Stranger Than Fiction: Operation Cable Trap
- Timing is everything. One criminal made more than $1 million a year building cable descramblers in his basement. The day our agents showed up at his house with a search warrant, he and his pregnant wife were on their way to the hospital to deliver a baby. The agents seized one of the criminal's cars, but let him keep the other for a week so he could drive back and forth to the hospital.
- Crime doesn’t pay. One cable crook placed an ad in an electronics magazine (see below) selling surveillance videos and transcripts of wiretaps from the case—information his lawyers had gathered before his trial was to begin. His discounted asking price? $199.95. "See: The successful prosecution develop from start to finish!," the ad read. Oddly enough, the prosecution was so successful that the crook himself pled guilty and landed in jail!
- Caught on film. Years earlier, this same criminal took an unusual tack to get his suppliers in China to provide more cable boxes. He sent them a photo of himself and two employees at his company in California. They were holding cable boxes and frowning. Their message: "We desperately need more cable boxes! Send them now!"
- “I need them like blood.” A few days before Smith was arrested by our undercover agents, he told the agents over the phone how desperate he was for the cable boxes, saying, "I need them like blood."
- Lights … camera ... crime! Once, thieves came up with a bold plan to get 3,500 more cable boxes—steal them from a Los Angeles Police Department evidence locker. The locker was located in an old jail site that was often rented out to movie companies. The thieves, who were in cahoots with a crooked security guard at the site, drove up to the facility in an empty truck under the guise that they were there to film a music video. Instead, they cleaned out the locker and drove off.
- Even the crooks got conned. The corrupt lawyer (who later shot himself in the neck) guaranteed several defendants in the case that they wouldn't go to jail if they paid him tens of thousands of dollars. One criminal landed in the slammer, got mad, and spilled the beans on the lawyer's actions to our agents.