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seanof30306
11-10-2015, 08:26 PM
I'm doing research for a story I'm writing. A central plot point is a big drug deal: a group of sellers and a group of buyers meeting at a remote location to consummate the deal.

I need to understand how that might happen; the mechanics of it. The drug being sold is not that important; I'm leaning towards bricks of heroin wrapped in tinfoil. The important thing to the story is the cash being used for the purchase. It needs to be a least a million bucks, no more than two.

I don't want to rip off No Country For Old Men and have the money bundled nicely in a Jeppeson case. It seems like most movies and TV shows use Jepp cases, or attache cases.

In the Breaking Bad season one episode: A No-Rough-Stuff-Type Deal, when Walt and Jesse met Tuco in the junkyard, Tuco's flunky had a big freezer bag with $70,00 in rolls that looked to be about $10,000 each. I find that intriguing, and cool.

I need to find out what those rolls are called, an make sure they actually are $10,000 each. I read one place they're called "knots". Is that correct?

On a bigger drug deal, like the one in my story, if those rolls of cash were what was being used, how would they be transported? Would they just go to Wal-Mart and get a suitcase with wheels and a handle, or maybe just throw the rolls into a cardboard box? Say you could get $100,000 in those rolls into a really big freezer bag. Might they just toss 10, or 20 of those freezer bags into a box? I imagined the trunk of a car full of those plastic bags they bag your stuff in at Wal-mart, except filled with rolls of cash.

I'm looking for something more Tuco-like, and less highbrow than what I've seen in most movies, and TV shows. Something improbable .... but true-to-life.

I've spent some time in the cage in a casino. The first time I walked in there, I was blown away by the hundreds of thousands of dollars literally just sitting out on the tables, and on carts back there, and everyone working around it being oblivious to it. I soon learned that after you're around it for awhile, you lose all regard for the money. All those $50,000 bricks of hundred-dollar bills are just paper to you, after a time.

That's how I imagine all that cash would be to big-time drug dealers. It sure appeared that way with Tuco, and that's what I want to portray in my story, if it is, in fact the way it works.

I also want to learn more about how this type of deal might go down, in-general. I want to portray it as accurately as possible, and offer the reader detail and insight they might not otherwise know.

Any help would be greatly appreciated.

GeorgeK
11-10-2015, 10:19 PM
I have no experience with drug deals. My experience with dealers has been limited taking care of them as trauma patients after they played with the knife and gun club. Generally they were very polite and seemed honest or at least believable about their medical histories.

Just thinking about the dealing though I'd imagine that whatever containers were used for both the drugs and the money would be attire specific. It would look suspicious for someone in ratty jeans and a dirty T-shirt to be carrying a briefcase. Likewise it would seem suspicious for someone in a suit to be carrying a duffelbag. I wouldn't be surprised if varying factions brought empty containers to transfer their stuff to.

King Neptune
11-10-2015, 11:46 PM
How big the deal is and what item is being sold would be significant to how things would happen. Who is involved and where are also significant matters. One thing to remember is that the pros don't get caught; some have been in business for decades without any arrest record. In the real large scale business people expect that they will not be noticed or suspected. Have you ever seen diamond dealers make a deal? That market is also a large and unregulated market, so things are similar to the illegal drug market.

jclarkdawe
11-11-2015, 05:23 AM
How big a deal? Remember that the police inflate the value of things.

Money weighs a lot. Largest bill in circulation is a $100 bill. A million dollars in hundreds weighs about 20 to 25 pounds. Obviously smaller bills weigh even more. Here is one person's measurement of one million dollars in hundreds -- The pile is 12" wide (2 x 6"), 12.5" deep (5 x 2.5") and 4.3" high (10 x .43"). If the bills won't go flat, the space taken is more.

You can transport it in a shopping bag, a backpack, a case, a duffle bag, a cooler, whatever floats your boat. One guy had a washer and drier in the back of his pickup, with a claim he was moving. Big chunk of cash in the washer, and drugs in the drier.

