Tuesday, February 17, 2009

Not corruption, just plain crime

There is good news and bad news for your erstwhile correspondent, the writing muse has finally taken a firm grip; the inspiration is crime, but the research is going places I never contemplated.

I’ve blogged previously about this strange neighbourhood I’ve landed in; the proximity to serious rime past and present, to jailbirds historic and current, to the violence and desperation which shadows a brisk drugs trade. It is one thing to observe, until very recently the ability to write in depth about it alluded me.

I have the key now, thanks to the persistence of some informants eager to share their experiences. I wanted to avoid writing about local and current criminality, I’m not that brave. Instead I saw the path leading back to the rich, fecund fields of crime in Sydney in the 1960s and 70s.

Living there around that time I had some insights, if not personal experience, enough to create a canvas on which to paint the narrative. Best of all, the min players are now dead for the most part or never likely to leave prison. Those still active in the community seem to live happily with their notoriety, so again little risk there.

Enter corruption on a grand scale

The problem is staying focused and safe. I am being given great detail on the criminals of the period; bank robbers, hold-up men, hit men and body disposal experts. All suitably colourful and dramatic in their own right. But a little research leads to a deeper darker pond.

From the 1930s through to the mid 60s Australia had been gloriously free of the illicit drug menace, but the Vietnam war and presence of R&R troops changed that in major ways. Sure we had our organised crime, organised by police and major politicians quite often. That is where I am trying to focus, the local pissant crime, but a bigger story still beckons.

With the advent of Sydney as a major funnel for the Golden Triangle opium local politicians and police recruited by far more powerful forces, the American CIA/Mob interests. Indeed it was not just the heroin traffic which mainly just passed through but Australia was ideally situated to provide a growing US demand for marijuana.

While my informants can give me minute detail on our home grown criminals they quickly develop amnesia when it comes to that next level, even though they don’t deny associations. In fact it was talk of purely local activities that bought up the linking names, research is filling the rest of the picture.

My long concern over corruption is taking on a new level of understanding with the information being pieced together. There is now a picture of a corrupt local cop linked to a corrupt state premier linked to a know CIA agent or US Mafia figure linked to the highest levels of US government. I can understand the reticence of my informants, even dead some of these characters looms large as a threat, and besides others always fill the gap left by the dead.

Curiosity is going to drive the desire to research further but I’m not sure just how or how much I’m willing to revel. A book on the Sydney activities of Sydney criminals, with the personal insights I’m being given, is certainly plenty to go on with. The rest of the story is compelling however.

In the end I’m seeing that corruption is just crime, that international leaders, political and corporate, can be just crooks like the local variety.


abi said...

Government officials and the CIA involved in drugs? I'm shocked. ;-)

In the 80s, John Kerry led an investigation into such connections, and nobody seemed to care very much.

D.K. Raed said...

Your research sounds fascinating! Please be careful; you know who you're dealing with. And as you know, sometimes what people are reticent to talk about can lead you on your trail toward the truth.

Good insight that bringing Australia into the international drug biz was yet another fallout of US involvement in Vietnam, too. I had no idea. You guys are so conveniently located, I would've thought narco traffic there was a given.

argentinito said...

free west papua now!

Ingrid said...

You know, in this day and age of internet access, easier flow of information etc..it's easy to think, sure, I'll write about that but you're right not to be 'too brave'! I live in Texas and I 'hear' about some shady, underbelly stuff that makes you think SHIT, that can't be happening. But yes it can and does. And ones' identity is so easily found even when using a pen name...I've always been a 'crime person' (whodunnit only of course) but when writing about the real thing, you have to think it through carefully.
That said, lucky you to have found your muse..mine has come and gone and kids have a way of 'zapping' her away from you too..

So keep her going and yourself to in the process..it sounds like very fascinating stuff..I need to be more faithful and come back!!

Ingrid (she of the 'what list' count! [g] oh carster, I'm so uninteresting, it's too sad..snif)*

lindsaylobe said...

Hi Cart
Can of Worms by Evan Whitten was a book I found not only a good read but first class journalism into organized crime and how it infiltrated the judicial and policing areas of NSW. He has an on line opinion website at
and I thought he may be a person worth considering in any future collaboration should you wish to pursue your interest in that way.

I think everyone is affected by fraud or corruption and economically we also share the burden of poor economic outcomes that means infrastructure doesn’t always work and we have to put up with inflated prices within a system that ensures those unfair choices are underwritten by the payment of bribes channeled into off shore havens.

The position is made far worse by the onslaught of globalization and in the unfettered use of tax havens.

Best wishes

Cart said...

G'day all, and thanks. I've been offline for so long I forget what its like to be on.
The great part has been the forced opportunity to organise my research notes and nut out an approach.
What I hoped would be tongue in cheek is developing a different personality, but supported from proper sources.
All I need now is a stable connection, which should happen soon. Blame storms, floods and killer humidity :(