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Northeastern University Press
Hot Shots and Heavy Hits: Tales of an Undercover Drug Agent / Edition 1

Hot Shots and Heavy Hits: Tales of an Undercover Drug Agent / Edition 1

by Paul Doyle
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The mean streets of Boston in the 1970s played host to a nefarious underworld of pimps, pushers, and addicts, and Paul "Sully" Doyle was there. From Kenmore Square hippies to South Boston junkies to Combat Zone prostitutes, this undercover operative with the federal Drug Enforcement Administration met every type of unsavory character in town in his fight to bust violent rings of dope, coke, and smack dealers during a turbulent era in the city's history. Now Special Agent Doyle bluntly chronicles the riveting, true stories from his years on the inside. Known on the street by his alias, "Paulie Sullivan," he recalls his rookie days, trying to infiltrate the criminal drug world under the tutelage of his veteran partner, through his coming of age as an experienced narc-sharing his keen observations on ruined lives, personal peril, and government red tape along the way. A former prizefighter not at all shy about punching his way out of trouble, the author divulges a candid, worm's-eye-view of the drug war with all its blemishes and glories. With abiding humanity and graphic detail, the memoir richly describes exploits with junkie stool pigeons and hooker informants, college burnouts and Chinatown mobsters, ghetto pimps and violent thugs, bureaucratic obstacles and uncooperative foreign governments, successful busts and brushes with death. Marijuana, cocaine, heroin, amphetamines, LSD-no illegal substance failed to tempt those seeking the ultimate high, resulting in the long nights, sudden danger, and uncertain outcomes that faced Sully and his partners. Combining gripping action with perceptive commentary, this unvarnished snapshot of one agent's experiences undercover adeptly captures the violence, futility, and endless frustration of the war on drugs. As engrossing as a fiction thriller, Hot Shots and Heavy Hits provides a rare glimpse into a harsh world unknown to most of us.

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9781555536497
Publisher: Northeastern University Press
Publication date: 07/01/2005
Edition description: New Edition
Pages: 240
Product dimensions: 6.00(w) x 9.00(h) x 0.70(d)

About the Author

PAUL E. DOYLE served as Special Agent in the Bureau of Narcotics and Dangerous Drugs and the Drug Enforcement Administration. He currently is Chairman of the New England chapter of the Association of Former Federal Narcotic Agents. He lives in the Boston area. PETER KIRBY MANNING is the Elmer V. H. and Eileen M. Brooks Professor of Criminal Justice at Northeastern University, and the author of Narcs’ Game and Policing Contingencies. The author and this book are featured in the recently released documentary film, Floaters.

Read an Excerpt

Hot Shots and Heavy Hits



Copyright © 2004 Paul E. Doyle
All right reserved.

ISBN: 1-55553-603-4

Chapter One


The first three days that I spent at the John F. Kennedy Federal Office Building in downtown Boston were three of the longest days in my recent memory. I was fresh out of the agents academy of the Bureau of Narcotics and Dangerous Drugs. My group supervisor, Todd Downs, called me into his office a couple of minutes after eight o'clock on Monday morning, my first day.

I checked the knot on my tie to make sure that it was perfectly straight, then followed my fingers down to make certain that my shirt buttons lined up perfectly with my belt buckle, military style, as I hurried toward Downs's office. My white shirt was starched, my shoes were shined, and nay pistol was holstered snugly on my hip. With eager anticipation, I stood in the doorway of the boss's office cubicle, ready for action.

"We got a big day ahead of us," Downs said from behind his desk. I looked at him earnestly.

Action scenes came to mind. I pictured myself crashing through a door, as I had been practicing at agent school, arresting a suspect at gunpoint, and putting the cuffs on him. That tingly feeling started in my stomach.

"There's a lot to do," Downs continued in a confidential tone, almost solemnly, with a pained expression on his face. Imagining the serious, difficult assignment he was about to give me, I nodded my head to assure him that I was ready to spring into action. Then, Downs squinted his eyes, as he fixed his stare at me and stood up. He was a big man physically and he seemed to fill the room with his bulk, his head almost touching the ceiling of his office.

"Let's go!" Downs ordered. He walked around the desk and ducked his head to get through the door as he marched out of the cubicle. I stepped aside to make way for him. When he passed by, I fell in behind him like a soldier. Downs stopped abruptly, maybe six feet from his office door. I would have walked into him if I had not reacted quickly and stopped. Downs turned, and almost like an afterthought, he motioned toward the secretary with his big hairy hand, which was almost in my face. He began to speak.