A knot can be in a roll or flat, or folded. Rolls are risky. You might get a grifter's roll. (That's a roll with big bills on the outside and ones on the inside.) Flat is the easiest to flip through quickly and make sure no one has slipped small bills in.

What you have to balance with drug deals for the money is whether you can do it all electronically, or whether it has to be done in person. Cash, especially large amounts, is a big pain in the butt. And laundering money is become harder and harder as the Feds put more and more pressure on places.

Best of luck,

Jim Clark-Dawe

seanof30306
11-11-2015, 11:53 AM
Thanks for the help y'all. Good information.

I need more specific info, though.

I had a short conversation with a guy who used to run drugs awhile back, and got some good general information. He's in prison now, and hasn't answered my letters, so I've lost my source now that I'm looking for much more specific information.

According to him, on a wholesale drug deal, the prices will vary according to a number of factors, including:

The size of the buy

The relationship ... regular customers get better prices than one-timers, or first-timers.

The number of middlemen it has to go through.

How far into the US it has to be transported. For example, he said if you went into Mexico, you could get whatever you're wanting really cheap. If it's brought into the US, the price goes up dramatically, and the farther they transport it into the US, the more they will normally charge.

So what I had in mind was a drug deal that involved a big drug gang in Chicago, and a Mexican drug cartel taking place somewhere around halfway between Chicago and the Mexican border. There needs to be between 1, and 2 million bucks involved. That's the only thing I have set in stone; I'm flexible on every other detail.

The guy I talked to said deals that big were pretty rare. He said the only way that would happen would be a direct deal between the cartel, and the gang; no middlemen. He also said there would have to be a long-standing relationship between the gang and the cartel for that big of a deal to happen. Too much risk without whatever amount of trust there can ever be between drug dealers and their supplier. He said a deal that big would require years of smaller deals coming off without a hitch.

Jim Clark-Dawe, your point about the money being in rolls potentially being grifters' rolls is a good one. With currency counting machines being so common nowadays, I guess any drug gang that moves enough product and cash as the one in my story does would have them, and it would actually be easier to strap the hundred-dollar bills after the machine counts them than it would be to roll them. Some of the higher-end machines actually strap them for you.

In poker/casino parlance, $10,000 in hundreds is called a "strap", or a "rack". $50,000 in hundreds, whether five straps rubber-banded together, or five hundred loose hundred-dollar bills bound by a strap, or rubber bands is called a "brick". Is it the same in the drug world? What other slang terms are there for money?

Ever watch Poker After Dark, or High Stakes Poker? It's common for professional poker players to walk in casually carrying a run-of-the-mill plastic grocery bag containing bricks of hundreds bound by rubber bands. They do it to show they have no regard for the money. The other players in the game show they have no regard for money by allowing those bricks to play, uncounted (God help the guy whose bricks are later found to contain less than fifty grand, though).

As far as the space taken up by the money, I don't envision these being new bills. I my experience, a brick made up of used bills that was not strapped by a machine is roughly half-again as tall as a brick of new bills.

GeorgeK, I think you made some good points, but I see this money as being in the trunk of a car, or in the back of an SUV, not carried on someone's person. I'd think it would be packaged in an innocuous manner so as not to draw attention if someone saw it. Maybe it would even be hidden, or disguised.

King Neptune, you make a lot of sense. I actually knew a woman whose father was a diamond dealer in New York. He dressed modestly, always carried an attache case, but carried the actual diamonds in a secret pocket sewn into his suit. His attache case was stolen more than once. He always kept fake diamonds in it so crooks would think they actually had something.

What I'm looking for are specific details on how that much money (and drugs) would be transported by professionals who have been doing it for years.

Bufty
11-11-2015, 02:36 PM
If I were a reader I would accept whatever I read provided it was believable within the story parameters. Imagination and originality will surely trump reality.

Good luck.

onesecondglance
11-11-2015, 04:30 PM
seanof, you might be able to find this kind of info out from Government reports etc.

See for instance this UK Home Office report on the drugs trade (http://absolutewrite.com/forums/showthread.php?8256-Resources-and-Links&p=7782273&viewfull=1#post7782273), which provides a lot of solid info and some fun anecdotes along the way.

