be clear that I will not discuss, know, disclose any undercover tradecraft or techniques that I believe will aid the criminal element nor jeopardize the safety of current law enforcement Undercover personnel.

  • First up Reservoir Seaman memory What?

  • Look, man, undercover cops gotta be Marlon Brando to do this job.

  • You gotta be a great act.

  • You gotta be naturalistic.

  • You gotta be naturalistic as hell.

  • In undercover work is a five step training process.

  • It's preparation, preparation, preparation, preparation and go do it.

  • It's part of our undercover training.

  • When I trained young undercovers, I will send them into an actual bar.

  • I will point out an individual until him or her that they need to contact that individual and come back with that person's mother's maiden name.

  • You can't text them.

  • You can email them.

  • You gotta sit down, look him in the eye and convince them that they want to do a deal with you.

  • Details sell your story.

  • This particular story takes place in a man's room.

  • You gotta know all the details about the men's room.

  • You gotta know if they got paper towels or a blower to dry.

  • Those details are critically important.

  • Those are things that if someone has been there and you have not, and you don't describe it accurately, you've already screwed up the investigation.

  • I had a connection with this hippie chick up in Santa Cruz, and all my friends knew it.

  • Give me a call when I say, Hey, Freddy.

  • So what happens in real life is we have what's called a legend.

  • A legend is who you are as an undercover, your identity, your story, your history, et cetera.

  • And you have to create that yourself.

  • You can get help from senior agents or more experienced people, but the story has to be realistic and things that you know.

  • So you have to develop your own legend.

  • So, at the height of my undercover activity.

  • I had approximately six different identifications, and people think, How could you remember six different identifications?

  • But of all six, the core elements, the things that you understand all with the same.

  • I love golden retrievers.

  • You don't lie until you have to lie to gather evidence.

  • So I had six identities, and probably 80% of it was all the same.

  • So walking a man who stands four Los Angeles County sheriffs and a German shepherd that's hard.

  • That's a hard six.

  • You need to get the bad guys like you before you can make a deal with them.

  • So when you tell a story like this young officer did, he's building report.

  • He's building trust.

  • He's acting natural.

  • He's just talking a bunch of guys in a bar.

  • You can't be stiff.

  • You can't be rigid.

  • You gotta tell some jokes.

  • Tell a funny story, and that's what he did.

  • Bark.

  • He's parking.

  • The only guarantee is nothing will go as planned.

  • One time that I was dealing with the mob and I had on a very expensive suit, probably $1500 suit, and I also had on a pair of J.

  • C.

  • Penney socks, which cost about eight bucks.

  • And the informant, the person I was working with to introduce me in this group pointed out that they would recognize I was wearing a cheap pair of socks with a very expensive suit on.

  • They notice everything to do this job.

  • You gotta be a great act.

  • So the only thing I really didn't like in this scene is when the older cop tells him that he's acting.

  • You're not acting because you don't get take two.

  • If you make a mistake, it literally could be fatal.

  • You could be killed or at a minimum, you screw up the investigation.

  • Next up departed In this scene, Jack Nicholson plays a mob boss selling microprocessors to the Chinese, while Leonardo DiCaprio serves as a young undercover police officer.

  • While the transaction is being monitored back at police headquarters, we have a blind spot.

  • Why do we have a blind spot?

  • We had two hours notice.

  • Two hours.

  • You think this is NASA?

  • Never crossed my mind.

  • If you got a camera in the back, what back?

  • What they got right, for the most part, was the interaction within the command center or the monitoring room.

  • It's chaos.

  • The technical equipment doesn't function properly.

  • Those are very common occurrences that, unfortunately, is pretty much the main realistic part.

  • I want to tell you, these two, these gents have machine Two dozen people show up for a major meeting.

  • That just doesn't happen.

  • Every person in that room is a potential informant down the road.

  • If they're gonna hear and see everything you have done, you have to be prepared that they're going to compromise you.

  • In this case here, you had the mob boss and underlings, while only he and the main negotiator for the Chinese should have been there.

  • You always see these meetings taking place in desolate warehouses.

  • Garages.

  • That's not very accurate.

  • If I have important meeting, I'll have it in the lobby of the Park Plaza Hotel.

  • You hide in plain sight.

  • Did you put a camera in the back?

  • I talk to you for a second place.

  • I've never seen a fight in a room, but I've seen you get pretty close, so I don't know if we want to go there, but the frustration level is very accurate.

