DEA Senior Agent Frank Grime’s POV
Los Angeles DEA HQ
Fall of 1992
“Thank you, Agent Johnson. You’ve earned some time off.” The bearded biker, still dressed in his leathers and Club cut, nodded and left the room. As soon as the door closed, I looked at my boss, Director Hank Sterling. “We have to do something different, boss. The gangs are getting better at checking out backgrounds. If we hadn’t overheard them on the surveillance talking about what they had found, he’d be dead right now.”
He nodded; the Prussians had a hatred of cops and would not hesitate to kill our man when they found out he was undercover. “What we are doing now isn’t working, that is clear. Two years of undercover work blown, and we don’t even know how. The surveillance made it clear they KNEW he was our agent. Not suspected, KNEW. How does that happen?”
I had an idea, it was completely out there and probably broke every rule of Federal employment and DEA policy, but it just might work. “Sir, the issue we are having is that we are taking agents and making them bikers, not the other way around.”
“What do you mean?”
“We hire from some of the same pools, especially in ex-military who find the biker clubs give them the adrenaline rush and close camaraderie they miss from the service. We bring a guy in, give him a file, spend almost a year training them, then send them out. They can’t explain away the year with us they can’t talk about, and it changes them. They go to the field and they have to unlearn the behaviors we ingrain during agent training and ignore the friends and fellow agents they meet along the way. The whole process leaves a paper trail. I don’t know whether they are mining our records, compromising our people or just know what to look for, but if we keep doing it this way, we’ll be burying agents left and right.”
He thought about it. “I hate to think it’s our own people, but you’re right. They’ve penetrated our Agency somehow.” He looked at me, wondering what I was thinking. “How would you do it differently?”
“Biker life isn’t a life you can practice for a few weeks and pull it off, it’s something you have to grow up with. What I would like to do is find someone who can live that life and intercept them before they are even HIRED by the DEA. We help this person get introduced to the gang, go through prospecting and become a patched member, all without actually being an agent.”
His jaw dropped. “How is that possible? And why the hell are you going to do it that way?”
“Simple, it’s safer for him. No paper trail, no missing time, and they are completely honest when they say they are not and never have been a cop or Fed, because they have never been hired on as one. Only after they are patched in do we make them an agent, and even that will be different. The training will be done one on one, in secret, and the personnel record will be paper only and held only by his direct supervisor. Me.”
He thought about it. “What do we do about the time before he’s sworn in?”
“We get two pieces of paper to keep in his file. One is to give him retroactive service credit to when he starts is work, so he doesn’t miss out on his pay and benefits and gets back pay when this is all over. The other is a pardon for any illegal activities he may have to participate in before he gets sworn in.” He looked at me funny. “Look, we know they test Prospects with taking drugs and committing crimes, because they know our Agents can’t do that. The best way to fool them is to allow him to be like any other prospect.”
“It’s a ballsy proposal, Frank.” I just nodded; I knew it was, but did we have a better idea? No. “It’s a great idea, though. I’ll need high-level people to bless it off. I take it you want to run this?”
“Yes sir. I’d like to be the single point of contact for this operation. Only the two of us will know who he is and what he is doing. I’ll report progress only to you.” He nodded. “Make sure they understand this is a long play for us. He could be undercover for years, and we won’t risk him for anything short of a home run.”
“I’m tired of bloop singles and bunts, Frank. I’ll get back to you.”
A month later, I was scanning through the applications to the DEA, FBI and Customs looking for someone who could do this. I needed someone smart, streetwise and courageous, who rode motorcycles and liked to party. It took another month to find the right man. Captain Andrew Killian of the United States Marine Corps via the University of Minnesota ROTC program.
I had his service record, and he was impressive. Two tours in Iraq, a Bronze Star and two Purple Hearts. His application stated he would be out of the service in six weeks. Recently divorced, he listed riding his Harley among his hobbies. He was stationed at Quantico, a short drive from my office.
We met at a bar outside the gate, taking a booth where we could have some privacy. I laid out what I wanted him to do and why. “So let me get this straight, Frank.” He took a drink of his beer. “You want me to work for you in secret. I won’t get paid for years, I won’t have any official status or support for the first two years while I become a patched member of an outlaw biker gang. After that, I’ll be a sworn agent with my badge in your office safe. I will be expected to do whatever the club asks, including illegal acts which will be retroactively pardoned by another letter in my file.” I nodded. “I give up years of my life working a dangerous undercover assignment, getting close to people I will betray and send to prison at the end. When it’s all done, you give me a new identity, I get my life and my back pay, and go on to be a normal Federal agent again.”