Short version - drugs are big business, and the trade is structured more like a big business than you might believe. Layers of management and delegation, and a strong focus on risk mitigation. I could well imagine deals like the one you describe being rare, because they're inherently high risk.

King Neptune
11-11-2015, 05:09 PM
As I mentioned earlier, where, what, and who are important. You answered where, but what is the gang buying? Were you trying to imply that it was maryjane with mentions of cartels? The Mexican cartels also handle heroin and cocaine; although the volumes are smaller. With 1 to 2 million involved, there's a good chance that the money and the shipment wouldn't be at the same place. Someone would hand over the money, and the person receiving it would call the person controlling the shipment and order it turned over to the buyers, who would be waiting nearby. Specific locations would depend on what was being sold. A million dollars worth of maryjane doesn't fit into a dufflebag, so it would be in a trailer ready to be dragged away by the buyers, or they would have it in a warehouse ready to be loaded.

jclarkdawe
11-11-2015, 06:34 PM
Money is bundled for convenience. The thicker the brick, the harder it is to hide. A hundred one hundred dollar bills forms a bundle of $10,000. Relatively slim and convenient to hide. You can easily hide this under the back seat of most cars. Where you hide it is up to you and your imagination.

But here's your problem with cash -- the Financial Action Task Force on Money Laundering list or FATF. Very few countries are not reporting large transactions, especially large transactions involving cash, to the US. So in your scenario, the seller ends up with a million in cash. This cash is subject to seizure, even though holding onto cash in the US is legal. It then has to be smuggled out of the US, transported to the country of origin for the seller, fed into that country's banking system before it is useful money. The seller will lose about half the value of the cash. It's hard for the seller to feed the cash into the US system if the seller is not native to the US.

If the buyer's can convert the cash into electronic funds, there's virtually no loss in value with the transfer. Nor is it subject to seizure by the US or some other country. It's easy to put a broker in between the two parties to hold the money/electronic funds until the deal goes through. It's safer for the seller because he doesn't have to trust his underlings with cash.

These are the big transactions involving such things as subs or planes to deliver to the US. Only a couple of the people for the seller are at risk. Minimal amount of information that the transport people can give the Feds if they get busted. Risk of loss is established between the parties. Cash would never get within a hundred miles of the drugs.

Remember that drugs are very cheap to make. Price is sent up because of the risks involved. The pickup people for the buyer are at risk, but no one big for the buyer is going to be anywhere near the drugs or the cash.

The large transactions are done like a big business and are long term relationships.

The mid-size transactions, usually reported by the police as a "major" drug bust, are on a much smaller scale. Here's where the buyer might be picking up the drugs and carrying the cash.

You can carry bricks of money in a jacket, or however else you want to carry it.

Best of luck,

Jim Clark-Dawe

seanof30306
11-11-2015, 06:45 PM
As I mentioned earlier, where, what, and who are important. You answered where, but what is the gang buying? Were you trying to imply that it was maryjane with mentions of cartels? The Mexican cartels also handle heroin and cocaine; although the volumes are smaller. With 1 to 2 million involved, there's a good chance that the money and the shipment wouldn't be at the same place. Someone would hand over the money, and the person receiving it would call the person controlling the shipment and order it turned over to the buyers, who would be waiting nearby. Specific locations would depend on what was being sold. A million dollars worth of maryjane doesn't fit into a dufflebag, so it would be in a trailer ready to be dragged away by the buyers, or they would have it in a warehouse ready to be loaded.

But I laid ALL of that out in my OP

King Neptune
11-11-2015, 08:19 PM
But I laid ALL of that out in my OP

No, you didn't mention whether they would be doing the transaction in a motel room or in the middle of a parking lot or in an office. And you didn't mention what was being bought and sold; marijuana and heroin are not the same.

What do you want to have happen?
Judging from some of your questions you may want someone to walk in with a suitcase full cof cash and hand that over for a suitcase full of product. That would be fine for $30 or 100,000 worth of something, but people don't tuck a million and a half into a suitcase.

