News & Opinion | July 25, 2018 5:00 am

Spyros Enotiades Captures Criminals For the D.E.A. By Playing Them

He's an actor who specializes in roles like cartel boss or money manager.

(Getty Images)
Getty Images

Spyros Enotiades is a confidential source for the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration who specializes in the role of cartel boss, middleman or money manager in sting operations. Operations like those are often criticized for inducing targets to commit crimes, but The New Yorker writes that the D.E.A. has relied on them in its global war on drugs ever since the agency was opened in 1973.

“Nothing has been more effective than somehow penetrating a criminal organization and having an individual who can engage the organization firsthand and ideally develop evidence firsthand,” Randall Jackson, a former federal prosecutor who is now a criminal-defense attorney in a New York law firm, said to The New Yorker. 

Enotiades is a D.E.A. favorite because of his “worldly ways” and because he has a knack for “putting people at ease.” He is Cypriot, with a background in “pharmaceuticals and night clubs.” He is 72-years-old, has an aching hip and has suffered three strokes. He cares little about his heart condition and eats whatever he wants while smoking two packs of cigarettes a day. He is fluent in English, French, German, Italian, Spanish, and Greek and over the past thirty years, has become one of the D.E.A.’s longest-serving and most successful confidential sources. He has participated in dozens of investigations targeting narcotics and weapons traffickers around the world.

“He’s got huge balls,” said Louis Milione, a former supervisor in the D.E.A.’s Special Operations Division who retired last year but oversaw many of Enotiades’s operations. “He can command a room.”