Watch Former DEA Special Agent Reviews Drug Trafficking in TV & Film | True Crime

My name is Craig Chretien.

I am a retired special agent,

with the Drug Enforcement Administration,

and I was in that capacity for more than 26 years.

And today we’re breaking down drug trafficking scenes

in movie and TV clips.

[suspenseful music]

This is a scene from the TV series The Wire.

He’s getting into a black Ford Excursion.

Copy that.

He’s pulling out north on Colin.

The Wire’s probably one of the more realistic TV shows

about drugs and drug trafficking.

I was in charge of the DEA office in Baltimore,

and I would be interviewed

on several occasions by David Simon,

the creator of The Wire.

And Ed Burns, at that time,

was in one of the task force groups

in the Baltimore office.

So I knew both of them long before the series was created.

1171, nothing on this side.

All right, hold your positions.

I’ll take a look.

Attempting to do surveillance

with one car is pretty much useless.

A real good serious surveillance,

you need at a minimum two, three plus cars

so they could trade off,

not constantly follow the target,

do parallel surveillance.

The Wire is one

of the most realistic police procedural shows

on narcotics.

Some of the characters I knew who they were portraying.

Some were composite characters.

Some of the portrayals I didn’t agree with.

But, overall, I thought it was an excellent, excellent show.

This next clip is from the movie Sabotage.

You got an iron fence round three sides.

All right, what’s the plan boss?

You two angel up the back.

So rather than to have this discussion in a car

while they’re going to the target,

there should be an operational planning briefing

in a conference room at Starbucks, wherever.

Breach.

Don’t stop.

Going left.

Right.

Got your back.

We got a bathroom. Clear.

All clear.

The actual entry going through each room

was very realistic.

They were talking to each other.

They would shout out clearly

which room was cleared,

where they were going, who was where?

That was good.

Indicates strongly.

They had a pretty good technical consultant

on that part of it.

I seriously doubt if the consultant would’ve said,

oh yeah shoot this guy in the back.

That’s a problem.

Somebody’s probably gonna get indicted over that.

Very poor police procedure.

Should not have happened.

One of my favorite characters was the female officer

who seemed just a little too excited.

Go gum by God damn.

She does a taste test.

Like the old Kojack style.

Liquid meth. Hell yeah.

And for her to do that very problematic.

Just imagine if it was fentanyl.

They’d probably be arranging her funeral services

at that point.

That type of police officer just shouldn’t be on the job.

This next scene is from the movie Blow.

I’ll fly down on a Friday

refueling The Bahamas and then onto Medine.

Do you have pictures of your kids?

Why?

I’ll need to see them.

I’ll also need their names and the names of their schools.

We are trusting with millions of dollars worth

of coca Mr. Stevens.

Without your children, there is no deal.

Fine.

This one was based on a real life event.

As the cartels were expanding, particularly out of Columbia,

they needed more personnel,

more people to make the drugs, transport the drugs.

More planes, bigger planes.

So there were several trafficking groups

that would have a form of a job application.

You would literally write down what you did before,

who you worked for. How long?

Sometimes they’d ask, hey, what’s your wife’s name?

Who’s her mother? Where does she live?

And if something went wrong,

then they have that person’s family in Columbia, let’s say

and they’d do whatever they would do there.

There’s retribution.

Do you have pictures of your kids?

Why?

Without your children, there is no deal.

Fine.

To ask the American pilots for photos of their kids,

that’s little over the top.

Traffickers might ask for that level of information,

photos of the kids,

but most American participants in this group,

they would not normally give photos of their kids

or their family just, I’ve never heard of that.

Next up is a scene from the TV series, Breaking Bad.

What are you doing?

These are my good clothes.

You can’t go home smelling like a meth lab.

Yeah, you can. I do.

This type of lab years ago, we used to call ’em,

bebison butthead type labs.

In other words, pretty much anybody could go in,

mix the right chemicals.

What sort of surprised me is that Brian Cranston’s character

who is a real chemist, he’s pretty exposed.

Also not wearing gloves.

That would be sort of unrealistic.