  • Next up, Donnie Brasco, Don the jeweler.

  • In this next clip, you have Donnie Brasco, posing as a jewel thief undercover in order to attend his first meeting with Lefty Ridge Ario, played by Al Pacino.

  • This is the first time Brass Ko's meeting with Cheerio, but what's done earlier is part of his legend building in his back stopping.

  • He spent time in this eye room and became friends with the bartender who's led him to the mob guys.

  • He didn't go directly to the mob guys.

  • He let it be known that he was a jewel thief.

  • The mob ended up finding him.

  • When you have the legend, the legend is who you are, where you're from, what you do, etcetera, backstopping is the filling of that.

  • It's filling in your story to appear real when Rogelio first comes in and tries to talkto Brass Co looks at the bartender to get confirmation.

  • He's a riel mobster, so that was very effective in that part of the preparation process of disgust.

  • There there's some beautiful thing.

  • Why don't you give it to your wife?

  • My wife?

  • I'm gonna give it to my wife.

  • I am married Girlfriend.

  • Yeah, I gotta go for it.

  • Samaria, Of course, that's for gazing.

  • All right, How do you know it's a fool who looked at it for two seconds?

  • Rather than telling Ridge area when he wants to hear, he tells him, It's no good.

  • It's not worth anything to give it to his girlfriend.

  • Yes, if you're going to say you're a jewel thief, you'd better know jewelry.

  • And in this case, Brasco actually attended jewelry school.

  • He went out on his own and went to school to do that.

  • And I had one investigation where I was undercover as a a state inspector, and I had to go to dirt school to learn about dirt.

  • And believe me, there's a lot to learn about dirt that I didn't know until I went to dirt school.

  • But once I went and it was also an organized crime case, I was able to talk dirt to the bad guys and pass off as I was a state official in which they laid it.

  • Bribe May for a state contract.

  • Boardwalk Empire 30 In the following scene, a Prohibition undercover agent is intensely questioned by Al Capone for fears that he's a rat when you move the Cicero 1922 from where Minnesota Horton Bill We owned a wheat farm.

  • It went belly up.

  • How do you people?

  • We fall.

  • Brown rushed.

  • It rots the leaf in this scene.

  • I thought the undercover agent did a phenomenal job of talking his way out of trouble.

  • If you're an undercover, eventually you're gonna be challenged.

  • It's inevitable.

  • So why not prepare?

  • And he obviously had prepared his legend in advance.

  • He was able to cite specific history with the bad guy.

  • So he did.

  • Ah, excellent job under extreme pressure.

  • Stop.

  • I worked for you for seven years.

  • I broke heads and Cicero.

  • I set up Dean O'Bannon.

  • I make my number every week.

  • There's a myth out there that if someone asks you if you're law enforcement while you're undercover, you have to answer in the affirmative.

  • That's not true.

  • I've been challenged multiple times.

  • The first time I was challenged when somebody said You're an FBI agent, I said, Yeah, J had go over and he immediately started laughing.

  • And we went off and finish what we were doing because I just disarmed him with the human.

  • Maybe I'm a federal agent.

  • Maybe I'm a bigamist.

  • Maybe I'm a murderer on the run.

  • Believe what you want.

  • There's no way I could stop you.

  • But that's not what matters now, Not when you're faced with a life of death situation.

  • You probably want the bad guys to know that you are in fact, law enforcement as opposed to a cooperator.

  • That's a very effective technique because the bad guys, most criminals, at least saying criminals don't want to kill law enforcement.

  • Because if you kill a federal agent, the government's going to get you like he didn't say, Don't kill me.

  • I'm a federal agent, which is sometimes what the recommendation is.

  • Okay, But hey, at least leaves them with that hit that they don't need that trouble.

  • Probably the most realistic part of that exchange is when he has to use the bathroom at the end, because that's what you feel like after walking out of one of those places.

  • What did I say?

  • You remember I need a men's room.

  • You'll be sick.

  • I may have soiled myself.

  • Sopranos following clip shows the day to day bob life of Tony Soprano and his crew just go.

  • Oh, Lida.

  • It's pretty much accurate about the day to day doings in a mob crew and family.

  • They spent a lot of time smoking, playing cards, talking about nonsense.

  • They just spent a lot of time together.

