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Pushkin. A question was nagging me. Who killed truth? This truth problem. It isn't just bad. It's deadly. I'm Joe Lapore and I'm a historian at Harvard and a staff writer at The New Yorker. I spent a lot of time trying to solve mysteries like this one. So I decided to start a podcast. It's called The Last Archive. He'll tell 10 stories from the last hundred years. A History of America and of our arguments about truth and evidence.
The last archive brought to you by Pushkin Industries. Previously on Deep Cover in Michigan in the early 1980s, an FBI agent named Ned Timmons followed a hunch. He believed that a drug ring was smuggling massive amounts of pot into America and he thought the local biker gangs were involved in some way. So Ned went undercover using a new name. Thomas. He grew up Fu Manchu mustache, rode a Harley Davidson and started hanging out in Roadside Honky. All the while gathering Intel warhead sources up in northern Michigan bikers.
And they would talk about the bikers would get their supply and we'd win when these big shipments would come in, you know, which is fifty thousand pounds, a hundred thousand pounds or whatever, come into the Detroit warehouse.
Ned kept hearing chatter. There's just huge deal out there. And it involves shrimp boats and barges and airplanes and. So I told my bosses about it, you know, and they kind of say, yeah, yeah, we were, you know, Ray Timmons, what? He's smokin. Ned heard that this part might be headed to a storage facility somewhere in Detroit. The Eldorado of stash houses over at the FBI. Ned's bosses had their doubts. But Ned stayed on the trail of Intel, hanging out with his informants.
Whenever I walked into a house or one of their houses or hotel or where they were, I always had it in my head. Okay, what if this happens? What if this happened? I would go through a checklist of what I would do. Well, you know, eyes had gone, obviously. And here I was looking half the time I turned around and those guys had guns and they're not supposed to. Ned's main informant was still Toby Anderson.
The violent, erratic biker slash country western singer told me was a hand grenade with a piano.
He just had just a matter of time till he self-destruct or just died in a hail of bullets or something. He just he just couldn't control them. He's just crazy. He was difficult to manage. Yes, but he was also giving them just enough, you know, crumbs. He connected with other bikers. He'd help them set up drug busts enough so that netiquette tell his bosses.
Look, I'm making progress. Like at one point, Toby introduces him to another criminal. And together, the three of them set up a sting out in California. Their plan was to get meth from some dealers way out in the sticks.
There's a big field and there's mountains up each side and there's some hillbilly there at the gate, and he meets us and gets us through this gate and it's, you know, it's just a two track sagebrush cactus and just type mountain desert. And we get near the barn and outcomes this frickin 500 pound pig in a big pig. And so what the fuck is that? You know, that's the guard hog. These women said, well, he smells people off their, you know, in the mountains, are trying to surveil us or whatever else.
And that's true. A pig has one of the best noses in the world. What really surprised, Ned, is what these hillbillies are feeding their prized guard pig. They'd soak up big onion. We don't in in in math and throw it to the pig. The pig loved that. I mean, he's, like, only wanted. He wanted a fucking onion. You know, I didn't really trust him because he's really fucking big and he's got Tosteson shit.
And this was Ned's life now sneaking past a drugged up pig slide. Open the barn door and it's all, hey, pull out a bale in the middle and you can crawl through the crawl through the tunnel, through the hay bales, and you come into a big room, sturdy stations set up for one night. Cook Ned said it was the biggest meth lab he'd ever seen. He handed off the intel and a few weeks later, the authorities busted the place.
And it also clarified something for Ned. Yeah. He was a full time undercover FBI agent trying to figure out if the rumors he'd been hearing were true. But he also had another maybe equally important job title now baby sitter. We were driving someplace and I've seen Tobey's in the backseat and pulls out a gun. Well, he could have just easy popped one in the back my head. But I was so pissed at him the way I pulled over, took the gun away from and threw it off the cliff.
I mean, he knew he had he had his tail between his legs, you know, he knew he'd get spanked. I'm Jake Halpern, and this is Deep Cover. Episode two, What will the neighbors think? Ned kept pushing Toby for Intel, and sometimes, apparently Toby would just lose it on Ned, saying he was scared. Their cover would be blown. That word might get out among Detroit's biker gangs that Toby was an informant and that they were working together.
In Neds noir novel, he depicts one of Tobey's panicked rants, Toby tells him they'll kill us. We fuck up and they'll kill us. You understand? No one will even find the bodies. Just shoot us and stick us in Nevada as assumption. You have any idea how fucking dangerous this shit is? Ned nodded. But Toby grabbed it by the arm, leaned in close, close enough, he could smell the ether of the cigarettes and the BAEO.
