tv Vegas Undercover MSNBC January 22, 2012 1:00pm-2:00pm PST
say, that's the person who committed the crime against me. >> when justice is served in this case, nicolas felix and the other suspects will get exactly what they deserve. i'm stone phillips. and for all of us at nbc news, good night. this may not be the las vegas you know. this is the underbelly. an underworld filled with criminals, with undercover cops trying to catch those crooks. >> i told him to go [ bleep ] himself. >> in this episode, police set
up a sting, a fake fencing operation for stolen goods. >> how dangerous is this? >> i'd say it's very dangerous. >> with hidden cameras rolling, the bad guys unwittingly divulge in frightening detail -- >> they're capable of a crime spree. >> -- how they commit their crimes. then we confront them in jail to dig deeper into the mind of a criminal. >> you think it's funny? >> i don't think it's funny at all. >> it's real. it's revealing. it's raw. >> i don't even get letters. nothing. >> hello. i'm chris hansen. a team of producers, photographers and i spent more than a year following several sting operations conducted by
the las vegas police department. we were given unprecedented access to law enforcement, and an underworld that exists beyond the glitz of the vegas strip. but only a fraction of what we shot was ever broadcast. until now. in this hour of "vegas undercover raw," you'll meet criminals, hear how they committed their crimes, and then i confront many of them in jail, where some lies are told, but also some revealing truths are exposed. >> this is the [ bleep ] they're talking about. i'm sitting here talking to the home boy right now. >> brad is one of the very first people to walk into the store front. he seems like a pretty hard guy, a rough guy. i mean, i wouldn't want to go up against him in a dark alley. >> call my home bro, and i'll get him out there. >> i'm going to shoot one of you in the face, i swear. it's retarded, homes. they turn the littlest [ bleep ] into the biggest thing ever.
>> he's agitated, because he's supposed to show up with some cars and his minions are supposed to bring them in, and they lose the car. >> hey, would you go outside in the parking lot and show these [ bleep ] morons where the truck is, please? and if you have a [ bleep ] pistol, shoot 'em in the face? hold on, hold on. thank you. hello? you found it? you remember where you're going? all right. all right. >> the undercover detectives are trying to just make conversation. to be credible, as they wait for these cars to show up. >> i've got to hear the story before we're done. about what you were doing. this frickin' drunk. >> and all of a sudden, brad opens up with this very physical description of how he stole this pickup truck, this vehicle. >> it's like 5:30 in the [ bleep ] morning, homes, and i'm in a pissy-ass mood.
and they're behind us and a pretty work truck comes, and he's trying to get up over the curb, over the bushes, to pass us. >> it's disturbing to hear brad talk about this particular victim. >> and check this one. i said you know what, dude, i'm not even going to [ bleep ]. i dropped the pistol, and i said, i'm just going to pistol-whip him. and it falls off the curb. and skates all the way down the side of my car. little did i know that the black plastic on the fenders just left black plastic. >> all over your [ bleep ]. >> didn't hurt it. >> but still, touched the car. i said, here we go, dude. i got out of the car and said, what's going on? and boom, i put it right there. i still got [ bleep ] cuts and shot.
and right through his dude, and [ bleep ] drug him right through and put him on the [ bleep ] ground, and -- [ bleep ]. boom. and you know what, dude, ba boom. oh! i fixed the window and everything. it's all fixed. >> but you broke his window out? >> yeah, punched -- >> i thought it was his face, dude. >> right with one shot. [ bleep ] smashed his rings. don't feel my finger no more. >> the tirade brad unleashes next may be difficult to hear, and can only be described as racist. >> i don't like [ bleep ]. i don't like -- i tell them to their face, home boy, don't bring [ bleep ] to my house, dude. i don't like them in my house. i spent years in prison and i know just exactly how they are. >> they want to gather as much evidence as possible. so when these guys come in, like brad, they do a deal.