If you want to, then you can just make up whatever you want. Most people won't doubt the details or care about them.

seanof30306
11-12-2015, 12:10 AM
No, you didn't mention whether they would be doing the transaction in a motel room or in the middle of a parking lot or in an office.

Line #1: "I'm doing research for a story I'm writing. A central plot point is a big drug deal: a group of sellers and a group of buyers meeting at a remote location to consummate the deal.




And you didn't mention what was being bought and sold; marijuana and heroin are not the same.

Line #2: "The drug being sold is not that important; I'm leaning towards bricks of heroin wrapped in tinfoil."



What do you want to have happen?

I want to have a drug deal happen in a remote location, as I say in Line #3 "The important thing to the story is the cash being used for the purchase. It needs to be a least a million bucks, no more than two."



Judging from some of your questions you may want someone to walk in with a suitcase full cof cash and hand that over for a suitcase full of product. That would be fine for $30 or 100,000 worth of something, but people don't tuck a million and a half into a suitcase.

https://news.vice.com/article/dea-announces-massive-nyc-heroin-bust-with-suspected-ties-to-sinaloa-cartel



If you want to, then you can just make up whatever you want. Most people won't doubt the details or care about them.

I do

King Neptune
11-12-2015, 12:45 AM
Line #1: "I'm doing research for a story I'm writing. A central plot point is a big drug deal: a group of sellers and a group of buyers meeting at a remote location to consummate the deal.

Where? A remote place in Central park? A remote spot in the Sonoran Desert? A remote place in North Dakota?
How are they getting there, if it's truly remote?
Remote locations are not good, because they are hard to get to and hard to get away from. You want a place with good road access.

Line #2: "The drug being sold is not that important; I'm leaning towards bricks of heroin wrapped in tinfoil."

The drug would determine much of the logistical planning. Heroin could go in the floor of a minivan, while marijuana would require at least one large box trailer.


I want to have a drug deal happen in a remote location, as I say in Line #3 "The important thing to the story is the cash being used for the purchase. It needs to be a least a million bucks, no more than two."

https://news.vice.com/article/dea-announces-massive-nyc-heroin-bust-with-suspected-ties-to-sinaloa-cartel


Does your deal lead to arrest?

As JCD pointed out laundering costs a lot.

I think you have most of the information you need. You just have to put the planning and logistics together so that they will work.

Addendum: There are many possible variations in almost all facets of a drug deal. What makes sense in one transaction might not make sense in other deals. The main considerations are making sure that nothing is lost and there are no arrests. Just as street dealers don't operate in dead end alleys, the big guys make sure that there are plenty of ways to get away fast. Not being robbed is also important, and that's on both sides. It is not unusual for someone to charge into a place where a sale is happening and stealing money and drugs. Avoiding things like that requires security, and for the largest transactions not having the money and goods together in one place. The money need not even be in the same country. Having the money swap happen in your friendly, cooperative bank on some island with loose laws is desirable.

jclarkdawe
11-12-2015, 01:12 AM
One to two million isn't a big transaction, but merely a large one. Reality is that after a certain point in cash and/or drugs, you've maxed out if you get busted. However, the risks of the transaction going south increase with the size of the deal.

So big supplier smuggles in 100 kilos of heroin into the United States. Big supplier needs to move this product, but buyers can't afford the whole thing. They want it in smaller pieces that they can then sell. So buyer offers to buy 20 kilos for $50,000 a kilo or one million in total. This is a big deal for the supplier, but this is actually the small end of the business for the supplier. Remember he's got 100 kilos sitting in his "warehouse."

Here's where the trust level matters. If there's a lot of trust, the money and the drugs never meet, but my guess is you don't want something like that. Agreement is reached on the number of people each side can bring to the meet, usually three on each side. One is the courier/boss and the other two are body guards. Meeting site wants good access to several highway routes. Parking lots for commuters are a good location.

Nobody counts at the scene, unless they've been corrupted by TV. You're only going to do a deal like this with a fair amount of faith on each side. Police join the party and you're looking at many, many years in prison. So no need to count at the scene. No one is out to screw the other.