Do you brush. Fucking butter. Because it's me and you out there dangling right over the goddamn edge. The dialogue may sound a bit stilted, but Ned insists the essence is accurate and that in a way, the distrust was mutual. Ned was keenly aware of how dangerous, how precarious their relationship was becoming. You don't just go out in an hour and do something and get a fugitive or whatever. We work for days. Sometimes we're staying in hotels, we're traveling or flying together.
We're driving together. You know, if you don't trust that guy, you got a problem because my neck is is at risk and his neck is at risk. And both of us are at risk. So I'd better trust him and he better trust me for the stuff we were doing.
Despite the risks, Ned was increasingly comfortable in his new habitat. Not just that he kind of liked it, liked being Ed Thomas, liked riding his Harley, staying out late in the bars, gathering intel.
I must go because I was doing it. There's a lot of adrenaline to it. You're out there on the edge, you know, hanging on to the edge of the cliff with your fingernails all the time. No one at the office was exactly telling them to go to these lengths, but he felt that he needed to be on duty all the time to do his job right.
You know, we did a zillion other drug deals, so we always had something going on.
What does this do to your home? Life destroys it. You live at you live it 24/7, your eyes waiting for the next call. Whether they wreck a car or steal a car, break into a house, shoot somebody, stabs somebody. It's analysts, it's like taking care of juvenile delinquents that are adult killers back home.
Ned's wife, Kathy, was discovering that her husband's alter ego was taking over. Ed Thomas now needed his own room.
We have three bedrooms. One was more like a guestroom. And I think we had a desk in there and stuff like that. I recall that he said he had they're going to put in an undercover phone here at the house, you know, so if it rings, you know, you're I'm I'm to you know, here's your name and just, you know, answer it and be cool, you know, act like you're my girlfriend. Why do I have to act like I'm your girlfriend?
Why can't I just be your wife?
Kathy was an FBI agent in Detroit, too, and she'd also gone undercover just once.
I did one undercover thing one time and I was not at all comfortable with that. I felt like everybody can look at me and see that I'm a cop. Kathy had spent the night at a gambling joint run by the mob. Getting to know the criminals. Then the cops busted in. Everyone hands up against the wall. Then they told Kathy, you're good. You can put your hands down now. But I was. I just was like, no, I don't.
I'm so embarrassed now in front of these people who have been so nice to me all night. And I just wanted out of there. It's just like, yeah, don't ever make me do something like that again. That's not me. I'm not comfortable in that situation. I feel like a big fat liar is written like all across my forehead.
Her husband, Ned. He didn't seem to have that problem. He seemed comfortable with the pressure and the deception. Or maybe it was more than that.
I think Ned always was. What? One of one of his supervisors described Ned as an edge worker. Ned was always right at the edge of going off to the criminal side.
And then one day he did the unthinkable.
He brought the criminals home with him to his leafy, upscale suburban house. Just shows up with Toby in one of his sidekicks. They all just sauntered up the driveway together. Well, they looked just like motorcycle guys. The hair, the the you know, instead of having a belt, having belts that are like chains or whatever, their jeans are not like fashionable. Their jeans are just, you know, beat up jeans and and, you know, they've got Fu Manchu mustaches and long hair.
They're not trying to give an appearance of. Like, good looking. I thought, oh, my God, what will my neighbors think, I hope they didn't see them come in because they look like really rough characters. And my neighbors belong to Oakland Hills Country Club. No one, and I truly mean no one here would ever mistake Toby or any of his buddies for golfers. This was like the ultimate intrusion into my life, into our life.
It just is unheard of. You know, it just was it was not appropriate. And it was it was I felt it was dangerous. People could. Could have followed them or seen them or, you know, now they know where we live.
OK. So that's Kathy, the homemaker worrying. But here's Kathy, the FBI agent. And she's also worried.
I had a lot of my own informants and they would never have come to my home or I never even would have like lunch with them or something. I mean, I'm an FBI agent. I'm a I'm a law enforcement person. Why would they even want to sit down any place and be seen with me? It's just compromise, that confidential relationship.
I spoke to a number of Neds former colleagues and they pretty much all agreed with Kathy. No one brought an informant home with them. It was too risky. Oddly enough, the one person I spoke with from Ned's FBI days who had also done this was his direct supervisor. He told me that he and Ned were, quote unquote, rebels. For his part, Ned defends himself, saying it was a judgment call. The decision to bring Toby home, it was calculated.
