The Cops Tried to Ambush Me—Again!

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Ken Estes’ Snow Candy

You may have read the story about the time the cops tried to ambush me.

Well, here’s another story where they tried to do it again.

Harvest time, the early ’90s in Illinois.

With the moon hanging dim over the swamp, night vision goggles strapped to my face, a horse farm to my left, and my buddy (who I’ll call Tom) two steps behind me, I slid through the thick trees towards the garden.

Now, the farm rested on the border of two counties—McHenry to the west, and Lake County to the east.

From the road my two spotters (who I’ll call V and H) scanned the area for potential threats.

Parked next to my pickup, about a quarter mile from the road where the field and horse farm met the swamp, my harvest crew waited in a moving truck for me to alert them over radio that everything was clear and it was safe for us to move in and pull the harvest.

I surveyed the foliage as Tom and I moved towards the garden, looking for anything out of place: boot prints, broken twigs, trampled-on weeds, anything.

greendarkFrom what seemed like out of nowhere, I heard the sound of approaching horses. Tom and I jumped belly-first into the weeds. The sound grew closer.

Suddenly, woman’s voice cried out with urgency and panic, “Emily!” Ten seconds later: “Emily!” Another five seconds after the that: “Emily, where are you, dear?…time to go inside, sweetie. Emily?” Fear oozed from her every word.

I clicked the radio and whispered, “Sit tight…Something’s not right. Change frequencies.”

Whenever things got hairy I had the team switch radio frequencies in case our current one was being monitored. We used six different frequencies and the crew knew in which order to rotate through ’em.

V’s voice shot through my earpiece like a bullet: “Two squad cars just pulled up. Looks like they’re holding sticks or something…Hold on…Oh shit, those aren’t sticks, they’re shotguns….They’re getting more out of their trunks…Now they’re walking to the field towards your vehicles.”

Screen Shot 2015-09-28 at 11.33.16 AM“You’ll need to get us out of here,” I said over the radio. “I’ll hit you back in a moment.”

A motorcycle tore down the road.

Tom and I bolted through the trees. The driver and passenger of the moving truck hopped out and flung open the rolling back door of the van. Two more of my men spilled out. The six of us scurried through the growth towards the road. Flashlights slid towards us over the the grass, weeds, and trees.

I radioed V and H. “V, meet us along the road about two hundred yards south of the farm where it curves to the left, right past the curve…out of view. H, stay close by.”

About two football fields behind, the flashlights and eager shotguns pulled near us. I could see the patrol cars parked in front of the farm.

We edged towards the road.

Asphalt, fifty yards away.

Twenty yards.

Ten.

Screen Shot 2015-09-28 at 11.42.21 AMV rolled by at a crawl.

“You just passed us,” I radioed. “Flip around. We’re in the trees by the speed limit sign right behind you.”

Silence, except for the pounding of my heart.

A minute later the sound of the van.

We plunged from the thicket into the van.

“Go,” I said, and V toted us off.

Turns out the McHenry County Sheriffs had found the garden and been staking it out. When the officer watching it saw us go in he called for backup and told the owner of the farm to get her children in the house (because serial killers…I mean the big bad pot growers, were lurking out there in the darkness).

Based on my map, I’d thought the garden sat in McHenry County, so that’s the scanner frequency I was monitoring. But the garden actually sat in Lake County, which I didn’t know.

If I’d been listening to the Lake County frequency I would have known the cops were coming.

Fortunately, the woman yelling for her daughter tipped us off to the bust.

The cops seized the pickup, along with encrypted radio and night vision goggles inside, the moving truck, and a hundred large pot plants ready for harvest. But we’d made it out of the swamp, free of handcuffs. And since the vehicles were under fake names, they couldn’t be traced back to us. We were in the clear.

Another day in the life of a guerrilla grower.

Screen Shot 2015-09-28 at 11.31.38 AMWhenever you’re going after your goals, you’re going to hit unexpected hurdles and obstacles—especially if you’re like me and willing to do whatever if takes to reach those goals. The key is be prepared.

Had I not had spotters—in essentially “getaway cars”—on the road, night vision goggles, walkie talkies, etc, or had the vehicles been in any of our names, we’d have surely been busted.

However, we were prepared, and, because of it, were able to flee to safety.

Now if you liked the story, you’re going to LOVE this one. It goes deep into how being prepared saved my ass from arrest another time and includes the five principles of attack I learned in my counter-terrorism classes and how these principles helped me and my crew escape.

Read it here.

Talk soon,
Big Mike

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