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How do Mr. Big sting operations work

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How do Mr. Big sting operations work
WATCH: A Mr. Big sting operation was ruled admissible in a recent Sask. murder trial – but what are they and how do they work? Meaghan Craig explains – Oct 26, 2018

It’s a tactic used by law enforcement to get suspects to confess to major crimes like murder. The technique is known as a “Mr. Big” sting and it’s exactly what was used to lay charges against Joseph “David” Caissie who is suspected of killing Carol King.

For upwards of eight weeks, a Saskatoon courtroom heard during Caissie’s first-degree murder trial that it took to finally lay charges in the case.

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An undercover operation named “Operation Falbedo” targeted Caissie, who was the prime suspect from the onset but there was never enough evidence to arrest him.

That is until Caissie confessed to murdering King to undercover agents during the sophisticated sting that actively ran from Jan. 20, 2016, to July 19, 2016 – the day Caissie was taken into custody.

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“The danger is they can generate a false confession and that is certainly something we are suggesting to the court,” Caissie’s lawyer Kevin Hill said.

Carol King in 2011. File Photo

During a Mr. Big sting, officers will pose as criminals in an attempt to get a confession from a suspect. Over time, the individual is asked and paid to do tasks for the fictitious criminal organization as undercover officers slowly and secretly gain the person’s trust.

In most Mr. Big stings, these encounters will lead up to a meeting with the crime boss. At that point, the individual is asked to confess anything that could require a cover-up and in exchange they’ll be permitted to join the criminal organization.

During closing arguments, Hill argued that the physical evidence from the initial investigation into King’s death didn’t match what Caissie told undercover police.

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“This is a financial vulnerable person who was lured with significant financial incentives, upwards of $50,000, conform with a gangster culture and was encouraged to suggest he had killed somebody,” Hill said.

“At the end of the day that kind of confession that cast doubt on whether it’s truthful or not.”

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In 2014, the Supreme Court of Canada ruled that Mr. Big stings could be abusive and elicit unreliable confessions and threw out the confession of a Newfoundland man, who admitted during a sting to drowning his daughters.

“People forget about the other things the Supreme Court said about Mr. Big operations or as the police prefer to call them ‘major crime technique’ and that is that they are one of the most valuable investigative tools to solve crimes just like the one we had here,” senior Crown prosecutor Matthew Miazga said.

Miazga added that the technique was developed by Canadian officers and that the bulk of the testimony and arguments in the Caissie case surrounded whether the statements should be admissible.

On Oct. 17, in a 160-page ruling, a judge ruled the statements would be applied to the trial and worthy of consideration while rendering a verdict.

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“Cases like this without this approach would never go unsolved, the Douglas Hales case was another,” Miazga said.

“There’s many of these cases in this province and literally hundreds across the country where cases would have never been solved but for the use of this technique.”

In many cases, the locations of the remains of those missing and murdered is disclosed during the sting bringing closure to a family beyond a conviction.

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