“Pretty much,” I said. “For your own protection, I’ll be the only person who knows who you are and what your true status is.”
“And when you are dead or transferred?”
“I report only to the Director of the Los Angeles Bureau on this. No one else will know we have an agent in place, and there will be no paper trail for anyone to find. You will see and know no one else in law enforcement. For all anyone knows, you will be biker Andrew Killian, kicked out of the Marine Corps and bitter at the world.”
He looked at me. “What do you mean, kicked out of the Marines?”
“If you do this, you have to do it right. Your Captain America routine won’t fly with an outlaw gang.” I looked right into his eyes. “You have a chance to make a real difference here. You could take down an outlaw gang and break up a drug smuggling ring that is flooding our streets with methamphetamine and other drugs. It’s a risk for both of us, but mostly for you. The question is whether you have what it takes to immerse yourself completely into the biker life, to make yourself beyond question so you can get into the gang as a trusted member. Once you are in and beyond suspicion, you will officially but secretly become an agent, and work with me alone to build the case that will bring them all down.”
He didn’t think long. Guys like him lived to make a difference. He came home from deployment to find his wife had used the power of attorney to empty his bank accounts, sell his possessions and greet him at the airport with the divorce papers. The only reason he still had his Harley was that it was in storage; the local Harley dealer stored it free of charge while he was deployed. He had nothing holding him anywhere and nowhere to go. “I get to do it my way, and I only work for you?”
“Exactly. We sign these papers and it goes into my safe. Your recruitment and undercover work have been approved by the DEA Administrator and the Attorney General of California. I’ve spent two months looking for the right person, and I know it is you. What do you say, Andy?”
“What the fuck, it’s not like I had a better plan,” he said. We both signed the papers and I put them in my briefcase. “Now how do you get me out of the Marines?”
“I’ll take care of it. Just remember, it all goes away eventually, and we have to do this because we want your story to ring true. If they talk to guys you served with, they’ll get the same story. Nobody saw it coming until you crashed and burned.”
He nodded. “What do I need to do?”
“Take this,” I said as I pulled a pill out of my pocket. He didn’t say anything, he just popped it into his mouth and washed it down with the rest of his beer. I smiled as I got up. “Stay here, get drunk and get in a fight. I’ll take care of the rest.”
“I’m a Marine, that’s Tuesday,” he said with a smile. “Get out of here, I’ve got a lot of drinking to do.”
He was drummed out of the Marines by the end of the week. The fight got him arrested, the drug test came back positive, and a small amount of cocaine was found in his quarters. A week later, he was riding his motorcycle in California and looking for a way to make some money.
Andrew Killian (Sean Ryder’s) POV
Los Angeles, 1993
I was three months in and starting to make some headway. I started hanging out at Sneaky Pete’s, a biker bar near Long Beach, where Satan’s Riders liked to hang out. It took almost two months before I was invited to visit the clubhouse, and I had graduated to hang-around status. Today, we were riding out to the desert for some weapons training.
The Riders didn’t talk much about how they made their money, but they had it. There was an old junkyard they used for targets, setting up cans and other targets. They carried pistols, but few had really learned how to shoot properly. For bikers, you had to learn to shoot left-handed too, so you could shoot while riding if necessary.
As a Marine, I sure as hell knew how to shoot. I used the opportunity to teach them properly, and by the end of the day they were much improved. “Come on, Drew,” Smoke told me. “Let’s go back to Pete’s and have a few drinks.”
I put my pistol and the extra ammunition in a saddlebag and followed them. Since I wasn’t in the Club, I rode behind everyone else. We were just entering the outskirts of the city when the cops pulled us all over. I stopped next to Smoke’s bike.“Shit, if they search me, I’m packing and with a gang,” he said.“I'm on parole, I’ll end up back inside for years.”
“Run for it?”
“I have to.”
I looked at the cops who were getting out of their cruisers. “Go, I’ll hold them off.” Both of us accelerated hard, steering between the oncoming cars and across the median to head the other way. The four policemen ran back to their cruisers, ignoring the rest of the group to go after us. We had no chance on the freeway, so I led Smoke off an exit. “As soon as they are out of sight, turn and kill your engine, I’ll lead them away.” The winding canyon roads were perfect, and Smoke turned hard into a driveway and parked behind an RV as I kept going. The cop cars caught sight of my bike and kept going.
I drove for another couple miles before the helicopter showed up and the roadblock stopped me. I braked hard and put the stand down, following their directions as I was taken to the ground and cuffed. I did five months for my little joyride, but Smoke got away. When I got out of prison, the Club was waiting for me with my Harley and a cut. My prospecting time had begun.