they give them money for the car. they want them to go back out and spread the word, and even bring in more cars, because with each visit, there is a better, broader criminal investigation. >> yeah? cool. >> all right, dude. >> and so they let many of these people walk. to continue these crimes. because at the end of the investigation, they will have a bigger pool of criminals that they will ultimately take off the street. >> your girl's doing good? >> yeah, she's good. >> excellent. >> brad ends up in jail, not for his participation in the store front operation, but he gets pulled over in a traffic stop, and there's an outstanding warrant in another matter. so he gets put in jail. before the end of the investigation. hey, brad. >> how are you doing? >> we were able to talk to some of the people arrested in the
sting, both as they were being brought in, but also later, actually, in the local jail. chris hanson with "dateline" nbc. how are you doing? brad comes into the room, we're sitting there with cameras. he's an intimidating guy, a guy by his own admission a propensity toward violence. he has obviously been living the criminal life, and he is by his own admission a racist. he's a bad guy. we're doing a story on this investigation that was conducted by the metro vegas police department. and i wanted to ask you a couple questions about it, if that's okay with you. >> investigation for what? >> well, for a lot of things. including people who are selling stolen vehicles. do you know anything about this? >> absolutely not. >> not at all. did you sell anyone any stolen vehicles? >> absolutely not. >> no? no trucks? no dodge chargers? >> absolutely not. >> none of that. you're sure? >> i'm positive. >> because maybe is this a big mix-up. >> wasn't me. >> do you think that's what it was?
>> i don't know what it is. >> so you never have stolen a truck or a car or you never -- >> i went to prison for stolen cars. >> you did? >> yeah. >> when was that? >> 2005. >> and how long did you -- >> three years. >> three years in prison. >> uh-huh. >> how was that? >> it's prison. >> prison is prison. >> yeah. >> and so -- >> they take your freedom. you're from where? >> i'm from "dateline" nbc, i'm a reporter. >> okay. >> you ever watch "dateline" nbc? >> i never watch tv. >> it's interesting, because there is a good chance you're going to be on television. there is a situation where people came into this storefront, and sold stolen items -- >> uh-huh. >> -- to undercover police officers. and i'm wondering if i can show you a videotape real quick. >> actually touched the cars here. and yo, dude, and what's going on. and boom.
i put it right through. >> it was fascinating. because i played the videotape, and he's looking. right at it. and he has this very distinct physical facial reaction. it's almost like a twitch or a tick. and he knows at that moment that he's been nailed. and he had no clue up until this very second that he was captured on videotape. how do you explain that? >> explain what? >> explain what was going on there? >> i was talking to somebody. >> you were talking to somebody. who were you talking to? >> i don't know. but i'm done talking. i want to talk to my attorney. >> there is nothing i can do to make him talk. so at that point, he gets up and goes back to his cell. >> brad pleads guilty to possession of stolen vehicles, and attempting to sell the stolen vehicles. he is sentenced to 10 to 25 years in prison. when brad is taken off the streets, the sting operation is still taking customers, and even as he sat in jail for months
before our interview, he had no idea he was caught in its net. brad is significant, because he becomes pretty much a sales rep for the sting operation. the reason this is so important is, that they need credibility. they need thieves, crooks, out on the streets of las vegas to really buy into the fact that this is a fencing operation. it's not some sort of a police sting. so brad goes out there on the street, and leader in jail, and lends the undercover investigators credibility. he goes out and says, look, this is really a fencing operation, and all these other crooks believe it, so they start bringing in cars that were stolen, guns that were stolen, and several others. coming up, the front is open for business. >> just want to disappear. >> exactly. we keep them busy. this -- [ bleep ]. >> word is out on the street. and you'll meet some of brad's
referrals, including his girlfriend. >> i have never had a job in my life. >> watch raw video, dangerous situations. understand how the criminal mind works. >> when you're getting the money to get by and survive, or were you getting money to get high? >> both. immediately to get high. >> when "vegas undercover raw" continues.i ust saved a ton of y at staples. great job, dave. suck-up. [ male announcer ] in a small business, it's all you. that's why you have us. at staples, we have low prices on everything your small business needs. staples. that was easy. an accident doesn't have to slow you down... with better car replacement,
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the storefront operated for the better part of a year. some 40 criminals, 100 crimes. very successful. it was very important in this investigation that the undercover cops had credibility. i mean, you know, i've looked into the eyes of a lot of criminals. and i can tell you when they're suspicious or whether they're comfortable. and these undercover cops really did a masterful job of making
these folks comfortable, of having conversations that would not raise suspicion. you know, these guys are out there without a net. >> how dangerous is this? >> uc i would say is very dangerous. >> uc stands for undercover and we blur their faces for their protection. >> they never built any relationships with any of the suspects, they come off the street, make the cold phone call to the number, and they come in. so it's pretty dangerous. >> so you have some background, but you don't know exactly who you're dealing with in some cases here. >> yeah, most of the time you don't. we have i.d.'d them through fingerprints, or names. they have given us a name and we tracked them down and given them pictures, and they said, yeah, that's them. but at least 95% are multiple ex felons so all bad characters. >> could be carrying weapons? >> absolutely. >> the value of seeing this video raw is two-fold. one, you actually get to see how a police sting operation works. you get to go behind the scenes. most people don't get to do that.
