THIS IS AS MUCH MINDSET AS TRADECRAFT so I figured I would cross post



This isnt going be great tales of daring do but a more methodical approach in the beginning. I will in time go into general details of what happened on specific events as I expect this to be an expanding thread. Anyone else that has done this in the business is WELCOME to add to the knowledge base if they wish. I know there are several approaches and mine is only one, and geared around a specific group at that. However, "this is a bad idea" or "that doesnt work" is not welcome. Im still here, it did and does work, and did work during a period where lots of my UC time was solo without a backup team on standby (I might even discuss the reasons for this at a later time as well)

I really want this thread to be about sharing knowledge and not a mine is bigger contest.

The Grey Man, lessons learned from my time in undercover work.
We talk a lot about tradecraft, and “fitting in” , discussing being the gray man. I had the opportunity some years ago to work in an undercover capacity for a number of years and was very successful at it (meaning I made lots of good cases, put lots of bad people in prison, and didn’t end up dead in a 55 gallon drum or strapped to fencepost with a tire around my neck) , if there is another occupation where it is more important to blend in Im not sure what it is.

That said, I can only relate MY experience and tools, Jonathan Nobody, Gabe, and Sua would likely have different impressions based on their respective AOs and the specifics could change significantly depending on the group and locale.

DEVELOPING YOUR COVER: Ive said many times that if you can give me a successful used car salesman that has the mental fortitude to kill when necessary I can make you a great narc, or mental health officer. Most important in developing your cover is the ability to get people to believe and side with you. You are selling yourself and making it advantageous to know you.

Learn as much as you can about the culture you are going to enter, in my case it was bikers and Aryans so I will use that as an example. I already had a handle on the motorcycle culture as Ive been riding since I was seven and have rarely gone more than six months of my life without a bike since then.

The aryan part wasn’t difficult but it was time consuming. I read copious amounts of material on stormfront, white aryan resistance, and other sites, read between the lines on numerous thread discussions, how they discussed current events of the time. I learned to recite variations of the 14 words. I then rounded out my education by reading the Turner Diaries and other fiction developed by the culture.

I read every intelligence report I could on the specific groups I was targeting, the history we knew of the individuals within this group. Its important to know that Bubba Ayos nephew was killed by a Mexican Mafia member before the last treaty as your goal is to have enough similarities to be liked in the group.

This is all before you even go into the wild to begin establishing your cover. Politically now is also the time that you establish your bona fides with the members within your agency, in my case since I look very much like my targeted group I had LOTS of contact with members of my agency that would be identified as minorities (this is good for when you come back so you aren’t labelled what you fighting)

With the background you needed, now what can YOU do. What are your skills? Do you do woodworking as a hobby? Can you weld? Decent mechanic? You might be death on two legs but you DON’T WANT to be identified as having that skillset or you career will be brief as it wont be long before you are asked to cross some pretty serious lines (curb stomping the smurf that shorted the ephedrine for example). Your real usable skillset (mine was I could fix just about anything and was a fair wrench on bikes or cars) is going to be the root of your cover.

Think on it, what you have read, what you can do, in what areas to you agree with the targets (because you WILL agree with something they believe, maybe they want to stop all the illegals ….. heck I believe that) and embrace it. This allows you to feel some form of legitimate bond with the target. Set your hard limits at the outset, both your agencies hard limits and your personal ones (get the agencies in writing and signed by the head, keep SEVERAL copies in trusted locations and with trusted people. TRUST ME ON THIS) You aren’t going in as a aryan, you are just a guy with a skillset and some commonality. They are going to make you an aryan if you play your cards right. That’s right, they are going to recruit YOU and they are going to do it by playing on the things you agree with (it’s a short step from stopping all the illegals, to stopping ALL the Mexicans )

Dress: Everyone that gets into narc work seems to want to show up with bolts, swazi buckle, iron cross ring, and a FU attitude. I have no idea why they believe it will be effective. Remember that most of these folks have lives outside the club or organization, most have jobs outside the organization and they have to fit in where they work too. Contrary to TV bikers don’t always sport colors and white supremists don’t always sport the swazi. And the position of most badass mother effer is already taken by someone in that organization. Contention doesnt lead to acceptance.

