Sometimes to get to the truth, to uncover wrongdoings and crimes, you have to go undercover - “Deep Cover”.
Our Andrea Isom re-introduces you to private investigator, security specialist, and former FBI Special Agent Ned Timmons, this time in another role many people didn’t know he played for years.
So, consider this a dive into an incredible story.
“I don’t have an answer to stop drugs,” he says.
But he and his crew for darn sure helped put a dent in it.It was the war on drugs. It was the 1980s. It was America’s mission. It was America’s message to eradicate it.
Timmons knew the deal. After all, he was a fighter for justice. A crime fighter.
It was in Timmons DNA. He was a cop in Oak Park.
But this guy wanted to sink his teeth into something he saw as grittier. “It was always my goal to get into the FBI. I spent time in the army assigned to the SID.”So, ultimately, he became a special agent for the FBI.“I was based in Detroit.”And Timmons was itching to get to work and do the duties of the job by any means necessary.
Timmons Went under cover and fit the role to a tee.
“We’d been working motorcycle gangs and the FBI had developed, though a partner, that these motorcycle gangs were a threat and they were working under what is called non-traditional organized crime.”
Throughout metro Detroit, Michigan, and nationwide, he says. And in 1982.
“We ended up catching a rather notorious fugitive that was wanted for a lot of crimes. Bombing, firing rockets,” he says. “He had done time, 7 federal penitentiaries. He was going back for life. And we kind of made him an offer that he couldn’t refuse.’
That guy became a confidential informant - a CI.
And inform he did.
“Repeatedly I was told, well there’s something out there bigger than you even know. And finally, we went from source to source and we developed one source that was connected to the operation in the Cayman Islands.”
And that “source” was from the Great Lakes state.
“When he started cooperating, we identified over 200 airplane loads of drugs that came in here, cocaine and marijuana, shiploads. Anywhere from 60-thousand pounds to a 150, to 300-thousand pounds that all were tractor-trailer here and stored in a warehouse on 8 Mile.”
The FBI set-up round the clock surveillance at the apartment complex in Southfield.
“Marijuana and they got into cocaine later on, was coming in, all started here. They came here. The airplanes load which were 12-13 hundred pounds, non-stop from Columbia to Antrim County Airport,” he says. “It was a massive organization. It’s airplanes, ships, shrimp boats, barges. We started putting phone records together. All these things started to connect. Where it came to a point where I said I have to go to my bosses and say hey. There’s something big here and there’s something to it.’
So, guess who went even deeper undercover?
“The one source, he had agreed to take me into the Cayman Islands and meet the top guy.”
Now that source, was sketchy, unpredictable, unstable at best, according to Timmons.
“Into the Cayman Islands, with no backup. No way to get help.”
What the heck was he thinking? His alias was Ed Thomas. His “said” occupation?
“They believed that I had worked for the Saudis, you know the sheiks and stuff, doing security and that’s all that needed to be said,” he says. “And you become an actor. Knowing that if you screw up, there’s a big penalty.”
Survive or die. Well, some 40 years later he’s here, so.
“They trusted me, and we got the job done. But there’s always another job to do. Any regrets? No, no,” he says. “The credit has to go to the FBI and its ability to work a massive case like this and coordinate it. Every division working together. Every agent working together.”
With hundreds of agents to bust an international drug cartel wide open.“
Indicted and convicted 300 people involved in smuggling. We seized a lot of property. We seized a lot of money,” he says. “We identified General Noriega, the president of Panama, as being involved in the conspiracy to smuggle drugs to, launder money. I mean millions.”
Now this all went down back in the 80s. Why talk about it now?
“Ochoa, Escabor, Julio David Nassar, that would hold a grudge. They are all dead. A lot of the sources are dead, and it was just timing,’ he says. “Most of the smugglers at the top, that I arrested or was instrumental in, still stay in contact with me. I don’t know, I can’t get rid of them. They just bonded with me. And I thought that we can tell the story now. Today it’s in a podcast. A tell-all podcast- Deep Cover. By Jake Halpern.”
So, consider this a dive into this incredible story.
But The Gentleman Smuggler - Deep Cover: The Drug Wars, goes even deeper in the podcast.
More details. More names.
More crimes and more intrigue.
You can check it out on Apple and Spotify.
It’s a Pushkin Industries production, narrated by Jake Halpern.
A new episode is released on Mondays.