Shock twist in cop’s undercover heroin drug sting



Watching as a 14-year-old boy injected his first shot of heroin was one of the most painful moments of Keith Banks' life. 

He was a police officer - but he couldn't do anything to intervene. 

Worse, Banks had played a role in the drug-deal that had made the heroin available.

He was at the start of his career as an undercover cop, feeling his way in the drug scene, and he used a female intermediary to set up deals where Banks would buy drugs from dealers as part of a sting.

"As one of my targets, she would take a pinch - a taste, she called it, of heroin for each deal that she set up for rme. I'd give her money; she'd organise the deal. But part of her consideration was taking the taste which formed (her) payment."

In this instance, she used some of her share to inject the boy with his first shot of heroin, the fiendishly addictive drug that destroyed so many lives. 

For Banks, that's the most dreadful part. 

"I kept track of him and he died of a heroin overdose when he was 18," Banks reveals in an exciting new episode of hit podcast I Catch Killers with Gary Jubelin.




"It really affected me greatly; the powerlessness to intervene, because had I intervened, I would have blown the cover. I was (playing) a heroin dealer. What would I care about someone using?"

Banks went on to become Queensland's most highly decorated policeman, winning awards for extraordinary bravery in dealings with armed offenders. He details his amazing journey in his new book Drugs, Guns and Lies: My Life as an Undercover Cop, which is in bookstores now. 

But his early years as an undercover in the drug scene scarred, and terrified, him. He had guns pointed at his head, became embroiled in physical fights and had a terrifying encounter with a senior mafia figure who threatened to kill him and his family - but even routine interactions saw Banks struggle to maintain his cover story. 


Gary Jubelin and former undercover cop Keith Banks. Picture: Brett Costello
Gary Jubelin and former undercover cop Keith Banks. Picture: Brett Costello

On one occasion he went home with a young lady with whom he'd chatted about his (invented) childhood in Cairns, where she'd also grown up. By the time he'd got to her house, Banks - a boy from the outback - had forgotten that he'd mentioned it. 

"So we're back at her place and she's going through yearbooks - and she's gone: 'I can't see you in here.' And that's when I realised: shit. I've told her I've gone to Cairns High School."




Eventually Banks developed multiple techniques for the inevitable situations when his alias was tested. 

"A detective in the drug squad said: 'I'm going to have an informant introduce you as a new pot dealer.' It'd be up to me to decide where I was from. So I'd have a backstory of (growing up) somewhere in Sydney, because I'd been to Sydney a few times and I could talk a little bit about that.

"When someone starts grilling you about your backstory, you've got two choices. You can either try to work through it and convince them, or you can be on the front foot and simply say: 'What the f … do you want to know for?'"





Originally published as Shock twist in cop's undercover heroin drug sting

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