REVIEW: Controlled Delivery by Nick Jacobellis

The Controlled Delivery series of books are an autobiographical sketch by the author who is a retired US Customs Senior Special Agent. Agent Nick Jacobellis tells his story of his rise through the ranks to a trusted position of leading his own team in a unique undercover operation utilizing Confidential Informants, former drug smugglers, ex-convicts, moonlighting airline pilots, and a band of outcasts that bonded together to plan and execute high risk “controlled deliveries” of contraband. The group was named “The Blade Runner Squadron” and as they developed their targets, they would gain the confidence of drug lords and drug runners that were looking for experienced pilots and drug smugglers that could get their product to the streets of the US.

A typical scenario for the “The Blade Runner Squadron” calls for the team making a connection with Columbian drug lords and convincing them that their team can get their contraband to the US undetected and without any issues along the way. Unbeknownst to the drug smugglers, the same personnel that were planning and executing the operation were the same agents that would bust them and place them in custody, once they reached US Soil. Like most detailed drug sting operations, they were meticulously planned but often encountered issues along the way with interfering agencies that would not cooperate or provide the necessary country clearance for the team to operate effectively. More often than not the quick-thinking Blade Runner team would develop a solution on the spot to ensure that the operation completed with near perfect results. Near perfect results were – drugs entering the US under a “Controlled Delivery” and then confiscated, followed by the apprehension of the drug lords and smugglers.

As the author points out numerous times, none of these drug war operational tactics and techniques are taught at FLETC (Federal Law Enforcement Training Center ) or any other agency training environments. Almost all of their team tactics and techniques were developed and refined in-house. These US Customs agents deliberately put themselves in harm’s way during the drug wars to prevent these products from reaching our kids and families. Of course, they could not stop all of the drug traffic but they certainly led the way in reducing the amount of product on the street. In four years of operating as “The Blade Runner Squadron” they were responsible for seizing over 22,000 pounds of cocaine, 11,000 pounds of pot, $3 Millions dollars in drug money and the arrest of 70 drug smugglers. Let that sink in! That’s is a helluva a lot of product removed from the streets of the US.

“The Blade Runner Squadron” was an experienced group of professional drug interdiction personnel and equipment that deserves more recognition than it ever received in the papers or on main stream media sources. These men were the real heroes in the drug war that has never really ended! This team created their own methodology, perfected it, and put it into practical application in a highly effective way. Did they break some of the rules? You bet they did. They had to. Sometimes when your own rules are stacked against you, you have to become creative in developing work-arounds and on the spot solutions to get the job done.  This wasn’t easy work. Especially when agents are putting their life on the line and things could go south at any moment during the operation. It takes level headed, calm, and cool agents and leaders like Nick and the Blade Runner Squadron, to ensure that the operation is planned in detail with little margin for error, and then executed with the precision of a skilled surgeon.

A great read for those who like thrillers and real-life hero stories, the “Controlled Delivery” series provides non-stop action from cover to cover that will compel the reader to pay attention to the details of the story. A true story, Controlled Delivery, a secret for over two decades, is finally being told. This book has been authorized for publication by the U.S. Customs Service.

These books are available on (Volume 1) (Volume 2 here) (US) and (Volume 1) (Volume 2 here) (UK).