Without A Badge – Review
Publisher: Kensington Publishing Corp.
reviewed by: Lynard Barnes 5/2/2004
Summary: Recommended reading for picking up general information on the illicit drug trafficking business.
Skip the first three chapters of WITHOUT A BADGE and you get to the gist of this book.
Speziale and Seal seem bent on achieving two feats here: first, to show that drug cops are not your usual breed of cop. The feat is accomplished. The second objective seems to be rather mundane: the “suits” are against aggressive law enforcement and are determined to derail the path of any special agent or law enforcement officer who is inclined otherwise. This objective the authors don’t quit pull off. In sum, if you can read beyond the self-promotion aspects of the work, there is a really good primer on drug law enforcement operations.
Jerry Speziale spent fifteen years working on a New York City drug task force. A lot of that time was spent as a high-stakes narco-trafficker. His ordeal as an undercover law enforcement officer moving around in the world of Columbian drug traffickers highlights two aspects of the drug trade: firstly, drug trafficking is a business. Secondly, it is a business in which the various levels of law enforcement are temperamentally ill-equipped to oversee, regulate, control or eradicate. This leaves only the heroics of individual sentinels like Jerry Speziale, Michael Levine, Robert Stutman, (see TGBRJ, “The Big White Lie” reviewed in June 1993) and others. The “suits” or management being riled against never come across as solid, living flesh obstacles. But real life, like fiction, must always have a protagonist. The more protagonists the better. If one of the protagonists is a vaporous though restraining “wizard of oz”, the better. This is what the “suits” are to tales of the “war” on drugs.
But WITHOUT A BADGE is a cut above most works in this genre because it does reveal the business side of the drug trafficking trade. In the Epilogue, Speziale pointedly brings the point home. He recounts an offer made to him by one of the drug trafficking organizations out of Columbia after his stint with the New York task force was over. It was a business offer. Nothing distinctly illegal. They wanted him to provide background information detailing how a load of illicit drugs were seized. They wanted, like all good businesses, to learn from there mistakes. Naturally Speziale declined to be a strategic research hog for a drug cartel. But it shows how businesslike the real drug-threat barons are to civilization.
WITHOUT A BADGE is recommended reading.