The first time I went to watering hole to start establishing myself I had a Cintas/Dickeys blue button up workshirt with some grit and grime at the elbows and cuffs and sew on nametag that said “Gary” (not my real name but close enough to answer to it spontaneously) jeans that were worn but a little dirty and in good repair and steel toe work boots that were scuffed and a little torn on one toe. (I should add the jeans and boots were MINE that I used when I legitimately worked on my bike and car, the shirt was sourced from goodwill and worn for a couple of times I worked on my bike and car. Whenever possible be real) I hadn’t shaved for about three days and I was a month overdue for a haircut (don’t overlook hair, if you have razor sharp lines it stands out, if this was the first time to shave your head, it stands out too, same with beards) I still had some grit and grease under my fingernails. I looked like a guy that finished work cleaned up a little and stopped by for a beer. The next time you are by a workmans bar, stop in. Youre probably going to stand out a little. But have a beer and people watch respectfully. If youre a white collar crime guy hit the trendy places, how many in the work clothes of the day, how many in trendy casual?

I went in and sat at the bar by myself was respectful of the place and moderately friendly. I had a couple of beers that I nursed and listened FAR more than I talked. When asked about the place I commented on how nice it was to find a place like this where a man can have a beer in among good people. I didn’t spout my 14 words, I didn’t drop “N” bombs. I was approachable, but not fearful.

Unlike the movies, you don’t get the girl in 15 minutes Mr. Bond, and you don’t get to fabricate an emergency to save them from. Those things stand out, and you DON’T want to stand out in the beginning of this relationship. You both need time to get comfortable.

Make no mistake, this is a seduction, and done correctly if you have a useable skillset, they are going to seduce you. You just have to strike the line between coy and willing in the beginning. Folks that are easy are likely narcs.
Remember when I discussed setting hard limits? These cover all the anticipated dangers within the experience. Can you do drugs undercover (in my experience you can on a life/death decision, but kiss you case goodbye so try to manipulate your cover so you dont) , can you assault or aid in the assault of another (depends on circumstances) , can you have sex with potential suspects to maintain cover, all of these areas are addressed and codified (remember those copies I told you to keep)
In my case, the seduction took a few months , bar time, house parties, and a few rides/events, working on bikes, troubleshooting a hot water heater and a couple of cars and I was “accepted” as a generally good dude to know and be friends with. I would alibi you to your wife or girlfriend, give you a ride, help you wrench, and act as a lookout if you were getting a BJ in the bars restroom. That kind of stuff, think of it as a wingman. The white power stuff came pretty easy, but I was never overt or a total convert I agreed with your viewpoint and generally kept my own council. I might comment on something like the Freddie gray case with “ Only a N can call another N racist cause they think he killed an N “ if it was being discussed on the TV.


The drugs came during house parties and rides, they were comfortable to do drugs around me, understood that I was in NA (if youre going to use it as a cover GO to NA meetings) and didn’t do them myself, but that I did supply them to my girlfriend to make the sex better, so I didn’t have a problem with them.


You couple that with my “fix it” capability and it wasn’t too long before I got to my first “Nazi” lab. Keep in mind, while a little paranoid we arent dealing with masterminds here. I ended up improving the safety of the lab and modifying some of the systems (quick aside, I was fortunate enough go to Quantico camp upshur with DEA and learn to cook, mitigate, segregate and separate Red P, Nazi, and meth cathinone labs among other tacticool things. It was great training). If I was going to be around a lab, I wanted it to be a safe as possible until it came time to hit the place. With that kind of trust built I was taking more involvement in the business side of things, I still “went to work” at a small mechanics shop (I guess Universal Exports wasn’t hiring, sorry Mr. Bond) , but I was spending more of my off time with key members of the group.


