On Assignment with Nancy...err, Gigi Graciette
Radio silence...that's an old cop term used when something big is going down; so big you don't want to give it away by talking about it on the radio, so you go on mute.
And that's what we were asked to do today as we were invited to join LA County Sheriff Deputy's and federal agents with the FDA in "Operation No Laughing Matter" for a behind the scenes look at one of the nation's largest "noz" raids.
No tweeting, no texting, no talking.
OK, we could talk but understandably we couldn't talk about what was going on until it was all done. Don't want to tweet about a raid in progress and watch the bad guys retweet themselves right into hiding.
So we met at a secret location, also known as a public park, far away from the "targets" where my photographer Ken and I were assigned to team 8.
I wanted a secret handshake and a code name too...like "Nancy Drew" or "Secret Agent Reporter Girl" but they said it wasn't necessary. They obviously didn't read the book where Nancy...never mind, I digress.
Then we had to wait for the phone call which would tell us where to meet for the big move.
I envisioned my iPhone ringing and a deep mysterious voice saying "Should you choose to accept it, this is your mission..." and then I remembered that on TV after 30 seconds, the tape thing always self-destructed and then how would I tweet so I un-envisioned that real fast.
We met at another secret location (also known as a fast food joint) where we were told we'd be going to a welding shop suspected of illegally selling "noz" or "nos".
And it was on!
"I'm innocent"' said one man as he was taken away in cuffs. When he saw me, he said it again...in Spanish. No fooling him with my blonde locks. ¡No señor!
Secret agent fantasies aside, it is always fascinating to watch as these operations, years in the planning, go down. And it's days like this that I love my job even more.
When all was said and seized, 36 thousand pounds of Nitrous Oxide police say was being sold illegally as Noz was seized with a street value of 20 million dollars.
Most importantly though are the countless number of balloons those tanks WON'T be filling this weekend and the countless numbers of lives possibly saved.
And that truly is NO LAUGHING MATTER.