"We gotta purge the files," Downs announced. I stood obediently, listening politely to Downs's instructions to the secretary. I tried to appear as if I was interested, while he went on much longer than necessary about secretarial matters. Feeling self-conscious, I looked down at my shoes, then glanced at the secretary and smiled. The secretary was struggling to be patient with Downs's endless instructions while her eyes moved from Downs's to mine. Her eyes landed on me just as I was smiling at her feigned look of interest and she smiled slightly, rolling her eyes to convey her frustration. I could sense the eyes of the other agents in the group on my back, watching me standing helplessly next to Downs. Finally, the tone of Downs's voice signaled that he was coming to the end of his talk, so I straightened up and looked at him. He lifted his eyes from the manila file folder at which he had been staring during his entire talk, and he turned to me and said with an inappropriate smile:

"Mary's on vacation for the week, but I know that you and Jen can get the job done. Go get 'em."

My heart sank at the realization that he had been talking to me all along and that I was being relegated to a clerical assignment. I could feel my face drop as I looked at Downs in disbelief. I stood still momentarily in the wake of his departure, stunned at the put-down, and half listening to the sound of his shoes klunking down the hallway. I looked up at Jen and she returned a sympathetic look.

Feeling totally foolish with a Smith and Wesson strapped to my side as I combed through the file cabinets looking for outdated files, I decided to remove my pistol and lock it in my desk. It was not until the end of the day that Downs, after walking by Jen and me all day long, stopped and gave me an incredulous stare. Tucking his chin in, so that the skin bulged out over his shirt collar, he looked at me with a smirk and asked, "Where is your gun?"

Tired, humiliated, and fed up from looking at files, I almost lost it. I was ready to tell him to stick the gun and the job up his nose, but my military training kicked in and I did not.

"It's locked in my desk, sir," I answered. In my mind, I substituted the word "asshole," which I never used, for "sir."

"In your desk?" Downs repeated my answer in question form. I mentally underlined the word "asshole."

"Yes, sir, in my desk," I repeated.

"Agent's Manual, section so and so, page so and so," Downs shot back argumentatively. I then capitalized the word, with a big A. He continued, reciting from the manual, "an agent shall have his weapon in his possession at all times."

I did not reply.

"Do you understand?" Downs asked loudly, so as to capture the attention of every agent and secretary within earshot.

"Yes, sir," I managed. I went to my desk reluctantly and donned my weapon. Downs walked into his office shaking his head at what he thought was my disregard for the regulations. I boiled at his lack of discretion and rigid interpretation of the rules. Downs had the Agent's Manual memorized, but he had no common sense. My second and third days, also spent rummaging through the files, were no better.

When Pam asked about the job at dinner, I wriggled around in my seat, not knowing how to answer. Finally, I decided to tell her that I did not think the job was for me, and that I was considering leaving. There was no sense in being dishonest with myself or my wife. Pam was thrilled, especially when I agreed with her idea that I should attend law school. My mind was made up, and the following day I stood next to Jen, fingering through the files, waiting for the appropriate time to broach the subject with Downs.

Suddenly, the atmosphere changed. There was laughter in the hallway, and I could hear Chris Regan's voice. He was returning from New York City, where he had been testifying in a federal court.

"So, there I am in Foley Square," Chris begins, setting the stage for his tale. I could hear laughter.

"Fifteen years on count one! Fifteen years on count two, on and after count one! And, fifteen years on count three, to be served after count two," Chris raised his voice to mimic the voice of the sentencing judge. The laughter increased.

"Sweet Steve says to the judge, 'I don't understand!' The judge says, 'What part of the forty-five years do you not understand?' Sweet Steve looks at the judge like he is going to cry. 'Don't worry, Mr. Jones, you'll have plenty of time to figure it out,'" Chris added gravely, in the tone of the judge.

The agents walking with Chris laughed all the harder at his description of the events surrounding his testimony in New York City. I forgot my plight momentarily as I listened to Chris and his merry men blow into the office like a gust of fresh air. His eyes met mine as soon as he turned the corner into the office, and a wide smile spread across his face.

"Look at this!" Chris called out happily. The agents with him all looked at me.

