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RATS! SNITCHING FOR TH SLEAZIEST COPS IN THE STATE ISN'T GOING TO LOOK GOOD ON YOUR RESUME!

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The two stayed in the house for a couple of weeks before their landlord evicted them for not paying the rent. Broke, with no jobs, they walked to their storage facility, where they slept the next couple of nights. When they got kicked out of there, Milton says, they slept in a tent in the desert. "It was kind of a drag to have to go out--I'm not a thief--and steal dinner," he says.

They were having little success in getting their car back, and by late February, the police offer was beginning to look attractive. So they went back to Imboden, the Nevada investigator who had approached them in jail about becoming informants.

Milton remembers his words: "He said, 'I'm going to introduce you to the guys that raided your house.'" While the Sheriff's Office refused to allow Sergeant Terry Flanagan to talk, the twins claim that the commander of the MAGNET unit in the Bullhead City area made lofty promises of potential income if they became snitches. On February 22, 1991, Sheryl and Milton signed up. @rule:

@body:From the beginning, neither liked informing. It was clear from their first "snitch" that they would have to live a lie, even betray people who befriended them. That first snitch involved the neighbor suspected of dealing marijuana. Milton agreed to find out where the neighbor kept his stash. He went to the neighbor's house, saw where it was and told MAGNET.

"We hated doing it," Sheryl says now. "The guy was nice. He let us stay over at his house." Their careers had begun. In March 1991, they got the $10,000 check back, but not the car. They used the money, among other things, to buy a pickup truck. Over the next few months, the twins would meet with MAGNET regularly, which put them up in a "sleazebag" motel in Needles, California. They began to look for drug dealers. They began to learn the ways of informants. "You go to bars. You talk to people. You talk drugs," Milton says. "You go out with them [dealers]. You hang out with them. And then you stab them in the back."
He is so confident of his abilities, he says if you gave him an hour in any bar, he could find pot. One undercover cop says Milton actually taught him how to simulate drug use. Although the twins both found "real" jobs, they got involved in their first real bust over the summer. It was hardly a scene from Miami Vice. Milton set up a deal to purchase a half-ounce of speed in Laughlin. The cops--including the DEA, MAGNET and NDI--rented a hotel room in the Riverside. The cops did their best to look like tourists, dressed in shorts and Hawaiian shirts, wearing fanny packs to hold their guns. But they had the wrong hotel. The dealer was actually staying at the Edgewater. "This isn't what it's supposed to be like," Milton recalls thinking at the time. He finally did the buy from a guy and two pimple-faced speed addicts--although he says he had to snort a line of speed to make it seem convincing. He gave the stuff to the police. The cops gave him $50. The promises of big bucks and help in regaining the car weren't materializing. Milton claims that the line of speed he did during the buy caused him to fail a drug test where he was working, and he was fired. But they stayed in. Then MAGNET approached Sheryl with a big idea.

It would involve getting naked and going deeply undercover.
@rule:
@body:The Mohave Area General Narcotics Enforcement Team--a task force of police agencies around Mohave County in northwest Arizona--will celebrate its fifth birthday in April. The task force has been in on several big drug busts along the Colorado River, including the shutdown in 1990 of what it claimed was the largest indoor marijuana-growing operation ever discovered in the United States.

The Colorado River area is clearly ripe for drug busts. Task-force commander Lieutenant C.E. "Jeep" Doherty says his force has made 1,500 drug arrests since MAGNET was formed. Last year alone, he says, officers seized $35 million worth of drugs and $1.7 million in property and cash. MAGNET's activity mirrors the expansive growth of the tristate area around the Colorado River. Bullhead City's population alone increased from 10,000 in 1980 to 27,000 in 1992. But it is the gambling in nearby Laughlin that sets the pace. "It's the casinos, the alcohol, the transient nature of the population," says Mohave County Attorney Bill Ekstrom, who says his office is the third busiest in the state. "People come here to have a good time, get crazy. . . . There is a big market for drugs."

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Dave Newbart