On September 16, 2008, Carl Pike, the deputy head of the Drug Enforcement Administration’s Special Operations Division, watched live video feeds from a command center outside Washington, D.C., as federal agents fanned out across dozens of U.S. cities. In Dallas, a team in SWAT gear tossed a flash-bang grenade into a suburban home and, once inside, discovered six pounds of cocaine behind a stove, and a stockpile of guns. At a used-car dealer’s house in Carmel, Indiana, agents pulled bricks of cocaine from a secret compartment in his Audi sedan, while state troopers dragged a stove-size safe onto the lawn and went at it with a sledgehammer.
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