"Ready to kick some ass?" Chris added. I had to smile, myself, at the invitation. Chris reached out and took my hand.

"Congratulations!" Chris spoke excitedly. I smiled back from my awkward position behind the secretary's desk. Chris gave me a puzzled look, then asked, "What are you doing?"

I felt foolish and did not know what to say. Sensing my predicament, Jen answered for me.

"Todd assigned Paul to work with me in place of Mary." She shot an apologetic look of exasperation at Chris. He bit his bottom lip and shook his head, then looked directly at me and spoke.

"Come on, kid, we got work to do."

The invitation sparked a sense of rebellion deep down inside of me. I hesitated, remembering my clerical assignment. Chris laughed knowingly and beckoned me with a wave of his hand.

"Come on, let's go. Duty calls. I need my partner with me on the street," Chris added convincingly, and I willingly walked away from my secretarial duties.

"Get into some street clothes and we're outta here," Chris ordered, and I joined him, gladly. Chris was full of enthusiasm, and his passion for working drug cases on the street was infectious. He shot a devilish look at the secretary as we were leaving the office area and said with a smile, "Jennifer, dear, when Todd comes in, tell him that Paulie and I are on the street. He may have a difficult time understanding that concept. We're gonna purge the city of drugs."

Chris laughed good-naturedly and everyone in the group laughed with him. The next thing I knew, I was out on the street and my world was about to change forever.

My partnership with Chris was a new beginning. I stole a glance at Chris as the door went up and we emerged from the underground garage and pulled onto the street. With his gangster lean behind the wheel of the late model Caddy and his Prince Valiant hairstyle blowing in the breeze, Chris looked like a cocky young criminal. He was wise guy personified.

"I gotta see a stool pigeon," Chris said, matter-of-factly. I nodded.

"What did you think of the academy?" he asked casually.

"It was good. They taught us well," I answered stiffly. I could feel Chris shooting a sly glance at me. I turned and met his eye. He smiled from ear to ear.

"It's a bunch a shit, ain't it?" Chris laughed. I laughed, too.

"They can try all they want, but they can't teach you shit!"

"Well, they gave us the law and the basics," I reasoned. Chris laughed again playfully.

"Our classroom's the street," he countered. Chris continued to drive until we got to the vicinity of Boston University, where he pulled over and parked in a space at the curb. Moments later, a tall, slender young lady wearing snakeskin cowboy boots, skintight brown corduroys, and an expensive-looking brown leather jacket came into sight. From under a Boston Red Sox cap, which she wore jauntily tipped slightly to one side, her long black hair flowed down her shoulders. As she came closer, I realized that she was smiling at us.

"Let her in," Chris said, catching me by surprise. I hesitated. "Let her in front between us," he added. I opened the door and got out so that she could get in.

"Hi," she said, as she brushed by me and slipped into the front seat next to Chris. Her freshly showered scent and the smell of leather and crisp, cold air filled the car as I got back in the car next to her.

Chris introduced us perfunctorily: "Serenity, this is my partner, Paulie. Paulie, this is Serenity." She smiled politely, and then they began talking together like old friends. I listened to the conversation as I sat quietly looking out the window at the people passing. It was a busy area, with hordes of students traveling back and forth from their apartments to classes. Chris and Serenity talked for almost an hour. Judging by the friendly tone of the conversation and the laughter, I would have thought that it was a date, if I didn't know better. When they were finished, Serenity gave Chris a peck on the cheek. She turned to me with a sexy smile and said, "Nice to meet you, Paulie."

"Me, too," I answered as I opened the door and stood on the sidewalk to let her out. My eyes followed momentarily, while she walked away with a swing and a bounce in her step, then I slid back into the front seat.

"Informant?" I asked, skeptically.

"The best!" Chris said. Ignoring my blank look, he continued, "She just gave us the source for all of the weed in Boston." With no further explanation, Chris smiled and winked. "Since we are parked in front of the world-famous Dugout bar, it would be sacrilegious not to make a visit. Don't you think?" I glanced out the window at the Dugout sign then back at Chris.

"I'm with you."

We got out of the car and walked toward the Dugout. Chris went in first, and I followed behind. He walked in with flair, like a gunfighter busting through the saloon's swinging doors. The Dugout was an old-fashioned bar, an anachronism. The smell of cigarette smoke and stale beer pervaded the atmosphere. The classic, old labels of the basic beers, Schlitz, Miller, and Bud, appeared on the tap handles that stuck up from the stainless-steel base in the middle of the bar. The fanciest drinks in the Dugout were a seven and seven and a gin and tonic.