secondly, you really start to understand how the criminal mind works. i mean, there are people in this city and all over the country that get up every morning and it's their job to find a criminal opportunity. that's how they make their living. whether it's stealing cars or getting their hands on other hot property like weapons. this is what these people do, 9:00 to 5:00, every day. and it's fascinating. >> all right, come on. it's not much cooler, but it's a little bit. so what's going on? >> alicia gets brought into this by her boyfriend, brad. and when brad gets arrested and put in jail on those unrelated charges, she sort of takes over his place in this whole operation. she is now the one who is bringing in the stolen cars and encouraging other car thieves to bring the cars into the fencing operation. >> you seem pretty stressed out. >> well, yeah [ bleep ] like -- i'm fine.
>> are you sure? you've got some [ bleep ]. >> i mean, i don't know. i don't get mad at brad for [ bleep ] always running around. but it seems like since i got out and he's still in there, like, now i'm the one doing all of the running around, trying to get everything all -- trying to get money. and it's just ridiculous. >> are you working right now? >> no. >> or are you talking even rent or what? >> i have never had a job in my life. >> shut up. how old are you? >> 21. >> you've never had a job ever? burger barn, subway, nothing? >> i've never had to. >> i'll give you that. cool. >> to hear alicia tell it, she is just doing a favor for some friends, basically. some friends have some cars, they want to sell the cars. she knows about this operation through her boyfriend brad. she is the middle person, if you will, the middleman, who is just going to bring the parties together, so they can do this deal.
>> they don't want [ bleep ] around, you know. >> all right. >> and -- >> what do they want for it, did they tell you? i'm not going to beat you up. i'm not going to be mean to you. but i know they gave you a price. >> okay. i'm going to be straight up. he said [ bleep ] try to get [ bleep ] 35. but get whatever you can for it. >> okay. no way i can give you 35. >> like i told brad, i never paid $1500 for a car ever, and you know that. >> the pricing, and this is kind of surprising to me how little these thieves would accept for these cars. basically, it was $200 per $10,000 of real value for the vehicles. so in other words, you know, if you had a $20,000 car, you know, you were getting 400 bucks, whether it's a mercedes, or a corvette, or a honda or minivan, it doesn't matter. what they're telling some of
these crooks is, these cars are going to be chopped up for parts. >> the last two rides we did with brad, i did 750, you know. i know this is a little bit nicer of a car. but it's also because it's not as common -- it's not a chevy. i can pull a chevy, fender up and sell a chevy like that. >> and alicia is here to sell a very nice car, a mercedes sl 500. >> an sl 500 is not -- >> the more exotic cars aren't as common and you can't do nothing -- >> exactly, we can't just chop it up. >> right. >> so i mean -- 800 bucks, i'll give you a little bit more than what i did with brad on the last two. but again -- >> right. >> it's hard for us to move something like that. >> right. >> and the undercover cops do pay a little bit more than what they normally would, $1,250 in this case. and the reason is, they want her to keep coming back and to spread the word and to bring in other crooks who have stolen items. and in the case of alicia, she does come back.
