Wednesday, August 22, 2012
Going undercover to help capture cocaine drug smugglers, trying to save an apparel company from bankruptcy and holding his family together at the same time are a few of the many adventures that Hixson author David Uren experienced firsthand.
His personal experiences come together, along with some embellishments, in his first pseudo novel, “Code Name: Hot Rags ... A Marine Vet Joins Forces with the FBI to Save His Company.” The main character, Marine veteran Matt Waters, represents Uren in the book. Not a veteran himself, Uren said he added the military appeal to the book to make the story more compelling.
“If you produce goods in violation of wage and hour laws, the goods you produce are ‘hot’ goods and the government can seize them and auction them off,” said Uren. “The slang term for apparel is ‘rags.’ This is where the name of my book comes from.”
He said while working in executive management for a company that was being investigated for producing hot goods, the FBI asked him to go undercover to catch smugglers using his company’s cargo containers to move drugs across the U.S. border. He said he agreed in order to save his company from Chapter 11 bankruptcy.
“Two guys showed up in my office one day and pulled up their pants legs to display pistols,” said Uren. “They were with the FBI and they suggested I go to Columbia, S.C., to meet with a U.S. attorney. The attorney was a lady that put the fear of God in me. She said, ‘Don’t tell anyone but your attorney about your undercover work.’”
He said that incident resulted in him later helping the FBI and U.S. customs in half a dozen incidents, tracking down drug smugglers from the Dominican Republic, Guatemala and Mexico. The drug dealers were putting cocaine in with clothing from Gerber Children’s Wear, for which Uren was the senior vice president and chief financial officer, in freight containers on cargo ships.
Uren and his boss were cleared of any charges.
One of Uren’s undercover assignments involved diapers imported from Lesoto, where a drug smuggler was arrested for putting cocaine in with the cargo. Uren’s code name for that particular undercover sting was “Diaper Rash.”
The fictitious account of his experiences takes place in five Western Hemisphere countries, taking situations he experienced in his 30 years in the corporate world while working globally in the apparel industry.