It can be as quick and easy as exchanging two shopping bags, one drugs, one cash.

It would definitely not be a group of buyers and/or sellers. One buyer. One seller. A couple of guards. There's no need for a crowd to attract the attention of the police.

Best of luck,

Jim Clark-Dawe

seanof30306
11-12-2015, 04:03 AM
Where? A remote place in Central park? A remote spot in the Sonoran Desert? A remote place in North Dakota?
How are they getting there, if it's truly remote?
Remote locations are not good, because they are hard to get to and hard to get away from. You want a place with good road access.


The drug would determine much of the logistical planning. Heroin could go in the floor of a minivan, while marijuana would require at least one large box trailer.



Does your deal lead to arrest?

As JCD pointed out laundering costs a lot.

I think you have most of the information you need. You just have to put the planning and logistics together so that they will work.

Addendum: There are many possible variations in almost all facets of a drug deal. What makes sense in one transaction might not make sense in other deals. The main considerations are making sure that nothing is lost and there are no arrests. Just as street dealers don't operate in dead end alleys, the big guys make sure that there are plenty of ways to get away fast. Not being robbed is also important, and that's on both sides. It is not unusual for someone to charge into a place where a sale is happening and stealing money and drugs. Avoiding things like that requires security, and for the largest transactions not having the money and goods together in one place. The money need not even be in the same country. Having the money swap happen in your friendly, cooperative bank on some island with loose laws is desirable.



.


So what I had in mind was a drug deal that involved a big drug gang in Chicago, and a Mexican drug cartel taking place somewhere around halfway between Chicago and the Mexican border. There needs to be between 1, and 2 million bucks involved. That's the only thing I have set in stone; I'm flexible on every other detail.

King Neptune
11-12-2015, 04:58 AM
Location: Walmart parking lot off North Kansas Expy near I 44 interchange
Goods: 20 kilograms of heroin @ $75,000 per kilo Total price $1,500,000
Heroin to be packed into a minivan with fake floor over it.
Money packed up in 150 stacks of 100 $100's; packed into pillowcases inside a Walmart shopping bags, so that it wouldn't be out of place in a Walmart parking lot.
Add the personnel and you'll have everything.

seanof30306
11-12-2015, 05:47 AM
Location: Walmart parking lot off North Kansas Expy near I 44 interchange
Goods: 20 kilograms of heroin @ $75,000 per kilo Total price $1,500,000
Heroin to be packed into a minivan with fake floor over it.
Money packed up in 150 stacks of 100 $100's; packed into pillowcases inside a Walmart shopping bags, so that it wouldn't be out of place in a Walmart parking lot.
Add the personnel and you'll have everything.

OK, that's exactly the kind of information I'm looking for. Thank you.

I especially like the idea of the pillowcases. That's pretty cool.

I was thinking it would be cool for both sides to buy identical cars, SUVs, or minivans. Then, they could pull in, parking near each other, go inside, surreptitiously swap keys, and drive off in the other vehicle. That would minimize their exposure. After the deal was done, they would just drop the vehicles off at chop shops.

Plausible?

King Neptune
11-12-2015, 05:54 AM
OK, that's exactly the kind of information I'm looking for. Thank you.

I especially like the idea of the pillowcases. That's pretty cool.

I was thinking it would be cool for both sides to buy identical cars, SUVs, or minivans. Then, they could pull in, parking near each other, go inside, surreptitiously swap keys, and drive off in the other vehicle. That would minimize their exposure. After the deal was done, they would just drop the vehicles off at chop shops.

Plausible?

Sure, that's completely plausible, and it won't make any difference until the registration expires. They could also park bacl to back with rear doors open and Move things in a few minutes. It isn't a huge amount of material, and people do stranger things in Walmart parking lots regularly, even frequently.

ironmikezero
11-12-2015, 08:45 PM
Just a note in passing; large quantities of cash--especially older US notes that have been in circulation a while--have a rather distinct smell (kind of musty). A savvy buyer would know this and likely (plastic) wrap the cash to minimize potential detection; however, it usually doesn't fool trained LE dogs (such an alert can constitute probable cause for a search).