It depends on how much trust you have in your sources. And that also builds trust with the sources, the sources that can get you killed any second. Well, I'm curious, did you do it just out of kind of professional relationship building or did you do it because these were your friends and this was your wife?
I think to build a bond with the sources, you depend on those guys not to stand up and say, hey, he's a fuckin FBI agent. And you have to build this bond. So whatever it was doing seemed to work. I wouldn't recommend it to anybody. I can't teach it. I can't say that's what to do. But that's what I did, Kathy.
She didn't like it, but she didn't confront Ned or overrule him. And Ned never really asked for permission either.
Oh, no, no, no, no, no. See, Ned never checked in with me first on anything.
Our marriage was more like, hey, look, we're going to move to a new house camera. I'll take you and you will look at it. My marriage was more traditional in that regard that, you know, he said what we were gonna do back then. I'm going to blame this on the times a lot, but probably also the way I was raised. It just did not occur to me to object to my husband. He has this. He's got this.
It'll be fine. But this wasn't a one off occasion.
Ned brought Toby home with him multiple times. Kathy remembers them all hanging out on the back deck, cooking burgers, super casual.
It was kind of the opposite of the whole undercover shtick. You know, like Donnie Brasco or the FBI agent has two completely separate lives. One is a gangster and one is a suburban dad with a Teflon firewall separating them. It was almost as if Ned Timmins and Ed Thomas were morphing into a single being. Perhaps this was inevitable given that strategy of building trust. But this isn't how Kathy sees it. You know, you don't have to choose that path.
You don't have to choose to work a case in that way. You don't have to choose to go deep cover. You know, it it all evolves and. But I know for him, he felt like it was just spinning into the next. Into the next. Into the next. And and he told me that he felt like he didn't know how he was ever going to get out of it.
In the midst of all of this, Ned's game plan paid off big time. When he gets the break he's been waiting for. And it involved of all people, Tobey's little brother, a guy who went by the nickname Shining. Monster D.C. Sniper is a true crime podcast that follows host and journalist Tony Harris as he reexamines the story of the three week shooting spree that terrorized Washington, D.C. in 2002. That October, a sniper, it was killing random people as they were going about their daily tasks, just pumping gas or buying groceries or mowing the lawn.
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Listen, wherever you get your favorite podcasts sponsored by Chevron and Goldman Sachs. One day, Ned got what seemed like a big lead from Toby, though. On its face, it seemed a bit far fetched.
Toby says, I got a time where my brother is into something really big. And but he won't let us near it because he's afraid now, Rabbit. So what is it? Isn't, he says. It's as do with airplanes and boats and tractor trailer loads of dope coming to Detroit. And Toby knew he was into something big.
Ned didn't know exactly what to make of this. Planes, boats, tractor trailers, all filled with weed. Was it possible that Toby, the walking hand grenade, really had a brother who is a big time criminal orchestrating all of this? If this was true, how did Ned not picked up on this sooner?
Toby's brother went by the name Shine. His real name was Clinton Anderson. He died in the late 90s. So I had to kind of piece together a picture of who he was.
I don't have the background as to why they called him Shine. But my uncle Clint, in my in my memories of him, he was a teddy bear.
This is Jesse Anderson. Toby Sun Shine with his uncle Jesse. Loved his uncle. Adored him. I talked to a bunch of people who knew Shane well, and they all described him pretty much as this big, lovable guy. One person said he would've made a perfect Santa Claus. Another said he looked like Wilford Brimley. You know, the grandfatherly actor who starred in all the Quaker Oats commercials. When things got rough at home for Jesse, he actually went to live with his uncle Clint for a while.
He loved being there.
She's just like anywhere else, right? Kids running around playing football in the front yard, you know, watching football, watching baseball, you know, life in the 70s and early 80s, gambling, playing darts, shooting pool, you know, normal way of life.
Little Jesse had never seen a dad who could be depended on before.
I guess I wanted that for my dad. And that's that's what I always appreciated about my uncle Clint was, you know, he he was I recall him always being there. And I recall him always, you know, never having to worry like I did with my dad and my immediate, you know, line of sight and what I recall and maybe I was blinded by that because I was just so happy to be with my, you know, have a family, have a bed, wake up, go to school, not necessarily have to worry about anything.
Right. It was it was great.
Jesse says the men in his family tended to be hard and have a short fuse.
But I don't remember my Uncle Clint like that at all. I mean, again, for me, you know, the way that I look at my Uncle Clint was it was much like it was much like a savior. Shyne had a son named Adam. He was Jesse's older cousin. It took me a long time to track him down. One night, he finally agreed to speak by phone.
Jake's in his second year.
He says that Shane was a jack of all trades, a salesman and sold cars in boats, too.
