This show is about F.B.I. Black Bag operations and the men who do this. Without the skill of the “bag men” the important microphones would not have installed and the Mob control over the Tropicana and Stardust Casinos would never have been uncovered.
In this episode, I tell about an FBI agent that went bad, Ed Tickel. In the 1970s, this agent made many surreptitious entries inside and outside the country. He was what is known as an expert in NDE (non destructive entry). He was a legend within the Bureau. One time, the story goes, he was sent to Tehran, Iran to break into our embassy to retrieve some hidden documents after the hostages were released. He was an expert lock picker. For some locations, the Bureau wanted to have their own key, in that case, the lock expert used a technique called lock impressioning. The first method of impressioning occurs by stealing the key and using a soft substance like clay or wax to make an impression of the key. A duplicate can be made from the impression. The other more difficult is known as “manipulation based impressioning” a key. Ed Tickel was an expert in this technique. The target lock manufacturer is identified and a blank key that fits that lock is purchased. The hard metal blank is then copied onto a softer metal. The bag man needs some time in front of the lock. He inserts the specially made blank and manipulates it to get an impression of the pin location and depth. The blank is withdrawn with almost unseen impressions of the lock pin locations. The locksmith uses an ultraviolet light or maybe a microscope to identify the pin locations. He then files away the pin areas creating a duplicate key. Ed Tickel once hid inside a large refrigerator box placed in front of the door in a highly traveled area to impression a key. He used this refrigerator box again to protect himself from a guard dog while he made a key impression of the front door lock of a mob guy’s business.
In Kansas City we had three well known microphones installed. One was inside the Villa Capri tavern, the second was inside the law office of John Patrick Quinn and the third was inside the house of Josephine Marlo. The first two, being a business were relatively easy. Just watch the owners at home, in case they have a sudden notion to go back to the business. The third was at a private home located in a neighborhood populated by KC Mob boss Nick Civella and his friends and relatives. Our friend and sometimes guest, retired agent, Bill Ousely called this putting a microphone inside the Lion’s Den. Tickel and local the back bag expert conferred and came up with a plan. They created a telephone problem. They responded disguised as telephone repairmen to survey the residence and place a microphone inside the telephone. They realized the telephone mike was not placed close enough to any meetings. Listen for the rest of the story.
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