The Dugout was an unusual college bar. In the daytime, old-timers, men in their seventies, took their medicine next to a steady stream of blue-collar guys-maintenance and janitorial workers from Boston University-along with an occasional college professor, a coach, off-duty cops, firemen, and people who lived in the neighborhood. At night, the students replaced the older working crowd. College guys with their hats on backwards and coeds in sweatshirts and jeans cheered for the Sox, the Bruins, or the Pats, if the BU Terriers weren't playing.

The thing that made the Dugout so special was the legendary owner, Jimmy O'Keefe, a true friend of governors, gangsters, and the common man for over a half century. Jimmy O'Keefe, wispy gray hair, wrinkled pale skin, sat sideways on a stool in the middle of the bar with his beloved old mutt, Blondie, at his feet. He grinned when he saw us. Chris shook his hand first, then introduced me as his new partner. A twinkle appeared in Jimmy's watery, red-lined eyes when he saw me.

"How ya doin' kid?" Jimmy asked, warmly. Chris was surprised that he knew me.

"You've already met?" he asked.

"Chrissake, I knew him as a baby," Jimmy said. He didn't volunteer that my father ran numbers for him in the old days. Those things were better left unsaid in mixed company. Jimmy and I both knew that. I stooped down to pat his dog and when I stood up, I noticed that Jimmy was still staring admiringly at me.

"You was quite a fighta kid. Your dad, too. Them were the days," old Jimmy remarked, nostalgically. I smiled self-consciously.

Chris and I sat at the bar on either side of Jimmy. I had a hamburger and a glass of orange juice, and Chris had a bag of chips and a bottle of Schlitz. While we were eating, a couple of off-duty firefighters walked in. They both had waist-length letterman's jackets on over their fireman's jeans and blue denim shirts.

"Hey, Jimmy, we got some team this year!" one of them said to Jimmy O'Keefe enthusiastically. Jimmy nodded. "Tommy, this is Paul," Jimmy said.

"Nice ta know ya," Tommy replied. It turned out that Tommy O'Leary-they called him Bomber-lived in my new neighborhood. He recognized Chris because he had stopped in the firehouse on a number of occasions and borrowed battering rams and halligan tools to knock doors down. I had been filing records that morning, now I was relaxing with some great guys in a neighborhood bar.


Excerpted from Hot Shots and Heavy Hits by PAUL E. DOYLE Copyright © 2004 by Paul E. Doyle. Excerpted by permission.
All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
Excerpts are provided by Dial-A-Book Inc. solely for the personal use of visitors to this web site.

Table of Contents

Foreword - Peter Kirby Manning
Narcotic Agent
Bad Acid
A Light In The Darkness

What People are Saying About This

Frank McCourt

“What makes Paul Doyle’s book different from other police memoirs is that it is suffused with compassion. The writing is hard and direct except where leavened with good humor and deep feeling for the unfortunate of the world. This is a book that should be handed to everyone everywhere in law enforcement or to anyone who wants to understand how men and women in the profession can keep their heads above the dark waters of crime, addiction, corruption. Paul Doyle did—and he did it with style and a great and generous heart.”

Joseph D. Pistone

“Hot Shots and Heavy Hits is a must read. Paul Doyle depicts perfectly what ‘living the life’ is all about . . . Doyle’s dramatic account of his experiences in the drug world is a sure hit. It is serious business.”

From the Publisher

"What makes Paul Doyle's book different from other police memoirs is that it is suffused with compassion. The writing is hard and direct except where leavened with good humor and deep feeling for the unfortunate of the world. This is a book that should be handed to everyone everywhere in law enforcement or to anyone who wants to understand how men and women in the profession can keep their heads above the dark waters of crime, addiction, corruption. Paul Doyle did—and he did it with style and a great and generous heart."—Frank McCourt, author of Angela's Ashes and 'Tis

"Hot Shots and Heavy Hits is a must read. Paul Doyle depicts perfectly what 'living the life' is all about . . . Doyle's dramatic account of his experiences in the drug world is a sure hit. It is serious business."—Joseph D. Pistone, author of Donnie Brasco: My Undercover Life in the Mafia

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