again and again and again. >> you said you came from a ballet? >> yeah. >> sweet. you have the parker guys in on it with you or just went by and stretched -- nice. >> basically. well, no, they left it in there. because, like, they'll park the cars -- they park it in valet where they valet park. >> and stack 'em up? >> you know, they'll pull in valet parking, and then the valet will come out and get into it, and whatever -- well, they leave the keys in a lot of times, so the valet can drag it off into a parking spot and walk into a casino or whatever. >> and you had someone walk up and take off. >> i didn't have anybody do anything, really. >> right. >> but, like -- they come to me with things and stuff. >> alicia becomes one of the very best customers. both as somebody, you know, bringing in stolen vehicles, and bringing in other customers. i think she came in a total of eight or nine times during the course of the investigation. so they end up with a lot of
hidden camera videotape of alicia. >> all right. >> the first time alicia comes into the storefront, you know, you would say that she was, you know, a fairly attractive woman. but as she returns -- >> another update or what? >> ooh. rough few days. >> she seems to age. and one can assume that, you know, life is rough for her. out there on the streets. >> what? now what? >> don't laugh at my hair. >> oh, no. you looked like something was wrong. >> because there is a big difference between the first time alicia walks in and the last time she walks in. she looks like a whole different person. when police decide to shut down the front, and round up all the alleged criminals who come through the storefront, alicia is swept up by the cops. she declined to talk to us. >> can we go? >> but does plead guilty to several crimes related to her activities at the front, including burglary and
possession of stolen vehicles. she is sentenced to 4 to 13 years in jail. coming up. more criminals committing crimes. more raw footage. >> just wanted to disappear. >> exactly. >> and -- how hard is that for you to cope with the fact that you don't have a relationship with your kids? >> it tears you up inside. i don't even get letters. nothing. >> when "vegas undercover raw" continues.
the storefront has now been operating for a couple months, and in comes a woman named cheryl miller, nicknamed chevy, and here is another person who was referred to the operation by brad. and she's got cars to sell. and she's got friends who have cars to sell. >> do you know what they want for it? i mean, is this a friend of yours?
>> that's what i thought -- i took it off their hands. so it's whatever. >> so the person you got it from the person who observed it. >> yeah, they owned it, they turned it in for insurance or whatever. >> the first time cheryl miller, chevy, are came into the storefront operation, she actually had a mustang that was given to her by a friend who had reported it stolen, apparently to try to get the insurance payoff on it. >> they just want it to disappear. >> exactly. >> yeah. so they don't care -- >> like a hundred bucks. >> oh. >> and they said here's the deed. >> no [ bleep ]. >> yeah, so a friend of mine, 12:30 at night, and started and drove it out of the driveway. >> nice. how did you feel about that? >> well, i don't know -- >> so they even know you're coming. >> one of the most important things that these undercover cops are doing during this case is really giving the sales pitch. and in order to enhance their credibility, you know, they really want to gain the trust of the people coming in. because they knew that they would spread the word, and that would only bring in more customers. and make it a more significant case. and that's exactly what they do with chevy. >> just so you kind of understand what's going on, you
can bring cars, just -- i drove a business, i'm not -- cars, guns, we do computers, you know, something from like a burglary or whatever. and because you know brad, i'll take whatever. but you will not get top dollar here. but the reason is, i've got to pay for the rent, i've got to pay power. but it keeps it off the street, it looks legitimate. i've got a bs business. i'm as legitimate as you could possibly be without doing anything legitimate, you know what i'm saying? >> right. all three -- >> i'll be honest with you. guns are huge, because i don't have to chop them up. that won't be a mustang by tomorrow afternoon. that will be some wheels, a rim and maybe a fender. but the guns, they're out of town once a week. so if you get some, you will get as much almost for an entire gun as you would for a car. because the problem is, i might be able to sell the air bag out of that car, and the windshield and the rest of it is garbage to
me. when you come across computers and stuff -- >> everything. all the time. >> the same thing i told alicia. everybody who shows up and says your name, you get money on the back end. >> okay. >> there are always two undercover cops there at the storefront out front. when chevy is there, one of them actually goes outside. to look at this mustang. to see, in fact, if it is what she is advertising. so for a little while, you just see the two of them. and then the undercover cop who went outside to look at the car actually comes back into the storefront with one of chevy's friends. >> that's the kind of car that, i mean, i probably would go like 200 bucks on. okay? i told her if you guys are willing to do some more business with us, and, you know, we're going to establish something, you know what, i'll always kick in a little bit more to keep coming back, because that brings me money. if you're [ bleep ] quitting -- one time and that's it, then you know, 200 bucks and we're done. >> all right. >> so it's up to you guys. >> all right. >> we're going to keep you busy. >> well, we'll do 300 on this ride.
