I realize “so many people” is a subjective term seeing as these are fairly news worthy occurrences, so will be reported much more often than cases where someone ends up hiring an actual hit man, but nevertheless it seems to happen alot.
Why is this ? Do undercover cops just spend their days hanging around in bars waiting for someone to offer them money to kill someone ? That doesn’t seem like an awfully good use of police resources to me.
My guess would be that people who want to hire a hit man don’t know how to go about it, and usually ask people they consider to be on the outside of the law for help. People on the outside of the law are the people who have the most to gain by doing a favor for the cops. If the bartender who gets busted for after hours liquor sales or the small time dealer who got caught can drop a dime and skate, they’re going to do it.
The article doesn’t specify where the initial contact took place. I would suspect a few cops trolling Soldier-of-Fortune style boards would be sufficient to catch not very careful people looking to off their loved ones. I can also see why they would avoid going into detail as to how the sting would go down.
This is a running joke between tygre and I: it seems like every other true-crime show we watch shows someone getting tripped up by the undercover cop hitman.
One of our theories is that there are just aren’t that many hitmen around who can either be trusted or found by an outsider. Even if you do “know somebody who knows somebody”, the best you’re going to find is what Elmore Leonard called a “zip”: some knucklehead who gets brought to town, has a gun shoved into his hands, and is told to shoot somebody. If the mob wants somebody dead, they’re going to use somebody they know, and they’re not going to let some schmuck who wants their husband/wife/business partner dead use him.
The other thing we’ve sort of learned (her from her CRJ study, me from watching countless episodes of Unsolved Mysteries) is that, boy, most hitmen are as dumb as rocks. There was the hitman in this case in Atlanta who killed a guy for $100, then went around bragging about it trying to drum up more business. Yeah, dumb. And if they’re not dumb, they’re insane. Richard Kuklinski, who’s about the only real hitman who ever did half the things he said he did, was a psychopath who probably would have paid people to do hits for them.
So, if you actually did get a hitman who has half a brain and doesn’t ask you if it’s OK if he kills your intended victim with a rusty spoon “so he can see all that blood”, sure, you’ll jump at hiring him. And 99.9% of the time, he’s going to be an undercover cop.
First, forget any glamorous portrayals you may have seen of “hit men” in the movies. Max Von Sydow in “Three Days of the Condor”? That guy doesn’t exist. Christopher Lee in “Man With the Golden Gun”? Sorry, he doesn’t exist either. There AREN’T any worldly, sophisticated, intellectual assassins who charge a million dollars a kill, collect art, and live on the Riviera between jobs.
Second… I’ve never wanted to kill anyone in my life, but suppose I wanted to have my wife killed. Where would I find an assassin??? I have no idea. I don’t have any shady connections. I don’t have any contacts in the criminal underground. When it comes to crime, I’m a rank amateur. I wouldn’t know where to find a reliable hit man if I wanted one!
Where would I look? I might thumb through the classifieds of “Soldier of Fortune” magazine, and contact a shady sounding advertiser… but ads like that could easily be sting operations planted by the cops. I might hang out in seedy bars and hope I bumped into a gun for hire… but if I really started asking around about hiring a killer, SOMEONE who heard would be bound to rat me out.
Perhaps I’m deluding myself, but I like to think I’m a tad smarter than the average person who gets busted on true-crime TV shows, and I’d STILL probably get caught if I tried to hire a hit man, because I just wouldn’t know what I was doing! And a truly competent crook wouldn’t want to get involved with a loser like me in the first place(I couldn’t pay him enough to make it worth his while)! In the end, most likely I’d either hire some dumb junkie who was desperate enough for money to resort to murder, or I’d screw up and end up hiring an undercover cop.
Others have touched on it, but what happens is that the undercover cop ends up coming to them.
They want someone dead, and they are a regular schmoe. They don’t know any hit man so they start asking. One or many of the people that they ask decided that they want no part of this and calls the cops. The cops then send an undercover out posing as a hit man.
I don’t think the solicitors just bump into these undercover cops by accident
Every undercover “hitman” sting I know of offhand has involved the offender asking around to find a hitman, and the askee getting in touch with law enforcement either for personal gain or a out of a sense of civic duty. If you have some pending legal troubles of your own, helping bust a murder for hire scheme is much better than your typical rolling over on a dealer situation.
Because the only ones you hear about are the ones where some moron mistakenly hired a cop. Just think about the thousands of successful hits being carried off daily by reputable hitmen that you don’t hear about.
There was a case in Florida where a woman was killed by a guy hired by her ex husband in Texas. The hitman was just a golfing buddy, he did it for money. He was very easy to track, he left a big paper trail in Florida.
Yeah, the probably is too many people look in the Yellow Pages under “Assassination” when they should really look under “Troubleshooting, Executive, Extreme Prejudice”.
Seriously, as astorian said, the profession of expert freelance assassin is as much an artifact of Hollywood screenwriters as the Hooker With A Heart Of Gold, the Cop With Five Days To Retirement, and the Jet Setting Interpol Terrorist Hunter. There are honest-to-god expert snipers who are trained to kill people at long range or despite high security, but most of them work for established professional special forces military or paramilitary-type organizations, such as the CIA’s Special Activities Division or the Army’s 1SOFD-D. High priced freelance hitmen would be short of paying work, even in today’s post-Cold War lassiez-faire world economy, nor would they likely have the logistical support to conduct assassinations around the world without getting caught. Most “hitmen” are pretty stupid people trying to make a quick buck at something that has grave consequences if they screw up or get caught. Clearly, they’re not doing the cost vs. benefit analysis.
The mafia in some cases will hire someone outside their ranks to kill someone. But they will hire a known criminal who they have dealt with before. Most of the time they just whack the guy with their own killer.
I think you nailed the subject very well, and from what I have read, in cases like your hypothetical, if you are going to go for it, BE SURE TO KILL THE JUNKIE YOURSELF after he completes the hit that you hired him for, assuming that you have no ties to him that could be exposed after both murders are complete.
And the mafia doesn’t really have “hitmen” either. What they have are guys who are willing to kill whoever their boss wants dead. When Tony Soprano wants someone dead, he doesn’t call up a freelance hitman and offer him a suitcase full of cash, he calls up Christopher and Paulie Walnuts and says, “I need you to take care of that thing we talked about that one time when we were at that place.”
You might want to look into the Robert Blake case. IIRC he was acquitted of murder when a guy said that Blake tried to hire him to kill Blake’s wife, implying that he got someone else to do it. All in all, it seemed a pretty stupid plan.