  • If you're working undercover against the Mob, you have to know that you're gonna be tied up for hours and hours and hours talking about basically nonsense and maybe five or 10 minutes of criminal conversation.

  • I work three different cry LCN families for about 10 years, and I enjoyed my time with them.

  • As far as talking to them about different things.

  • They're pretty funny.

  • They have good senses of humor.

  • They have interesting stories, and not everything is criminally related.

  • All right, Tony.

  • Oh, FBI agents assigned to the organized crime squad.

  • It's a little bit of a cat and mouse game that we play.

  • Well, you know, you make sure they know you're there, and you're exchange pleasantries.

  • You never know what one of them may decide to call you and wanna jump over to the other side.

  • It's a good given taking it.

  • They just make sure that each other knows the others out there.

  • Next up.

  • Goodfellas.

  • Holy Hated phone.

  • You wouldn't have one in his house.

  • I used to get all this calls secondhand, then you'd have to call the people back from an outside phone.

  • In this scene here, the fear of telephones is very accurate.

  • In the LCN back in the seventies or eighties, they used to feel free to be on the telephone.

  • But once the federal government, specifically the FBI, started to wire tap their phones, they became extremely cautious on the phone so that in and of itself, and that scene is very accurate.

  • Guys, that's all they did all day long will take care of Paulie's phone call.

  • What's not accurate in that same scene, though, as they take the message and they run across the street directly across the street from his house and use a pay phone.

  • So with surveillance, the FBI would recognize that's the phone that they wanted to be listened to next.

  • Everything was one on one holy hated conferences.

  • They didn't want anybody hearing what he said, and he didn't want anybody listening to what he was being pulled through.

  • The use of wiretaps, which is legally known as title three interceptions.

  • Those interceptions were first used heavily during the early eighties.

  • Mafia member still were sloppy or lazy and would use the phones, and many of them were caught because of that.

  • But the discipline members wouldn't touch the phone.

  • So even if they had to take a plane trip to Las Vegas or Chicago, if it was that important, they just wouldn't talk to anybody until they were face to face in person.

  • Next up, Scarface.

  • They're conducting money laundering transaction.

  • And in general, what money laundering means is you're taking dirty money, which is money made from criminal activity, in this case, drug trafficking and converting it into legitimate income.

  • They have so much drug proceeds they can't walk into the bank deposited, so they have to convert it into another financial four.

  • You against the world, I notice, is a famous movie, and it's back in the day.

  • But those air antiquated arrests, procedures anyway, we did.

  • That's not the way you arrest people in on undercover operation.

  • There's 212 You're in one room with one door, and you can put 20 agents outside.

  • They pull out their weapons, and those weapons could be taken again away from you.

  • So just let him leave and what the other guys grab.

  • You're under arrest for violation of the RICO statute.

  • Your right to remain silent.

  • Anything you say can and will be taken against you.

  • When the federal agents stood up to arrest him, he claimed he was violating the RICO statute.

  • The RICO statute is what's noticed.

  • The Racketeer and Influence Corruption Organization.

  • Rico is a very powerful federal tool that we use, which basically, you're allowed to attack the Enterprise as opposed to the individual.

  • So back in the day in the Mafia, when a mob boss ordered a murder, he didn't commit the murder, but he could be held responsible as part of the enterprise.

  • Also, this idea that undercover agents make the arrest in sight the legal citations, etcetera.

  • That's in my opinion.

  • That's not accurate.

  • I don't remember ever arresting anybody I worked undercover against.

  • I would always leave.

  • Let somebody else arrest them.

  • You've done your job.

  • Next up, the Irishman get extra.

  • In the following clip, Frank, played by Robert DeNiro, sells meat off of a truck to the mob.

  • Good.

  • The part that was most realistic to me was the comment Street Hustle that Frank engages in.

  • He's employed with a meat company, obviously, but he's making a side business, selling some of it off the back of his truck.

  • And as you noticed in the clip, he makes sure to take care of the people that he needs to take care of in order for the scam toe work.

  • This is very common in urban areas at this time era.

  • If you look historically at the Fulton Fish Market in their connection to the LCN in New York, the LCN basically ran that place for years, and it wasn't until the mid eighties late eighties that that relationship became known and prosecuted in federal court.

  • It's a case study that's often shown about the relationship between the mob and legitimate business.

  • I guess the next Tuesday, how many you want At least five.

  • Hey, split a couple of sides of beef off.

  • And then the next thing was him sitting