>> chevy is somebody who is obviously very comfortable in criminal circles. she sees a business opportunity here. she has all these contacts in the criminal world. and she really believes that she can bring in a lot of folks with stolen cars to sell. and, in fact, she does. >> this is the last -- >> the next time chevy comes in, she brings two more cars, and five guns. that's a pretty big deal, because now you're starting to see a very serious criminal case being developed against chevy. >> about 400 for all the guns. we'll do 5 for the truck and then the 1 for the -- what's that -- >> one, two, three -- >> chevy comes in a few more times. more guns. more cars. she gets paid. but ultimately, the police wrap up this investigation. and round up the suspects.
including chevy. coming up. i'm there to greet chevy in jail. >> hey, cheryl. >> hi. >> a candid conversation with a career criminal. >> how do you break that cycle of crime? >> you're asking a 40-year-old woman who has not broke the cycle. you tell me how to break the cycle. >> when "vegas undercover raw" continues. [ female announcer ] goodnight gluttony, a farewell long awaited. goodnight, stuffy. goodnight, outdated.
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i'm melissa rehberger. gabrielle giffords says she needs to focus from her wounds. mitt romney announced he is going to release some of his tax returns. the former governor said he will post online his taxes for last year and a projection for this year's filings. he conceded withholding them to this point was a mistake. now back to "vegas undercover." i interviewed many of the
criminals caught in the undercover sting operations by the las vegas police department. going into my interviews, i never knew what i was going to get. surely some lied to me and i knew it. but others decided to really open up. when i talked with chevy, a woman arrested for selling cars and guns in the sting, it quickly becomes clear that she's willing to share the intimate details of her life. providing us with a rare glimpse into the mind of a career criminal. hey, cheryl. >> hi. >> chris hanson. i'm with "dateline" nbc, how are you? >> fine. >> would you like to have a seat? i wanted to ask you a couple questions about an investigation we're doing a story on. it's a wide-ranging story about a bunch of different investigations that have been conducted here in the las vegas area. one of them was a storefront fencing operation. where people showed up and sold stolen cars, stolen guns,
counterfeit money, all kinds of things. and you turned up in this storefront. do you remember anything about that? can you explain any of that to me? >> no. >> okay. can i show you a videotape that i think you might like to see? >> sure. >> okay. >> this -- when i'm on vacation. >> do you know anything about that? >> yeah. >> now, what were you talking about there, cheryl? >> i'd rather not comment. >> have you ever been in prison before? >> yes. twice. >> twice. felonies? >> all felonies. born and raised in las vegas. product of these streets. >> how did you end up in such a jam like this? >> well, when you're beaten from the age of 3 1/2 to 14, you don't stand much of a chance. from the age of 14, i was on the streets. >> how do you survive at the age of 14 years old on the streets
of las vegas? now, i'm not from here, but i've certainly spent a fair amount of time here. >> the criminals raise you. you get raised by criminals here. streets are a sad thing. >> i can bet. we have seen a fair share of it. >> oh, yeah. born and raised. i'm a native. >> how do you break that cycle of crime? how do you finally get out of it? i'm guessing that you don't want to be here. >> you're asking a 40-year-old woman who has not broke the cycle. three children cared more about what i was doing and the drugs and everything else more than i did my own children. you tell me how to break the cycle. >> i'm not pretending that i'm an expert or i know the answer here. >> right. >> and i'm not trying to be holier than thou. i just want to understand -- >> everybody that went to, say, their shop and everything else, cared more about the meth than they did their own children. i've been doing this and going to prison since 1995. 25 years old, and my first arrest for selling drugs.
