Saturday, May 23, 2009

A Day in the Life of a Bail Bondsman

-->The day is Thursday May 7th, a beautiful sunny day in Southern California. My name is agent but you can call me bail bondsman.

I am a bail agent with All American Bail Bonds a bail bonding company based in the Los Angeles county and operating in the Southern California area; It is my job to see that our bail clients make it to their sentencing and if they don’t, than to see how we can get them back to court or back into handcuffs.
Now, the day started out normal, but something inside my gut just told me that it was going to turn into “just one of those days’. I was on my way to the courthouse in Murrieta, south Riverside County; for the sentencing of one of our clients who was out on $250,000 bail, not a tremendously large dollar amount, but large enough to put me on the job. I got into court around 8:30am and checked in with the bailiff, he notified me that my client had not checked in as of yet so I had seat and waited. At 9:00 still no client I notified my office and requested backup A.S.A.P., they sent me another agent, will call him agent 2. The agent got to the courthouse around 10:00 and still no client. At this time I notified the head office who put our head investigator on high alert; you see its not totally out of the ordinary for a client to be late to their sentencing, many get cold feet or just too hung over from the night before, but if the alert is on we want to get to him before it’s too late. At around 11:00 I got the call, we got a rabbit, and it was time to be more proactive, so agent 2 and I went down stairs to the clerk’s office for a certified copy of the bond and got ready for the chase. It was just before noon and I got a call from the head investigator who notified me that an anonymous source contacted the head office and notified them that the defendant was running to Mexico for a 2:45 flight. Now of course we can’t operate in Mexico, but if we get the heads up that a U.S. citizen is fleeing from justice to Mexico there are things we can do.
The chase is on, agent 2 and I rushed to the local Riverside office to remove any and all weapons from the car. You see normally here in California while conducting fugitive recovery we carry firearms, but in Mexico firearms are illegal and a single bullet can cost you a year in Mexican Jail. We got started on the hour trip to the Mexican border, so far so good. When we go south to the Tijuana airport we go through the smaller entrance just east of the main entrance, being that it is closer to the airport just makes it that much quicker. As we approach the entrance to Tijuana the time is 1:30pm and agent 2 and I are feeling confident that we will make it in time. Everything seems to be going as planned our head office has notified our Tijuana contacts and we have plenty of time before the flight. Here we are next in line, now pulling up to American Border Patrol who are checking vehicles that are leaving the US.
The Plot thickens; As I get to the officer at the border who asks the question, “Anything to Declare”!? I respond no sir, he says where are you guys off to today?, I respond the airport, he says okay just need to check your vehicle please, pull to the right and hang tight. “NO PROBLEM OFFICER”, I say! Now we are waiting in the car, officer walks up to my window and ask us both to get out of the car and go to the front of the vehicle, because they need to conduct a standard inspection. Four officers flock to my truck looking in the trunk , under the car, under the seats, pretty much everywhere you would expect, oh and of course the glove box!!! Let me tell you about the vehicle that I am driving it’s a newer model Chevy Tahoe very standard and shared by a few agents, nothing out of the ordinary.
Now back to the inspection; the officer gets to the glove box and it’s locked, of course to my surprise. I give the officer the key and step back to the front of the car. As she opens the glove box the look on her face changes from just whatever to WHATS THIS. You know that look on a cops face when they just found the bloody knife to a murder scene with the fingerprints all over it. Well she didn’t find a knife, instead she found a box of hollow point rounds, caliber 45, with a fully loaded magazine. To her that was the mother load. The S**T hits the fan. The time is now 2:00pm, we are quickly running out of time and it looks like we’re going to be late! Immediately they take my partner into custody no cuffs but he’s not free to go. They have me pull my vehicle into the Inspection area where they call it the vehicle molestation area and at this point I just need a cigarette.
Having those shells and loaded magazine is not illegal in the States, but extremely illegal in Mexico in fact it’s one year per bullet, in my case that would be 32 years in a Mexican jail. Their main concern on our side at the border is not those bullets in my car but what those bullets are for, the gun. I explain to the officers who I am and what I am doing crossing the border. I further explain to them that I share the vehicle with other agents and was unaware that he had left anything in the vehicle. We go back and forth like this for about 30 minutes and I think they are finally buying what I am selling. They seem to be easing up. Okay we missed it, it’s 3:00pm and we're still waiting as the officers go through every nook and cranny of the vehicle, they find nothing. At about 3:30pm the Supervisor in charge comes to me and says everything looks good just one more thing they need to do before we can go, is give us a hefty fine. At this point now it doesn’t even matter, we missed the flight. The officers allow us to grab our cell phones from the car so we can get in contact with our office and report the situation, I do so. It’s around 4:00pm and the officer with the final say so comes to the vehicle to give us his okay. He’s about 85 pounds and has four legs with a nose for weapons and cash. That’s right it’s a dog. The entire time I come to find out they were waiting for the dog that sniffs out money and firearms, they walk him through the vehicle and of course they find nothing. Well after all that the supervisor comes back out and says were free to go, no fine not reprimand, the dog gave us the okay! All in all it was an interesting experience, the officers were cool guys and we learned a lot about how things are done at the border. Would I want to do it again?, no but I figure it can’t get any worse.
Story goes on……. Agent 2 and I decide to continue on with the mission and to go to the airport to see what Intel we can get. We make it to the airport and come to find out that the defendant never made it on the flight that we expected, all that and he never boarded. At this point now were feeling pretty done, Agent 2 and I are feeling like we’ve earned some beers and tacos so we decide to go to downtown Tijuana.
I guess the point of this story is when going to Mexico make sure you remove anything and everything from your vehicle that is illegal in Mexico or better yet just park on the U.S. side and walk across. Hell taxis are cheap and it’s a lot less headaches. .
Written by Bail Bond Agent (fugitive recovery)

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