During the early part of my law enforcement career the only time I ever needed a sharp knife was when I wanted to make a sandwich. Things changed when I started flying drug interdiction missions as a U.S. Customs Air Officer in the mid 1980s. In addition to being heavily armed with two handguns and an assault rifle, I was also issued a pocketknife and a U.S. military pilot survival knife with my flying gear.

After being promoted to the rank of Special Agent I ended up directing and participating in covert air and marine operations while assigned to the Miami Air Smuggling Investigations Group 7. During these undercover operations my colleagues and I would infiltrate Colombian-based smuggling organizations for the purpose of mounting sting ops known as a “controlled delivery” missions.

While mounting these operations, real smugglers would hire my colleagues and I to transport/smuggle multi-hundred and multi-thousand-kilogram shipments of cocaine to various cities in the CONUS (Continental U.S.). When we were unable to use private aircraft to complete our mission we went to Colombia by boat. Either way the plan called for us to transport drug shipments from Colombia to the U.S. for a substantial fee. Naturally, once we were paid for our transportation services we would complete our sting operation by arresting every violator involved in the case.

During one of these covert operations I traveled to the Colombian coast with my undercover crew on a rented 100-foot UC vessel that was unofficially called the Cocaine Express. Our plan was to rendezvous with a Colombian vessel and pick up 750 kilos of cocaine, a wanted fugitive in Miami, and a Colombian representative for the shipment.

The most important part of our journey was to make the pickup 12 miles from the Colombian coast. Since our vessel was expected to sit higher in the water than the Colombian vessel, it was necessary for us to cut deck line into long pieces so we could use the rope to pull numerous 20 to 25 kilo packages of cocaine from the Colombian vessel onto our boat.

In order to do this, my colleagues and I assembled on the stern deck of the UC boat and used various knives to cut long strips of line from the supply we had on board our vessel. It didn’t take long after we started cutting deck line before some of the knives needed to be sharpened. Fortunately for me, my Spyderco cut through plastic deck line like a hot knife through butter. All I assumed at the time was that the fully serrated blade on my Police Model Spyderco was better suited for this task than the other knives that my buddies carried.

While we completed this task I remembered the day a former U.S. Navy SEAL friend of mine recommended that I purchase one of the new Spyderco Police Model Knives with a serrated blade. Being a former SEAL, my buddy used his contact at Spyderco to place my order and made sure that my knife was parkerized as well.

At that time Spyderco knives were the most famous folding knives on the market. Simply put, in those days a Spyderco was the knife to have clipped to the waistband of your pants. Even though I would have preferred to carry a knife without the word “POLICE” stamped on the blade, I made an exception in this case because I had no intention of allowing any of the bad guys to examine my knife. I would have to be dead for that to happen. Besides, by having my Spyderco knife parkerized, the word POLICE became less obvious. Thanks in part to my Spyderco knife, this controlled delivery ended in success.

Ever since the day I used my Spyderco knife to cut thick plastic deck line on an undercover vessel, I have been telling fellow law enforcement officers and my civilian friends about the merits of carrying and using a Spyderco knife. As I tell everyone, one of the best investments I ever made, as far as police equipment is concerned, was to spend 50 bucks and purchase a parkerized Police Model Spyderco knife. Whether I operated on land, sea, or in the air I carried my Syderco and considered it to be the ultimate backup weapon to the two handguns I carried. Besides, I never knew when I would need a good knife to make a sandwich.

About the author: Nick Jacobellis is a Medically Retired U.S. Customs Agent and former NY police officer that was physically disabled in the line of duty while working undercover as a federal agent.

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