A real chemist wouldn’t go

without having all the protection.

Then to start mixing these types of chemicals.

In this scene, you don’t see a lot of sophistication

on how the chemicals are mixed or measured.

It just seems a little haphazard.

Although in the scene,

the product that does come out seems to be pretty good.

Next scene is from the TV series, Narcos.

No cat deserves this.

You gave someone your passport?

You’re trying to get puffed through immigration?

Huh?

I didn’t name it dude.

Traffickers pay people at the airports for Intel.

A gringo coming in from Miami raises suspicions.

That’s how you got made.

I was involved like a lot of other agents

in the actual investigation against Pablo.

There are some scenes that actually happen.

I mean, a lot of exaggeration and embellishment

especially on the two agents that were portrayed there.

Don’t let it rattle you, man.

That’s what they want.

You probably got a price on your head

but no one’s gonna take the contract.

You’re safe because of Kiki.

The Kiki Pena was referring to was Kiki Camerena,

a DEA agent who went after the Guadalajara cartel in Mexico.

Kiki’s kidnapping, torture, and death was tragic.

It hit as any agent death would

hit the DEA family pretty hard.

And everybody

in DEA pretty much stopped what they were doing.

We put so much pressure on the Mexican authorities

that we pretty much shut everything down for a while.

They went after them so hard.

Every single narco in the world got the message

that the DEA is off limits.

There are many of us who knew Kiki,

worked with him, knew of his work.

He was a, a fine outstanding agent.

His death was just tragic.

Do not tell Connie that story.

I won’t, but you shouldn’t forget it either.

Why?

This cat is DEA.

As far as the, that poor little cat getting killed,

I was in charge of international operations

for a couple of years.

I just don’t recall anybody losing their pets.

This is a scene from the TV series, Euphoria.

This clip does a pretty good example

of showing the sometimes confusion during dynamic entry.

In other words, how fast the team goes into a room,

who goes first, how you communicate.

You want to get in and clear every room as soon as possible

and then do whatever you were there to do.

Having said that part,

the actual technical part of the entry

I thought was problematic.

You don’t shoot at a door or a wall,

not knowing what’s behind it.

It could have been a hostage situation.

A lot of unknowns. Time is on their advantage.

They could easily back up. Look at other options.

Maybe calling a negotiator.

This next clip is from the TV series Ozark.

Okay. What did these guys take from you?

Was it eight?

Is that what they said?

I’ll get you that. I’ll put that together.

I’ll make you whole, you call it Ernest money.

Okay. I give that to you.

But then I take me and my family.

We go down to the Ozarks, just like I planned

and I just start washing money.

Tons of it. Nothing but washed money.

That’s all that matters.

Come on.

The character, Marty.

He had a pretty good proposal.

He’s not only trying to save his life

but he’s proposing sort of a long game option

to the trafficker.

Earlier on, seventies, eighties,

handling money was a problem.

There was so much money

that they had difficulties getting it

from the United States back to Columbia

or whatever country was a source country.

At one point before counting machines were in popular use,

one smart money handler

in the states decided to weigh a duffel bag of bills.

He weighed a hundred times

and always came up with a plus or minus 0.2, 1%

and would get the trafficker on the receiving end to agree.

Cuz the long you sit on the money, one place,

the more vulnerable you are to police activity.

500 million, five years.

No question.

You have 48 hours to get me my money.

Okay.

Fast forward to today.

With cryptocurrency, it’s a whole other ballgame.

We see more and more traffickers

using that vehicle to be paid,

transfer money, hide money.

So that’s something law enforcement is just getting

on top of the last few years.

Sometimes there are opportunities to meet

with the trafficker and you weigh the odds.

You weigh how close can surveillance get.

Where is the meeting gonna take place?

And you sort of equate it.

If it’s 50 50,

when I was a supervisor I’d usually say it’s not worth it.

If it’s 51% in favor of the crook, definitely not worth it.

Do it another day. Another way.

There is no dope deal worth anybody’s life.

https://www.vanityfair.com/video/watch/true-crime-vf-true-crime-reviews-dea-and-drug-trafficking

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