>> three flat means three years in prison. >> my first arrest ever. >> what kind of drugs were you selling? >> meth. >> what kind of drugs were you using? >> meth. everything. marijuana, meth. >> now, meth is a powerful drug. >> yes, it is. i've been doing meth since i was 16 years old. >> is it in some ways a relief to be in jail and away from meth, and that lifestyle? >> yeah, it is. i have somewhere to sleep at night. my kids will graduate because they're not out with me. my oldest one just graduated, because i didn't pursue getting custody of her. >> chevy was very forward about her life, and it was really -- emotional for me to sit there
and listen to her. because she actually told me at one point that she was almost glad that she was in jail, because she couldn't get her hands on meth, and maybe then she would actually be able to have some sort of meaningful relationship with her children. who could come visit her in jail. how are they doing? >> fabulous. because i didn't raise them. i had no parental guidance. >> do you talk to them at all? >> no. no. >> how hard is that for you? you know, these long stretches of sobriety in jail to cope with the fact that you don't have a relationship with your kids? >> it tears you up inside. tears you up inside. i don't even get letters. nothing. a handmade jailhouse birthday card to send for a birthday that just passed. it's hard. i don't get it, i guess is what they call it.
>> now, obviously, you realize that this is yet another case here. >> no, i don't. >> this investigation. >> no, i don't. >> do you remember being in this storefront? >> yeah, i do. i knew it. yeah, i do. >> did you think it might have been an undercover investigation? >> i did. >> but you went ahead and sold some five vehicles and six guns and you visited the store? >> oh, i didn't sell five vehicles and six guns. >> you did not? >> no, i did not. >> did you help sell five vehicles? >> yeah, i was there. i helped, yes. >> okay. so you were a part of the deals. >> yes. >> okay. >> well -- no, i just brought people there to do that. >> you were the middleman. so to speak. >> yes. >> so you had people who had vehicles and guns to sell. you knew -- >> yes. >> -- of this place. these guys were buying them, and you put the deal together. >> yes. >> does that make you just as guilty as the person -- >> absolutely. absolutely. >> and so now you're jammed up yet another time here.
>> absolutely. >> were you getting the money to get by and survive or were you getting the money to get high? >> both. immediately to get high. i really didn't need a place to stay, because wherever i was bringing the money to, they would let me stay, you know. i was going to leave when i got out of prison in '07 and got caught up again, you know. got caught up with the same people i messed with before i went in. >> did you ever think about just moving away from las vegas? >> absolutely. yes, i did. >> have you ever done it? >> no. >> why not? >> well, who knows. i don't know how to answer that question. >> were you suspicious when you were in that storefront? >> absolutely. >> but the money was good? >> no, the money wasn't even good. but it was money to get high with. >> i truly believe that chevy is remorseful. i truly believe that she was an
addict, and that was the reason behind committing some of these crimes. but she gave up three kids. and now, as i'm talking to her, you see somebody who really understands how she has blown her life. she knows that she's lost her kids, and she knows that she is going to prison for a long time. chevy pleads guilty to several crimes related to her activity at the fake fencing operation, including burglary, possession of a firearm by an ex-felon, and possession of stolen vehicles. she is sentenced to 8 to 20 years in prison. coming up. >> wow! >> a tree trimmer uses his job to scout his prey. and in my jailhouse conversation, he tells me how it all works. how much money did you get for all this stuff? >> i would get a percentage of maybe 50 bucks or a car.
>> was it worth it? >> when "vegas undercover raw" continues. vie shoot and it hasn't been going exactly as planned. cut. cut! [ monica ] i thought we'd be on location for 3 days -- it's been 3 weeks. so i had to pick up some more things. good thing i've got the citi simplicity card. i don't get hit with a fee if i'm late with a payment... which is good because on this job, no! bigger! [ monica ] i may not be home for a while. [ male announcer ] the new citi simplicity card. no late fees. no penalty rate. no worries.
