Dynamite
Part Four


 
When they got there, the shop was closed. They went into a cafe next door to wait. Unobserved by Wayne were three cars parked within viewing distance, occupied by Gang Task Force members and A.T.F. agents. In the cafe, Wayne told "Sam" that Bert made a few thousand a day "now and then," but depended mainly for his support on his wife's work at the Department of Health, Education and Welfare.
Bert arrived. "Sam" greeted him in the shop and asked him if he had the dynamite. "Another guy is coming over from a cycle shop across town. I just called him," was Bert's reply.
A perfect host for his distinguished visitor from Honolulu, Bert mixed up a few snorts of cocaine. Wayne snorted, then offered some to "Sam," who refused. Bert's brother-in-law Phil joined them and snorted his share. They were big "coke" crystals. "I bought a quarter [of an ounce], and I didn't 'step' on it at all," Bert volunteered proudly in answer to the compliments on the quality of his stuff. "I didn't have a chance to. Michael's got all kinds of stuff. Ounces up the ass!"
That name rang a bell in Wayne's head. "Oh, Michael! Last time he said he was going to check into some pieces."
Bert shook his head. "Who? Michael? Don't buy any pieces from (him) because he's running into problems. He gets mouthy. This guy here with the dynamite does pieces, too. He applied for a job with the Sheriff's Department, but works on motorcycles instead. We met him in Bakersfield. He would come into the city and get tattooed and bring us little goodies. He's going to let you check it out. I told him you were here."
At that moment, the agents staked-out nearby saw a black Buick drive up. A "Hell's-Angels type" got out and entered the shop.
"Al, this is Wayne and Sam," introduced Bert. "Well, show him what you got."
"Oh, you mean he wants to see it?" responded Al, surprised. "You got 15 or 20 minutes? I got to run across town to get the key."
Al exited, drove away, and returned in somewhat less than an hour. The others joined him outside and peered into the front passenger seat of the Buick.
Bert stepped back discreetly. "Well, do your thing, gentlemen."
"Let's take a look," suggested "Sam."
Fourteen sticks of dynamite, nicely packaged, were lodged in a cardboard box on the seat. "Looks refrigerated to me," mused "Sam."
Defensively, Al piped up, "We've been keeping it cool."
"You got the caps?" asked "Sam" in a voice uncharacteristically gruff for a mild-mannered man.
Reaching into his jacket pocket, Al whipped out a plastic Baggie containing two electric blasting caps. "Yeah, there are two caps left."
Counting the contents of the box, "Sam" queried: "Are there 14 [sticks] in here? These hot or anything? I'm not going to be using this stuff for commercial purposes."
Al verified the number and told "Sam" the dynamite sticks were from out of state. "Oh yeah, I hear you. I hear you. These come from about 2,000 miles from here."
"Sam" stroked his chin, looking very much like a shrewd Chinese shopper. "What do you want for this?"
"A hundred and 50 dollars," chimed Al.
"Sam" forked over the money with "There's a one and a 50," and took custody of the dynamite. The purchases were transferred to the trunk of his car.
Al accepted the money with "Thanks a lot."
After Al's departure, several obscure remarks passed between Wayne and Bert about a misunderstood price, which quickly passed into an appraisal of the state of the dynamite.
"How many sticks was there?" Wayne asked "Sam" for confirmation.
"You know, 14," answered "Sam." "It looked like they were sweating, but they weren't. They kept it refrigerated."
Bert looked a trifle concerned. He wanted this deal to go perfectly. "Sweating, are they? 'Cuz that's what he was worried about. (Al) said the guy was sweating because he didn't know if they were sweating or not. He didn't want to get 'em in too hot weather or something. I don't know. They can't be too hot?"
"Sam" looked at his watch. "No, not really. We got to get going."
On the way back to San Francisco, Cornell Lee asked Wayne who Al was. "Do you know him?"
"Yeah. Bert met him in Bakersfield. One time there was this bikers' convention, and Bert went down there to do tattoos...that's where he met him. That was over a year ago...He's real mellow."
Then Wayne offered advice on the dynamite: "You have to use a half a dozen at one time to make it good."
"Don't worry; it ain't going to be kept around," commented Lee with a professional air.
"Yeah, in fact," continued Wayne, "the best way is to bury it in the sand. You have to wrap it around a pipe to make it more powerful."
Lee smirked. "It won't be kept that long!"
Wayne glanced slyly at his friend. "Am I going to read it in the newspapers?" Visions of Waikiki in ruins.
Lee shrugged nonchalantly. "I don't know."
Wayne fed other information to Lee on the way home, but not until they were driving into San Francisco did he loosen up again about his boys.
"You'll be back in two or three weeks, Sam? I'll ask around what's happening."
"I may want to talk to a couple of your boys next time."
"O.K.," agreed Wayne, "I'm slowly establishing a higher echelon in my system. Right now I have an army that can be used as runners, but they wouldn't understand anything complicated."
"Do you extort the bars in Chinatown?"
"The bars in Chinatown are too hot. We are working on something else right now. Forget about Chinatown. No one can control it. Too many fucking informers. Too many snitches on both sides. It's a dirty game in Chinatown. Can't trust anyone down there ever since Golden Dragon. White people got hurt. No way anyone can control Chinatown."
