Infiltrator’s tale of danger in ‘Gangland Undercover’
“I was blown away by how accurate it was,” says gang infiltrator Charles Falco of the History miniseries “Gangland Undercover” in a phone interview. The docu-drama, airing Friday night at 11, tells the story of the informant, whose efforts helped the FBI dismantle outlaw biker gangs.
Falco, whose current whereabouts are known only to some law enforcers, describes the reenactment of real-life events as precise: “The director and executive producer… spent a lot of time with me, going over my investigations and what occurred, my emotions and how I felt when I was doing it. He was really able to relay that to Damon Runyan, the gentleman who’s playing me. And Damon just blew me away; he was able to portray my emotions.”
Being undercover required him to compartmentalize his feelings, which helped get difficult missions done. “That’s one of the hardest parts,” he relates. “I’m a religious man. I spent a lot of time in prayer, and [asking] God [for] help, to keep true to who I am. The investigations always took precedence over my emotions… So I was always looking at what I was trying to obtain, instead of the emotional roller coaster I was going through. I tried to separate myself from what I was doing and not overly connect with anybody, and not get too emotionally attached, because during the investigations, these guys are dying left and right. They get shot; they die in motorcycling accidents. I went to funerals at least once a month.”
Falco says that he learned about the power of fear during his time with the gangs: “The thing that was kind of sad to see was that how much respect you get when people fear you. I wish we respected each other like that without having to be scared of the person. When I ran into civilians while I was wearing [a gang] patch, people were way more polite to me; they were opening doors for me.”
He was, however, surprised by the order in gang culture. He relates, “We think of them as party animals who are out to have fun, and those guys weren’t like that at all. They were very structured like the military.”
Falco says that getting out of the groups wasn’t up to him, but the agencies covering his operations: “After the last one, I felt I was done… kind of wiped out. I got seriously hurt in that last investigation. I had no problem walking away from doing that type of work.”
Having seen the first two episodes of the six-part series at the time of the interview, the former operative says he was affected by the violent scenes: “The violence is very sad. I saw so many beatings in bars where these [gang members], six of them, would beat up one guy.
“And it was just so brutal and disgusting. I still have nightmares about those beatings. They were innocent victims. I’m thinking, that guy is getting beat up, and I’m going to get these guys for that guy. So I felt that I was the advocate to have retribution for what they’re doing to our society and the innocent victims.”
On letting History tell his tale, Falco says it’s “absolutely the perfect network.” He explains, “I knew they would keep it as authentic as possible. And that was so important to the story,
because we really wanted to relay the truth. And History Channel is really about relaying true history. I didn’t really have any stipulations. Once I met the producer and the crew, I knew it was going to be great in their hands.”
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‘The Odd Couple’
Matthew Perry stars in the new sitcom “The Odd Couple,” airing on RTL CBS Entertainment every Friday, 9:55 p.m. Perry plays Oscar Madison, an endearing slob who becomes roommates with uptight neat freak Felix Unger (Thomas Lennon).