the fake fencing store, a sting operation run by the las vegas police department, stayed open for the better part of a year. and it didn't take long for word to spread within a couple of crime rings in las vegas that the front is a good place to unload stolen items. >> i've got it all here. i actually moved on from here and it's been a [ bleep ] nightmare. >> good luck, my dear bro. >> levi came into the storefront through chevy, who came in through brad. and he's got a stolen car to sell. he doesn't look like a big-time tough guy or criminal. levi has a job. >> i was out there --
>> you're a whatter? >> tree trimmer. >> oh, a tree trimmer. i thought you said tree jumper. >> he says the tree trimming job is a great opportunity to find cars to steal. it's a criminal opportunity. >> oh, so you're doing the job. >> yeah. >> so neat, dude. you do this often, because we could talk. >> apparently, levi does do this often. shortly after his visit with chevy, he's back. this time, on his own. >> i'm not out there -- i mean, this is just -- i mean, for whatever. >> your rate. >> yeah. >> is that how you got this thing? >> no, the car. >> like someone's driveway? >> yeah. sitting right there. >> in the driveway of the house? >> no, in the garage. the garage was wide open. >> he almost from the very beginning is justifying why he stole this car. telling the undercover detectives that somebody stupidly left their keys sitting
next to the car that was parked outside in the driveway. it was almost like, you know, that made it okay to steal that car. >> the problem is, that's not what happened. we know from talking to the victim that the car was locked in the garage. so levi was able to get into the garage, he was able to get his hands on the keys, and he took that car. >> find one there -- >> basically what the cops did was take one of these magazines that advertises used cars, auto trader, wheeler dealer, and they would assign a real value to a car based upon what a similar car was advertised for in a magazine. so say if a toyota came in, and the magazine said it was worth $20,000, they would pay $200 for every $10,000 which means 400 bucks would go to the crook. >> that's an '05, so an '07, two more grand to it, because keys -- that's an '05. so -- and it's nine grand, so you're looking at like 12.
so we'll say 250 even. and then on the caddie -- it's anywhere from 13,000 up to 25. so, you know -- we'll call it like 18. and we'll do 300 for the caddy. and i'll do 250 on the kia. >> okay. >> levi ends up being a pretty big player in this operation. he comes back four times, selling about a half dozen cars. so he's very active in this investigation. so levi leaves the storefront. gets on the cell phone, calls him and says, hey, look, i just saw this car running, i'm going to grab it and bring it over to you. he never shows that night. but levi comes back and actually tells the story to the undercover detectives. >> i was waiting for my ride at
7-eleven to show up, and i thought, i'll just take it somewhere for a while, you know what i'm saying, and [ bleep ] caught up to me at the light. >> where? how did you get it what happened? around here somewhere? >> yeah, but it wasn't around -- he didn't park in front of the front door, left it all the way down like a lane, the last lane. so i thought, 250, diesel, hmmm. >> so you went and jumped in it? >> yeah. >> how did he catch you? someone else's ride? >> yeah. >> the story goes, the owner comes out, grabs him, tosses him away from the car and gets his car back. >> and runs up on -- and wow. [ bleep ]. >> so he puts it in park. >> so levi never gets the stolen car and obviously never able to bring it in to sell it in the fencing operation. and levi won't be making any more trips to the fake storefront. when the cops shut it down, they scoop levi up and put him behind bars. coming up.
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when the cops shut down the storefront in one big sweep, vegas pd rounds up the suspects. >> do you have anything sharp on you? >> no. >> and we set up shop to interview as many of them as we could. >> chris hanson with "dateline" nbc, how are you doing? some who were so bold and brash in the video at the front are a little less so when i talk to them in jail. >> it tears you up inside. >> and what got them here. many say drugs. >> chris hanson with "dateline" nbc. >> hi. >> why don't you have a seat?
when i go to talk to levi in the jail, he clearly does not know that i know what i know. so he immediately starts lying. basically what happened is, they had a situation. >> okay. >> where people came to undercover detectives with stolen cars, guns, all kinds of things. >> okay. >> and we have it that you surfaced in the investigation. that you showed up six times or thereabouts with something like seven stolen vehicles. is that possible? >> um, that's not possible. but i have a possibility of what you're talking about. i know what you're talking about. >> you know what i'm talking about? >> yes, sir. >> but it's not possible? >> no, it's not possible. i was there, but it wasn't the vehicles that i stole. it was vehicles that other people had stolen that i might have been there with them to take the vehicle. >> i see. >> to the people that had -- >> -- wanted to buy them? >> yeah.