Lee zeroed in. "Why did Golden Dragon happen? I would think that too much heat would be put on your people."
Wayne sighed. "(The tension) was building up to that point. Because the people were imported, they thought differently...They picked the wrong people. It was a very political job. What was being said was: 'O.K., you want to get tough, we will get crazy. You can't fight craziness. Craziness is strength. It is effective. One minute you control, the next you don't. We destroy what you have so you have nothing.' I never bully my people around. They know when I mean business."
Lee dropped Wayne off at Sansome and Vallejo Streets on the edge of Chinatown. "Keep in touch with Bert," Lee said, "and see what's happening."
An informant reported to Tim Simmons that Wayne was passing remarks on January 30th about having established a Hawaiian connection for certain activities. It would thus appear that his faith in Cornell Lee was complete.
On his next trip back from the islands, Lee introduced Wayne to the Asian contact he had chosen to represent him locally in the future on certain occasions. The introductions took place in the lobby of the Sheraton at the Wharf on February 8, 1978. Afterward, Lee drove them to Sinbad's Pier 2 Restaurant on San Francisco's Embarcadero, the wide boulevard that fronts the Bay and includes Fisherman's Wharf and the shipping docks and terminals among its many other fascinating features.
At the restaurant, Lee informed Wayne that his friend had been a very good worker for him in Honolulu and was now expected to prove himself in San Francisco. Wayne, happy to have a new colleague, and a Chinese one at that, agreed to hold up his end by pushing Bert and also other people to find items for sale.
Then Wayne confided in them he was tired of being poor, that he had an appointment with some bankers to get funds to open up a disco. He was still a bit disturbed, however, because the cops didn't like him. "It's because of my position in the gang...I'm right under Joe Fong. They want to frame me, but they're unsuccessful because I'm too powerful politically. But I have to stay out of the limelight with regards to any type of trouble."
Wayne remained blissfully unaware that Lee's "friend" was a Drug Enforcement Agency agent named Mel Young. Two days previously, a meeting had been held to brief Young on his undercover role in dealing with Wayne and Bert. Present were members of the Gang Task Force and the A.T.F., as well as two other D.E.A. agents, Lionel Stewart and Lowery Leong.
Cornell Lee had been there, too. So effective was his cover that the records of that meeting refer to him only as "Sam Lee," whereas all the other agents are identified correctly. For all practical purposes, he actually became the fictitious "Sam" whenever he stepped off the plane from Honolulu.
The meeting stressed to Mel Young his goals in this operation, in the order of their importance: the pursuit of the Golden Dragon case; the purchase of weapons; the purchase of narcotics. It was also emphasized, for the benefit of the A.T.F. and the D.E.A., that the case was being handled by the San Francisco Police Department, which had the final say in all transactions. The S.F.P.D. had made that point clear, by means of the Gang Task Force, from the beginning to avoid future confusion with any who offered assistance.
The goals relative to Wayne and Bert in the Golden Dragon affair, however, were about to be shuffled where the Task Force was concerned.
Cornell Lee came again to San Francisco in the third week of February 1978. During his drive back to San Francisco from the dynamite purchase on January 26th, he had suggested to Wayne that he might want to meet some of his boys. This time he confirmed it.
Lee told Wayne he wanted to meet a carefully selected group of three or four people capable of traveling to Hawaii to make an important hit. Wayne accepted the challenge. Arrangements were made for him to bring them to the Sheraton at Fisherman's Wharf on the evening of February 22nd.
A surveillance web was spun to welcome the boys into Lee's parlor at the Sheraton. It was not as professional as it ought to have been. A television camera installed behind the screen of the room's TV receiver proved capable, unfortunately, of scanning only in a beeline directly in front of the set. The disadvantage of such an installation would not be realized until later, amid law-enforcement's cries of frustration at not being to see anybody on the tape who had sat or stood outside that limited range. A concealed tape recorder backed up the video tape with sound.
Surveillance of Wayne Yee's activities had begun earlier in the day, a joint effort of the Force and A.T.F. At 5:45 P.M., Wayne was seen walking toward his home on Vallejo Street with a young Oriental. Before they entered the residence, they cast furtive glances in all directions. The Force's Leon Crouere and A.T.F.'s Joyce Seymour, wondering why Wayne hadn't arrived by car, searched the neighborhood. They soon found his red 1975 Mercury parked two blocks away with a flat tire.
After dark, three more young men arrived in a blue Dodge Charger and entered Wayne's house. They too looked around cautiously before stepping inside.
At 7 o'clock, A.T.F.'s Jim Smith contacted the stake-out unit and advised that "Sam" was about to make a call from the Sheraton to Wayne Yee. Twelve minutes later, he radioed them again to say that the call had been completed. "The subjects will be leaving momentarily," he stated.
Eight minutes passed before three of the five subjects seen to enter emerged from the house. One of them appeared to be Wayne, but it was too dark to tell. Again, they surveyed the terrain. One walked to the Dodge Charger and drove back to pick up the other two.
A different set of agents saw them arrive and park on Mason Street beside the Sheraton a few minutes later. Two of the three occupants of the car went to the trunk, opened it, then closed it. All three went into the hotel and made their way to Cornell Lee's suite. A fourth subject also entered the suite, but none of the agents had seen him go into the hotel.
 

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2000 Brockman Morris