SMUGGLING Part I: Where contraband comes from

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Date: Thu Jul 12 05:55:31 2012 PDT
IC Date: Mon Nov 10 03:33:06 2414
Stardate: 91858.85

A special series by investigative journalist Amalie Pentrose

Pacifica (INW) - Here on the water world of Pacifica, we meet up with a smuggled goods trader. He asked that we not use his real name, so we'll call him Eric. Eric runs a small trade operation and used to trade in legitimate goods but he admits that the illegal stuff is just too good to pass up.

"I can make five to ten times the money by hauling weapons or drugs. It's usually a pretty easy pickup and delivery-- these people aren't asking me a lot of questions or harassing me about docking proceedures," Eric, whose face and voice are altered to protect his identity, tells a video camera.

Erik finds leads through his extensive network of fellow traders. The day we met, he had just talked with a cargo operator on Pacifica's Septri Island who heard of a load of weapons being transported from an independent space station on the outskits of GA space not far away. Erik and his crew leave for the secretive station as soon as possible. Lucrative hauling contracts like these won't last long and so speed is essential.

Once on the station, Erik has no trouble docking up and electronically initiating the cargo transfer.

"These people aren't interested in meeting up, usually. Sometimes, yeah, they'll want to check you out and make sure you're not an undercover op or anything, but usually it's just pay and go."

Yes, pay-and-go. Erik puts down a hefty deposit for the weapons he just picked up. That's a guarantee that he'll either have to deliver the weapons to the final buyer or be out several million credits. Also, if Erik fails to bring the weapons to the buyer, he could be out a lot more than money.

"They'll send ships after you, they could refuse to sell to you next time, they could kill a member of your crew to send you a message-- you have to play by their rules."

Erik doesn't know exactly where these weapons have come from, but it's clear they're technology that is outlawed inside of the Galaxy Alliance, Romulan Empire, and other governed areas. Erik opens one of the crates to show INW.

"See, these are stamped with this mark. These are from an Indy weapons manufacturer. These are Consortium." Erik puts the lid back on and seems nervous now. "We should go. We shouldn't stay around any longer than we need to."

The 'Consortium' Erik spoke of, he wouldn't talk about any further on camera, but later tells our reporter that they run or have a hand in most of the illegal cargo that runs through GA space. The Consortium manufactures its own products, weapons, technology, ships, drugs, and sells them on the black market. The Consortium then gets these independent stations to distribute the goods to traders, like Eric, who will eventually deliver the goods to the end buyers or to another middle man.

In the next installment of our SMUGGLING series, we'll show INW viewers how traders traverse GA space and evade Starfleet border patrol vessels to deliver goods to buyers.

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