>> but you also told these guys that there had been times when you actually stole vehicles. >> no. >> you found keys on the floor of a garage. picked them up and took the car. >> they -- >> they? >> whoever i was with found the keys. >> but you were there. yes, sir. >> okay. you didn't say oh, no, don't do that, that's an illegal act, that's a felony. >> no. >> you let them go ahead and steal the car. did you ride in the car with them? >> i have rode in one once or twice. i have never actually picked up the keys, stepped on the ignition and took the car myself. >> never, ever. >> no. ever, ever, once. >> not once. >> ever, once. >> now, that's interesting, because you actually show up in this investigation selling stolen cars. >> selling stolen cars. i wasn't selling stolen cars. >> you weren't selling stolen cars? >> no, sir. >> you think it's funny? >> i don't think it's funny at all. really. i don't think it's funny. >> because here's the thing. during that investigation, hidden cameras and microphones were running the whole time.
and i have a video i would like you to see, if you would like to look at it. >> yes, sir. >> okay. >> what happened? >> i was waiting for my ride at 7-eleven and i was going to take it somewhere for a while, you know what i'm saying and [ bleep ]. and i was driving, and he caught up to me at the light. >> where? how did you get it, what happened? now, levi, that does not look good, does it? >> no. >> how would you describe what you just saw? >> like i was glorifying something that had happened. >> you were glorifying something that had happened. >> yeah. >> the theft of a car. >> it's -- i mean -- >> you make it sound like you're the one who is stealing all the cars. i'm just saying what it sounds like from seeing the tape. and hearing the audio. >> you probably see that. it's probably because -- but in my mind, when i was -- what i was doing is, was probably the least amount of crime in which i thought was the least amount of crime. was like i -- i had people come to me with the stolen car.
they would call me up with the stolen car, and i would call them with the car that was stolen and i would call them and go to them. >> so this is just puffery, pounding your chest and making it look like you're a bad guy and tougher than maybe you were? >> something like that. >> or more serious criminal than you were? >> i'm not saying i'm not a criminal. i'm not playing for any of this. but i could say yeah. >> now, you also talk about being up in a tree, working as a tree trimmer. and looking into somebody's house, and seeing car keys. going in the house, getting the car keys, and stealing the car. was that just bs? >> that was just bs. >> why would you say it then? >> i don't know. >> why does somebody admit to a felony? if they didn't really do it? >> a lot of the time, it was bs. like, oh, we're going to bring you the cars, we're going to be right here. >> but what wasn't bs, though, is that you, you know, put together seven deals to sell stolen automobiles, right?
>> just like as long as -- with them, i did. >> yeah. >> yeah. >> yeah. seven times. >> yeah. >> how much money did you get for all this stuff? >> i would get a percentage, maybe 50 bucks a car. >> 50 bucks a car? >> maybe. i mean, i wouldn't -- >> was it worth it? >> no. i mean, i didn't steal a car, so i mean -- >> well, i know, but -- if you helped sell something that's stolen and you know it's stolen, you're still on the hook. it's a felony. you get that, right? >> i guess. now. but, yeah. >> did you ever think that maybe you should get some new friends, levi? >> yes, sir. >> it doesn't seem like this group is doing you very much good. >> it's just a group who i spoke to -- i mean, it's the drugs, it's the crystal meth. >> crystal meth. >> it's getting high, it's doing -- being high, doing drugs. doing it all. >> how often before going into jail this time did you smoke crystal meth? >> i was high at the time. >> you were high at the time? >> yes, sir.
and, you know, since i've been in jail this last time, i realized that being high and doing drugs, doing it all, every time i've been arrested or every time i've been in trouble, or anytime i've ever done anything that wasn't good, that doing drugs, doing dope, is related into that effect. that's when i would be -- >> tempted to get into trouble. yes, sir. >> what's your plan? what are you going to do now? >> i guess i'm going to be going to prison. so i have no plan now. nothing i can do. >> levi pleads guilty to several charges, including burglary and possession of a stolen vehicle. he is sentenced to 6 to 19 years in jail. i asked the las vegas sheriff, when people see these undercover investigations, what the takeaway should be? he told me that he wanted the public to know that his officers are out there being proactive, being creative, and trying to stay one step ahead of the cunning criminals that prowl the city.