Saturday, January 26, 2008

The "Drug Wars" (1) Riga, Latvia 1995

"Don't worry! Fousesquawk is looking out for security"

*I thought I would add a new wrinkle to this blog based on my 25 years career with the US Drug Enforcement Administration (actually 2.5 years of that were with US Customs). In my career (1970-1995), I had the chance to travel all over the world and live 3 years in Thailand and 5 years in Italy. The experiences I will recount are not so much "war stories" as they are humorous in nature. Anyone who has spent a career in law enforcement has a boatload of genuinely funny stories to tell besides the obvious ones that are shocking, scary or sad. I hope you enjoy them.

From 1990 to my retirement in 1995, I was assigned to DEA's Office of Training, located at the FBI Academy in Quantico, Va. The final two years were spent in our International Training section. Working in teams of about five members, we literally traveled the world putting on drug law enforcement training seminars for foreign narcotic officers. The entire program was funded by the State Department.

The last trip I took in the summer of 1995 before I retired was to Riga, Latvia, where we held a training seminar for officers from Latvia, Estonia and Lithuania. The seminar was held in the SAS Hotel, which was just opening. In fact, construction was still on-going. The front facade of the hotel was still being painted, and there was a giant construction crane (cherry-picker)being used during the day by the workers. We also stayed at the hotel, as did the cops from Lithuania and Estonia, who received per diem to cover their living expenses while in Riga.

The cops from Lithuania (5-6 of them as I recall)were, to put it bluntly, wild men. Most of the money we paid them for per diem was used to carrouse at night-with all that term entails.

Late one evening, the Lithuanians returned to the hotel accompanied by a few "ladies of the evening". Upon entering the lobby, hotel security immediately stopped them and informed them that they could not bring the girls into the hotel. Little did the security people know that these Lithuanians were very resourceful guys. Seems one of them had been a construction worker and knew how to operate a cherry-picker. Well, you can guess how this story ended; seeing the crane, the cops put the girls into the cabin- up to the top floor, over the balcony and into the room.

Needless to say, the hotel manager was not too happy when he found out. (He had no sense of humor.)

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