Though Shane didn't talk about his work, a ton of therapy is, you know, his work and family separate. He was a good guy, but. He shine was a striver. He was always looking for something beyond the working class suburb where they started out. A place called Melvindale, a town dominated by the nearby Ford, GM and Chrysler plants.
Melvindale, I call it a factory town. Pretty much everybody there worked and want to live work for the big three in working class. Good people. But he was kind of like taking me out of that environment. So you left. There was more like, you know, you can achieve more. Now, you know, you don't have to just be a line worker all your life.
Adam had a lot of memories from that time, like when his dad came home with a new gadget, a mysterious briefcase filled with meteors and electrical wires. The device was known as a p. S E, which stood for psychological stress evaluator.
It was an alternative to the traditional lie detector and it could be used discreetly. So it didn't require hooking the subject up to any wires or anything. Supposedly, a skilled operator could use it to pick up on micro tremors in your voice. I spoke to a lot of people who knew Shine and remembered vividly him showing up with his briefcase and testing them.
Oh, yes. Here did test everybody.
There was a guy that always carried around this sort of big boxy briefcase, as I recall.
Oh, yeah. He could scare the hell on it. Sure, he was a good bullshitter, although a nervous by taking his bag on thing. He asked questions that I guess it works. He ask you what your name is. And you tell him then you tell him a lie. And so it gives them as distinction between the truth and lie.
Whether it works or not, scare the shit out of you. So I imagine it would keep people straight. And I'm sure he was one of the most valuable tools I had, you know, in doing this.
Shina graduated from a special course.
And now he was a trained PSC operator. He took it seriously. And Adam, like any kid, was curious.
It was something different. It was interesting. I didn't know I was doing it.
I called in to get a new job and the job came with perks like this one time. His dad took him on a business trip. They flew down to Houston, Texas, together. They stayed at this cool hotel that was connected to a big shopping mall.
And at some point, Shane tells his son he's like, hey, I gotta go out for a little while. No, don't move. Go leave the room. Don't answer the door.
Alone in his hotel room. Adam watched TV. Minutes turned to hours and he began to think about what his dad had said. Don't answer the door. Why not? Who was it that might come knocking? I wasn't worried exactly. But he began to wonder what was his dad up to?
But I think Mike Leavitt, whoever he was working with, had another room in the same hotel so they could have been just down the hall. I don't believe he last. I think he just grabbed his machine and went to another room.
Adam didn't ask any questions and he didn't give it too much thought at the time. But eventually he started to think back to moments like this and wonder maybe what his father did was not entirely on the up and up. I mean, who is paying him to carry around that briefcase anyway? In fact, clues began to surface. The shine was much more than just a suburban dad with a mysterious job. One of these clues turned up a thousand miles to the south, way down in Louisiana on a lonely bayou very far from Detroit.
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You can find the happiness lab wherever you listen to your podcasts. As Ned continue to investigate, the bikers in Detroit, detectives in Louisiana were looking into a big smuggling job. It all began with a guy named Dave where?
Yeah, I was a helicopter pilot assigned to Louisiana State Police in our region to southwest Louisiana.
One day, Dave gets a tip about an abandoned barge. So he goes looking for it, flies up a lonely stretch of the Vermilion River, a 70 mile long bayou. Southern Louisiana is flat.
You got agricultural fields in an area. It's a heavy marsh in big jungle type area.
And so they were just choppering along. We looked down and we see this huge barge tied off with some rope next to some trees. And I thought, well, that's odd. And we were kind of scratching our heads of what to do. And I said, well, I'll just land on the barge is like landing on aircraft carrier.
So they land on the barge. They get out of the chopper. They start poking around. And sure enough, they find a sealed hatch welded into the deck. Hidden beneath some coils of rope. And so I went to the cargo hold my aircraft and dug out my little two bag, always cared and got a screwdriver and started digging at this rubber sealant. And you got to imagine the sun was out and it was hot.
And when I popped that ceiling, it spewed just, you know, more stirred come up and the smell of marijuana. And we looked at each other, smile and said, bingo. The barge itself was quite large and basically empty. All the remained with the dregs, some psyche bails and somehow gotten wet at the bottom of the boat. Apparently, the rest of the load, totaling a few hundred thousand pounds, had all been unloaded successfully dry and ready to smoke.
A narcotics agent named Roy Fouché took up the investigation. So we walked on the barge and we saw marijuana seeds all over it. We looked through some drawers. We found a Panamanian flag. We found a Colombian flag. Well, you don't have to be Sherlock Holmes to realize that we stumble upon something that was large in scale and that it was international.