Everything you do needs to be in line with who you are as a cover, this is also why it needs to be as close to the real you as possible. Here is an example, we will go back to our smurf who shorted the E.
So we have the guy (a user) who was supposed to supply “X” amount of ephedra to us. A common trade is 10 for 1 as in 10 grams ephedra for 1 gram of meth (a good cook gets 85-95% conversion of ephedra to meth by weight). So we are expecting around 400 grams of E and the guy comes up short and needs to be reminded that this isn’t acceptable to us.

So we have to kick his ass to get the point across. This is where I tell them “Wanna see something cool?”
There are several ways to induce pain without injury, pressing hard on a closed finger, digging your fingernails into the septum are two good examples. I’ve used both to great effect and did in this case Now I know what youre thinking, I just assaulted a guy. Yep sure did, but what was the alternative? The other guys break his nose, maybe a couple of ribs instead, so it was a lesser harm protected him from greater harm AND I could send the little shit right back out to finish the order we had for E.

The guys were impressed and a little suspicious so how do I explain that I know this? Easy, “my old man was a navy brat that grew up in Okinawa and learned all that karate shit, then he was in the military when I was a kid. If was to show up at the ER every week they would have caught him and court marshalled his sorry ass, so when he wanted to get his point across with me he did that karate shit you just saw. No marks, no fuss, and he can still work “
How much truth was in that explanation? Dad was in Okinawa and did learn judo there as a kid, he was in the military when I was a kid. He did teach me those and other techniques, and yes he did kick my ass when it needed kicking and I thanked him for it as an adult.

Always use as much truth as you can to bolster your cover. You DON’T have to memorize the truth.

I didnt want to come across as a badass, just a guy that knows a few tricks from when his pop kicked his ass.




Denial and you, the gift of explanability

Now this isnt from the "Im not a cop" and the "I didnt do it" or even the "SODDI" defense (Some Other Dude Done It)

No this is about using human nature to fill your cover.

I said already that these are not Rhodes Scholars, and human nature prevails. You have already established your cover and have lived it a while, remember you are the great wingman. This is where human nature works in your favor. Humans will naturally rationalize what they see or hear into something innocuous if it is less work than other options. We see examples of this all the time, such as.

"yeah, I head the dog barking outside around 2am and figured it was a raccoon" when in actuality it was his car getting burglarized (because it was too much work to go outside)

"I can believe this is happening" for just about any event

" I thought it was fireworks, so I didnt call" For how many shootings in the past

"They may be doing a theatrical thing" At least she called, that being the librarian in Columbine High school

Human nature is to rationalize and this helps your cover

Here is an example, O'Malleys Theorem exists (O'Malley theorized that Murphy was an optimist) and will bite you at some point. So we ( a couple of badguys and I) are walking into the stop and rob to grab smokes and a twelve pack in an area outside my primary jurisdiction when a squad rolls past. Remember O'Malley? Well the guy behind the wheel knows me from a class we took together before I went under and gives me the nod............................................ OH SHIT!!!!! Now your initial reaction is that youre blown and things are going to go sideways.

STOP!!!!! THIS IS NOT THE TIME TO EXPLAIN . Take a friggin breath and continue as normal, and explain nothing yet. Let it process with your badguys for a bit (while your getting smokes and beer) . The bad guys are no different than the examples above, they are looking to rationalize from the point that they know youre one of them (Wingman remember) and they will start to formulate why this guy eyed you and gave you the nod. Now they are probably going to ask what it was about but usually after they have thought about it and are really asking for confirmation of the internal explanation they formulated.

So they did ask me what the fuck that was about, my explanation? "It took me a minute, but thats the fucking douchebag that tried to get me for my loud pipes the last two times I rode through, I glad he saw me cause Im sure as fuck going to be looking out for him"

What I said may not have been exactly what they were thinking, but it was an explanation that jived with what they internally rationalized. Disaster averted.

