Illicit, professional contraband dealer

These are the guys who will deal in anything that is illegal and can turn a profit.  The classic hustler who sold fake Rolex watches from a trenchcoat and moved up to selling guns from the trunk of a car.  Or maybe he is the guy at the end of the bar in the hick town who locals know they can get "certain things from".  Contraband dealers tend to frequent places where one might expect to find other sorts of contraband.  Since guns and ammunition usually originate in places where they are legitimate goods, they migrate to place where they are in demand regardless of intervening laws.   Look for the modes of transport and you will find those who broker the goods.  Near ports, train stations, small airports and truck stops.  Someone will know a little about what passes through and who might be dealing in it.   Every city of any significance anywhere will have black marketeers of some sort plying their trade.   The trick is usually to hook up with them without being burned in the process of trying to make contact and make a deal.   It is important for the streetwise survivor to learn who these people are and where and how to make contact with them in a given area.   

Expect these characters to be ambiguous rather than direct.  You may never know if you are dealing with the real guy or an intermediary, but that really does not matter much.  If they can deliver the goods, then that is good enough. 

Narcotics are commonly in the circle of contraband dealers.  Narcotics generally pose greater profit for smugglers than dealers because smugglers must calculate the value of cargo to the weight and ease of smuggling.  On the other hand, the contraband dealer looks at the risk to profit ratio of each transaction.  A dealer must risk himself several times to conduct ten worth small cocaine sales in order to secure $500 to $1,000 in profit.  Of those transactions, most are to psychologically unstable drug addicts who may turn hostile at any time.  The drug addict also has several opportunities to turn in his supplier.   Also, the dealer often has to establish some sort of relationship with the buyer in order to justify and verify the quality of the goods warrants the price.   Thus not all contraband dealers look at transactions as strictly a profit issue.   Quite often, they specialize a bit and decide to stay out of certain lines of merchandise, which may be considered the "turf" of a potentially vindictive rival.  

The contraband gun dealer on the other hand can show goods to a stranger where the quality is usually self evident.  If it looks, feels and takes down like an UZI then it probably is an UZI - probably.   Remember that gun dealers; legal or illegal, will be highly concerned with security.  They do not want their goods used against them.

Contraband gun dealers exist in a world of trust.  If the merchandise is bad, there is hardly any recourse for warranty work.  A reputation eventually get out and thus has some influence on how the transaction is to be done.  Savvy dealers and buyers can generally arrange for weapons to be tested, but then again, some weapons simply cannot be tested by every prospective buyer.  For example, you should not expect to be able to test one disposable rocket launcher if you are in the market for only one. 

Check around about a dealer if you can.  Be very subtle and ambiguous if you have to.  Nobody wants to do business with a blabber mouth.  Find out if anybody got burned by the guy.  Find out if they guy has been busted recently and is working as an informer.  Find out if he is associated with any groups.  Remember though, if you are asking questions, more people will know of your business with the dealer. 

My experience and observation is that these general rules are about the same anywhere on the planet when you are buying black market weapons.   Whether it is a back alley in Chicago, a weekend market day in some Balkan village, or some rain soaked park by the rail terminal in the seedy side of London, it is all about the same.  Much of this is simple procedure and body language, so actual fluency in a spoken language may not even be relevant to the deal.   

Some general rules in conducting business with a contraband dealer:

1.Avoid going alone and have armed backup.-Hopefully you can get away with dealing this way, but sometimes the contraband dealers will simply refuse to make contact unless they feel fully secure in the meeting.   It is a judgment call on how far you want to trust one of these characters.   Generally, diplomacy and security are a delicate balance in any illegal or potentially illegal transaction.  

2. Show the money so they know you mean business.  Nobody really enjoys wasting their time with a loser or someone who is just browsing, money talks, bullshit walks.   Flash the cash and they will most likely treat you like a real buyer, not some jerk-off who wants to pretend to be a player.   Note that you will get better results showing money than you will showing a fancy car or clothes.   The gun runner knows you will probably not trade him your car for anything and he does not want your clothes, he wants money.   

3. Show weapons so they know you mean business.   Nobody likes being bullied in a deal or being ripped off, and robbers really prefer not to fight even if they have a high chance of winning.   Going into a deal where you can't go running to the cops if you get burned means you are on your own for security.   Better to just show you have something to back you up than pulling some shitty attitude like a bluffer.   This does not mean pointing or threatening anyone, just diplomatically but realistically showing you are for real.   This can even sometimes be done in the context of offering a possible trade.   Also, wheeler dealer "gun guys" have something of an unwritten rule not to sell weapons to someone who does not already have some.   People sometimes get weird when they go from unarmed to armed, but if the dealers see that you are already armed, they figure your disposition is not going to get unpredictable if they give you weapons.   On the other hand, if they meet you unarmed, how can they tell how you can handle being armed once they do the deal with you?   You will get more mileage out of showing that you have weapons in a class equal to or better than what you are buying.   