Eventually, the agents figured out that a local Marine contractor had been hired to move the barge up the river. And as luck would have it, the contractors had a receipt with the customers callback number on it. Traced the call back?
No. And it went to a small grocery store in a rural area in Judi's, Louisiana.
And the name of the store was the Country Boy Grocery Store.
So we went to the country bar grocery store. And I'm talking about a small building. It had a couple of gas pumps in front and a small meat market inside. They specialized in Cajun food like stuffed chickens, buthe cracklings, that sort of thing.
So we talked to the owner who was this guy's first language, which Cajun French. And he said with his accent, he said, you know, in the last three months, there's been a lot of foreigners in my store. What do you mean by foreigners? He said, you know, he said out of towners, people with blond hair and blue eyes and tan.
He said, you know, Florida looking people. So turns out these Florida looking people had rented a couple of houses nearby. The agents got search warrants.
It was a three bedroom, two bath, ranch style house. It was close to the country bar, grocery store.
And when we hit it, it had lots and lots of bunk beds, lots of beer bottles, lots of cans of beer, some half empty, half eaten sandwiches on the floor. I remember one of my guys said it looked like a scene from Animal House.
Roy starts poking around the living room and on the coffee table, I saw a large red book. Hardbound New York Times World Atlas opened it up, started looking at it, looking good actually for the Gulf of Mexico.
Saw that that there was a chart with a pin marking places through the Gulf of Mexico and that backed it up and it went down to bear and kill Colombia.
It was quite literally mapped out in front of them. Evidence of an international syndicate with roots for smuggling tons of drugs into the United States. But everyone is gone. They don't have a single suspect. Roy and his partner Harvey Plants continue to search the house.
We found a yellow notepad with lines on it, like you would use in school. And it didn't have any writing on it, but it had indentations where somebody had written on the page above it and then tore the page off. Harvey remembered from grade school he took a number two pencil out of his truck and he scratched over the indentations. And we found a note. Course, we didn't have the whole note, just whatever came up that Harvey could scribble out there.
But it basically said he was bringing more people, more people on the way. Harvey kneels over the table, carefully rubbing a pencil over the pad, deciphering this cryptic note, word by word. The whole thing right out of a Hitchcock movie.
This is exactly what Carey Grant does. North by Northwest. And it works at the bottom of the pad. There's actually a signature. Someone wrote their name as if authorizing these orders. And slowly the letters of the name appear. S h. I and E.. Back in Detroit, Ned had no idea what had gone down in Louisiana. He was back at the office doing a bit of good old fashioned detective work, following up on that tip that Toby had given him about his brother.
And the deeper Ned dug into Shine's life, the more he found.
We're looking at what he has, a house and cars and everything and no source of income. And then we're pulling phone records, bank records and everything and huge deposits of, you know, 50, 60 thousand at a time. And we're getting travel records from credit cards.
And Ned says that those travel records were suspicious. For instance, Shyne had spent some time down in the Cayman Islands, which was known as a money laundering hub. So might shine be his guy, the one that had been looking for the key to it all. If NAB was right, he had found his link to a distant, shadowy drug network. But it didn't seem like he had quite enough to go on. Ned believed if he could just sit down with Shine, talk to him man to man, he might be able to work him, maybe even Flippen.
He was starting to strategize. Even though he didn't have much to threaten Shyne with, except maybe his badge. It sounds like you were doing some serious bullshitting of your own and also you could be barking up the wrong tree. You don't know for sure the magnitude of the right part of the game. The FBI knows a lot, but a lot of it is a game to try to ferret out the information you need. When you throw down the FBI badge and credentials.
It horrifies guilty people. They think the FBI knows everything. Next time and deep cover, Ned goes to flip shine. China had a family and it was really a devoted family guy. I'm sure I'm going to take every penny they got. I won't take the house. I will take the cars and take the bank accounts. Everything's going to be gone. And that struck a dagger and a. Deep cover is produced by Jacob Smith and edited by Karen Shika.
Our story editor is Jack Hitt. Original music in our theme was composed by Louis Scarra and Flon Williams is our engineer. Fact Checking by Amy Gaines. Mia Bell is Pushkin's executive producer. Netz novel is read by Walton Goggins. Special thanks to Julia Barton, Heather Fain, Carly Migliore, Lee, Tom Molad, Maya Caning, Eric Sandler, Maggie Taylor, Kadija Holland, Zooey Gwinn and Jacob Weisberg at Pushkin Industries. Special thanks also to Jeff Singer.
It's still way entertainment. I'm Jake Halpern.