Give people time to formulate their own rationale (different from after the bang where we want to guide the narrative)

That said, if the cop had said "Hi Coastal!!!" it would have been near impossible to keep the cover short of getting taken into custody after calling the fucking pig out (and that likely wont work, but will get you out an away from the badguys while you assess your options).


I wasnt UC continuously for years on the same case and I didnt want to misrepresent that. I worked UC for years on several cases lasting from a few weeks to a few months, depending on the case.

Part 4. The nitty gritty

This part is tips and tricks about fitting in with the dregs.

In my whole time working UC I never got to be Sonny or Tubbs ( if not for the remake that would probably date me ;). I was always the white trash, doper, mechanic, biker, homeless type guy. Problem is that if I don’t work at it, I don’t look like that.

So here are the ways to make you appear worn in. I remember reading a Clancy novel when I was doing this stuff, the protagonist had to look homeless and slept on the floor with out showering for a week. I though the author had a pretty good tech guy feeding him info..... but he didn’t go deep enough. Here’s the rest to give you the true verisimilitude for a lower end part.

First , two days without a shower or deodorant and a reasonable workout ( burpees in private) with give you the correct aroma for the job. If you are a methhead add a spritzer of Colman fuel or Ether to your clothing ( not much, just a little). You wouldn’t believe the kinds of chem smell methheads that don’t even cook give off ( also crack heads to some extent) We will go into the other steps below.

Second , buy your goodwill clothes with long sleeves and oversized. You need to hide your physique if you are fit. Thankfully I was fit but at 150-175 lbs and 6’3” I was a little easier to hide the fitness, it was passed off to the lack of eating. ( I came out of boot camp at 145 at the same height, with almost no hair and sunken eyes, metabolism made me look like a POW) but you want to hide developed arms and chest. I don’t care if it’s 99 degrees outside, long sleeves are the key, you dont know if you will get more clothes before winter so you wear what you got.

Third, if you are going homeless make a travel roll, Old sleeping bag ( piss on it at least once). Some other heavier clothes if it’s summer, or another old blanket if it’s winter. Remember you are carrying everything you own with you unless you have staked a claim in a shanty town, overpass, or other place ( The topiary on the frontage road next to the on-ramp provides reasonable cover, security and point of view for a target without looking like you’re looking)

Fourth, sores and such. When you are not showering, rub some brake dust and Vaseline, axle grease, etc on your face ( nose, chin, forehead, at least one cheek) , forearms wrists and hands. Let it sit for a couple days. You are going to end up with clogged pores inside of 12 hours, zits in a day, Big Zits on most of the places by day two. No what is your “look”? If you’re a tweeter, scratch ALL of them nice and good and wait a few hours, now you have meth face, and hands Homeless, pop them and let them run a bit , even the bad guys won’t want to look at you.

Fifth. Teeth. All the prep in the world won’t do a bit of good if you have nice even clean white teeth . My uppers are straight through genetics, my lowers are a bit more crooked. So maybe you got braces in your youth, not to worry. Here is where coffee is your friend ( coffee is always your friend). Soft grounds , already used to make coffee, force them into the gaps in your teeth , upper and lower , front teeth to the start of the molars . This gives you a nice look of the start of rot at the roots ( good for both methmouth and homeless) and is easy to reapply as needed ( every stop and rob has a filter of fresh used grounds close by and nobody will notice the gaps if rot moves or is lost for a few hours). If you have ultra white teeth, swish cold coffee through your teeth for 30 seconds before applying the grounds. ( and make an appointment for a bleaching when the job is done).

So those are the basics of fitting in with friends in low places . All of these rules can be applied to fitting in anywhere, I was doing a detail for a state rep and congressman’s fundraiser recently at a beach town. I wore woven leather shoes , socks with palm trees on them, a gyabera shirt and linen slacks. I fit into the crowd, was friendly and the shirt let me conceal anything I might need. Detail went off without a hitch . Quick tip there, have the bartender pour you soda and lime, and keep it in your left hand (. Keeps your draw hand not only clear, but also warm and dry for handshakes , nobody likes cold fish hands.... works for business functions too)