Toy Fuson, the Truck Squad Supervisor finally received his office of preference transfer, which was based upon seniority on a “Office of Preference (OP)” list. Since everybody in NYO wanted out, transfers out were few and far between and since the FBI had a “crap floats to the top” promotion policy, a Supervisor like Toy was rare indeed and we ALL hated to see him leave! Toy really helped me a great deal in my early years as an Agent.
There were so many experiences in 2+ short years on the Truck Squad, some good and some not so good, I’d like to give a synopsis of a few.
One dark night in a Brooklyn railroad yard, we surveilled several guys who were up to no good when the word came to “hit it”, everybody ran and shots were heard all over, no idea who was shooting at who. My partner that night, not Steve, but an older Agent and I were on a guy who also took off running between railroad cars. My partner jumped out to give chase. The yard was loaded with parked RR cars and they disappeared between cars. I drove quickly down the tracks to get out in front of them. I stopped, got out and took cover between two cars. I heard the chase coming towards me, then my partner hollered “gun” and 2 shots rang out. The second shot hit the rail car in front of me and ricocheted back hitting me in the face and chest with copper jacket fragments, nothing serious but they were very HOT! I hollered for him to stop shooting and stepped out in front of the bad guy who almost “ate” my gun. It didn’t take much for him to drop his gun and prone out. After we cuffed him, he made the mistake of telling my partner, “You shot your own partner”, I had some blood on my face. My partner convinced him that he should never, ever, mention that again, ever, for the rest of his life! He promised he wouldn’t.
My partner also asked me to NOT discuss this as long as “he” lived, and I didn’t until now. This is the first time I talked about that incident and unfortunately my friend did pass away several years ago. It was an accident that he and I laughed about many times, that could have been very bad!
Most of the work on the Truck Squad was informants, that led to surveillances that were very, very productive. Almost all evolved around hijacked trucks, about 250 per year! It was a violation unique to the New York area. Newark had +/- 50 and that was it, Nationwide!
The squad was a great squad loaded with good, tough, older agents with years of surveillance experience! I was the youngest on the squad.
One more interesting story that happened while on this squad; we all had very good informants which allowed us to actually witness several armed hijacking cases! We couldn’t intervene as there was a victim driver taken at gun point. That made it too dangerous for him; for us to try to intervene. So we just followed the stolen load.
A source of mine told me about a planned hijacking in Connecticut. The info was very good but too sensitive and not detailed enough to turn over to the FBI Resident Agency in Conn. So we asked them to help us. They couldn’t and said to call a Conn SP unit they work with. We didn’t want to, but we were in foreign territory and didn’t want to get shot by other cops so we needed to do something. You’ll see why in a minute. PDs needed arrests now, per their upper management, and that’s all that mattered was arrests. They could not afford long drawn out cases. They need quick stats. We had some NYPD units we worked with, extremely well, like NYPD Safe and Loft and MCIUC or MCU. They both honored the way we worked. We gave up a lot to protect our sources; they are the secret to the FBI’s great success and their lives matter!
We knew roughly where the hijacking was to take place and had good info on one car and some on the load. There was to be 3 armed bad guys and it was to be a real stickup versus a “hand up” by the driver We got to a good location and no sooner did we get there, in Connecticut, that the car showed up with 3 guys and led us to the truck stop that we figured was the right place. We had 2, 2 man cars and good radio communication between us but none with any FBI or police. So we called the number that the Conn FBI gave us for the “trusted” Conn State Police. We told them that we believed a truck hijacking was going to go down shortly at our location, asked them to stay away but if they wanted to be involved, then have an UNMARKED Detective car available to help. We said we would call this number as soon as we could, if it went down. We gave them descriptions and plates of our two cars with 4 plain clothes Agents. They said okay and would notify the Detective on duty.
Slick as can be, the hijacking goes down! The bad guys grabbed the driver at gunpoint as he returned to his truck, the only one there, and forced him to their car. One of them got into the truck and fires it up. At this point most lawmen who just witnessed this same event would almost certainly intervene, resulting in a gun fight and probably a dead victim. The squad had been through this scenario so many times that we had the discipline to just let it go. No driver had ever been hurt following this plan and we saw plenty!! My partner, Steve, is driving our car, I’m on the radio to our other car telling them to stay with the load and we’ll follow, just as two uniformed, Conn SP Officers pull up behind us in a freaking marked car! At least they didn’t use the freaking lights and siren! One racked a shotgun covering Steve the other blindsides me with a hand gun ordering us OUT, hands up! Steve tells them repeatedly, in a softer voice, as the bad guys are close, “We’re FBI, we’re FBI… we called you”, over and over. We were separated from the action by a row of hedges and with the truck engine running, the bad guys couldn’t hear us. The SP responded “We’re Conn SP ‘keep your hands up!” No matter what we said we had to get out, submit and let them take our guns and then check our ID. While this is going on all the bad guys and good guys are gone! How could a cop screw up the simple message we gave the trooper? But this is EXACTLY why we didn’t and OFTEN don’t confide in other agencies but the chance of getting shot by cops greatly increases, and in that area is very real. Remember, this is the NYC area, NOT western NY, BIG difference!
The radio was cracking that the surveillance is moving, “Where are you? Are you guys okay?”
Our “number one” concern at ALL times, first and foremost, before any loads or anything else was each other. When the other car lost contact with us, they broke off the load and came looking for us, as we would have done for them. They see us with the SP and couldn’t believe their eyes, and our guys had their guns drawn as the Trooper kept us covered with the shotgun. We told them again in a not so polite manner what they have just done and they wanted the info on the truck and any cars. We said, “What good did it do to give you OUR plates, you f’d that up didn’t you”? We couldn’t give them the info as they would almost certainly get the truck driver killed, our informant killed and who knows what else, and then blame us. We’ve been there before. We part ways unpleasantly and spent the next hour looking for the truck. You would think it would be easy to find but it wasn’t.
The driver was released unharmed and the truck was dumped, empty, in New Jersey. We later recovered part of the load in a NY drop. We identified 2 of the 3 stick up guys but could not do anything as it would have compromised the source, even though we witnessed the stick up! That’s how things work out, sometimes!
The Conn SP showed up at the office the next day demanding the info on the hijacking and swore that we never called them! Go figure, they lied? They said they got a call from a truck driver who “witnessed the hijacking”! I don’t know how since there were no other trucks at the truck stop, they were right on top of the stick-up and they couldn’t give us the name of the caller!
On to the BR squad and some unbelievable cases and some that they made movies about. Remember ‘Dog Day Afternoon’ with Dustin Hoffman? That was our BR Squad.