4. If you kill the business contact, the deal is probably not going to get anywhere.  Obviously, you may have decided ahead of time what to do if a deal all of a sudden goes to shit and someone throws down, but also realize that killing someone is probably going to prevent you from ever doing business with them.   You may have to bite your tongue and have patience to make a deal go through.   Note this rule is a two way street.   If they kill you, the business deal and any future business deals die with you.   It can be a smart move to allude to possible or promised future deals with that seller or group of sellers if the deal goes right.   

5. Show the money again so they know you mean business, not a fight.  It is smart to show the money more than once in the process of a deal.   Just a bit of reminder of the rewards this person is in store for when they do straight business with you.   

6. Do not volunteer to disarm.  Again, diplomacy is one thing, but generally, you do not want to volunteer to disarm as an act of good faith unless you have been asked to.   If you disarm after being asked to, you have extended a courtesy and respect and ought to have a little bit of diplomatic leverage because of it (if you are dealing with reasonable people).   

7. If you feel like you are in danger, you probably are.  There can be a good chance that your senses or your subconscious has figured something out that your conscious mind is putting back.   If something does not feel right, consider cutting the deal off and leaving.   

It is reasonable for the dealer to expect you to disarm before entering a neutral place or his space to do the deal, but it is not reasonable to let his people hold your weapons for you.  You are at great risk if this is a condition of doing business.  

In bigger money transactions, a representative of the seller disarms and goes to the representative of the buyer who is holding the money.  The buyer (or a representative) disarms and goes to the seller (or a representative).  The buyer and maybe an assistant will inspect the goods.  The sellers representative and the buyers representative count the money.  The buyer and the seller agree on the value of the goods the the buyer may leave with the goods when the seller is satisfied that his representative is safe with the money.  Obviously, all of the intermediaries involved expect to be compensated for their efforts so in many cases, you can get better prices by cutting out the intermediaries.   You also can reduce the number of people with knowledge of the transaction by cutting out intermediaries, so one valid tactic is to offer to pay the person for an introduction to their contact.    

A variation of this is a deal where the buyer stashes the money in a hidden location lets say, the trunk of a car that is being guarded by a person hidden nearby.  The buyer then goes to the seller and checks out the goods.  The buyer then tells the seller that the money is nearby.  Have the seller put the guns in a bag or box then follow the buyer to where the money is hidden. Give the seller the money then go your separate ways.  The object of the game is to ensure that if they kill you, they don't get your money (the fourth rule).

If the deal is to be done in a building, realize that any radio or cell phone you have may not transmit out of the building.  There are few good reasons to lose contact with your people and a prelude to a rip-off will be isolating you from anyone who can help you out of a jam.     If you go to the deal alone, it might be smart to allude to the fact that others have an idea where you went and who you met rather than assuring them that you are alone and nobody knows where you are.   It is a delicate balance, because some people will take it as a possible snitch situation.   

Now the other thing is when both you and the other party in the deal already have an established trust and can relax a bit.   You may want to do some smaller deals and build up to where you really want to be with these guys gradually.   Chances are they would feel more comfortable that way also.    The risky side of it is if the deals are routinely illegal, each one could lead to a bust or a rip-off, but then each one is usually a better step toward trust with the person.   

If trust is established, either through personal experience or reputation, you may encounter some unusual but realistic conditions of certain transactions.   Black market dealers often do not have the items in their possession, they just have "contacts" with those items available, and actually obtaining the item will require anything from a cash deposit to payment in full up front before  even he can get the goods.   Their reputation among people they deal with or know and the degree of trust they have is the actual value of a black market dealer's efforts, and he will likely guard this information by not willingly disclosing details about his sources and contacts.    This is normal, and in many cases the black market dealer will simply lie about it to help you feel better by telling you what he hopes you want to hear.    On this note, your contact is just the intermediary, but as long as the result is that you get a fair and safe deal, it does not matter.   What can be a problem, and is often a sign that the person is untrustworthy is when they are equally vague or dishonest about the actual merchandise.   That makes it a real exercise in people reading.    E.G., you probably will need to tolerate some lies and evasiveness about the actual source and location of the items because the black market dealer considers that to be security related information.   On the other hand, you are not obligated to tolerate lies or evasiveness about the specifics of the merchandise, its condition, or what actual items are included in the deal.   

See also Smuggler



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