Undercover operations are difficult to manage and can be extremely dangerous, even in the workplace. One slip of the tongue or a slight oversight can put your covert operative in extreme danger in a heart beat. Death is always a possibility. Some of the characters being investigated are extremely dangerous and violent.

Myself and the Loss Prevention department were conducting a covert investigation in a large unionized distribution centre. The employee population was littered with punks, gangsters, thieves, gun runners, drug addicts and dealers, pimps, murders, trustees of modern chemistry, and prostitutes. The majority of these employees didn’t go to work to earn a living. Rather, it was an opportunity to service a rather large customer base with very little effort. They could earn in one day what it would normally take them a month to do on the street. They had a captive audience.

The undercover operation lasted eight months; we were able to, with the help of the Police, nab and charge eight offenders. One employee was caught selling drugs on company premises to the undercover operative. We also knew from a previous failed covert investigation that this person was also selling illegal hand guns – Glock handguns were going for $1,000 apiece. This individual said he frequented illegal gaming houses where it was important to carry a gun to protect himself. He was a dangerous character and we didn’t want to risk the health and safety of our investigation team.

The final step of the undercover investigation was to bring the police to the distribution centre. A search of the employee’s car resulted in the seizure of a small bag of marijuana, stems and seeds, along with a weigh scale ala the scales of justice. The scale was in the bag with the dope.

When we asked the employee to tell us what the scale was for, he responded: “I’m a big coffee drinker. I use it to weigh out my ground coffee.” It took everything we had from not bursting into laughter. REALLY! According to our undercover, this person was one of the major drug dealers in the building. I don’t think this guy could have told the difference between a coffee bean and a has been!

The individual expected us to believe this and stuck to his story throughout the interview. He was adamant it was for measuring coffee. I gave him an A for creativity and persistence, but an F for an overall performance. It lacked total credibility. What was even more incredulous was that he expected us to believe his bunk and to give him a get out of jail card.

We terminated his employment for just cause. The union did not grieve. Even they didn’t buy his story.