In January 2004 in Fort McMurray, Canada, a man known only as “Ben” enters a nightclub. He’s there not to have a good time, but to meet someone named Dax Richard Mack, the local DJ.
And guess who’s layin’ down some sick beats that night? That’s right. DJ Mack.
After regularly attending the nightclub and working steadily to make an introduction, Ben and Mack become acquainted and get to talking. Ben asks Mack if he’s interested in making some extra money by performing certain “jobs” for an “organization” he “represents.” One such job would be helpful in “repossessing” a car for $200. If Mack would agree to do such a job, he might have some opportunities for future jobs.
Mack, an unemployed father of two struggling to make ends meet, accepted Ben’s offer. And so began months of “jobs” for this “organization,” including breaking and entering, grand theft auto, and robberies. Early in their relationship, Mack mentioned his roommate Robert Levoir, who had been missing for the past two years.
Mack referred to his missing roommate as a “crackhead” and a “drug addict” that had stolen from his kid’s piggy bank. When Ben asked as to where Mack thinks he might be, Mack replied, “as far as I’m concerned, he’s pushing up daisies.”
As the months continued, Ben began to see Mack’s potential to move up in the “organization.” Ben shared with his new protege that he worked for a man only known as “Liam,” a man who “had his fingers into a lot of things.”
In mid-March, Ben believed it was time to take Mack to meet the boss. At Ben’s behest, Mack drove to Vancouver for a meeting with Liam. The two met in an apartment in the city where Liam was quick to bring up Levoir. Liam attempted to ask Mack about the disappearance, but Mack declined to divulge.
When pressed as to why, Mack answered, “loose lips sink ships.”
Mack was free to refuse to share the details of his roommate’s disappearance, Liam said, but that the “organization” would keep Mack on the “third line.” In order to advance to the “first line,” you have to air out all of your dirty laundry. There can’t be any unturned stones. Nothing that can surprise the “organization” down the line.
Still, Mack refused.
And for three weeks, Mack didn’t receive a call for work. When Ben finally did call on April 9, 2004, Mack was ready to “do what it takes” for an opportunity for more work. If that meant sharing the details of Levoir’s disappearance, Mack was ready to share.
Mack admitted that he shot Levoir five times — four times in the chest and once in the back — with a .223 rifle. When Ben asked why he killed his roommate, Mack answered that Levoir was “a liar, a thief, and a piece of shit drug dealer.”
Ben asked where Levoir’s body would be found. But Mack told him that there was “nothing left” of Levoir. Mack had burned his roommate’s body for two days in a firepit on his father’s property. On April 15, in a second meeting with Liam, Mack confirmed all of these details a second time.
Despite quickly recanting everything he just admitted to Ben and Liam, on April 21, Dax Richard Mack was arrested and charged with the first-degree murder of Robert Levoir.
You see, the men only known as Ben and Liam were not actually named Ben and Liam. They were undercover police officers of the Royal Canadian Mounted Police (RCMP), and they were out to obtain a confession from Mack, after receiving a credible tip from an associate of Mack’s, using a method known as Mr. Big.
Mr. Big, also known as “The Canadian Technique,” is a covert investigation procedure used by undercover police to elicit a confession from suspects in cold cases. It was first developed by the RCMP back in the 90s. As of 2008, Mr. Big has been used in more than 350 cases across Canada.
So, what led police to focus in on local Alberta DJ Dax Mack? On December 21, 2002, one month after Levoir is reported missing, Mack confessed his involvement to two friends, Jay Love and Michael Argueta, while drunk at a bar.
Shortly after the confession, Love decided to take what he heard to police. Mack, clearly drunk, told Love that he was his best friend, and asked if he could trust him. Mack then repeatedly told Love that Levoir, “Robbie,” was gone. When Love asked what he meant by “gone,” Mack answered, “Robbie is dead.”
Love asked Mack if he had “outsourced” the killing, to which Mack replied, “no, I did it myself.”
Upon learning this information, police initiated an investigation that would be two-pronged: a wiretap authorization to intercept Mack’s phone calls, and Mr. Big. After four months of undercover investigation, leading Mack through 30 “scenarios” with undercover officers, being paid about $5000 for his work.
At trial, Mack denied killing his roommate, instead arguing that it was Argueta who had committed the crime during a hunt. Despite his efforts, Mack was found guilty of first-degree murder in a unanimous decision by a jury on February 22, 2008. He made an appeal to the Appeals Court of Alberta that was rejected five days later.
Feeling wronged by the Mr. Big sting operation, Mack and his lawyer decided to make an appeal to the Supreme Court of Canada. They argued that the confession elicited as a result of the Mr. Big sting was entrapment and that it created evidence that Mack was of “bad character” in his willingness to go along with criminal activities, effectively prejudicing a jury into believing that he’d be capable of murder.
After reviewing the evidence, it was found that Mack had other work prospects that would have paid more than what “Ben” and “Liam” were offering, that he was not threatened or coerced into participating in the crimes nor into confessing, and that Mack’s confessions to undercover officers matched Mack’s confession to Love and Argueta, never mind the physical evidence recovered that matched his confessions as well.
Mack’s appeal was denied. His guilty ruling was upheld.
One has to wonder though, why was Mr. Big used in this investigation? If Love reported Mack’s drunken confession a month after Levoir was reported missing, why did it take almost two years before the Mr. Big sting went underway?
Why interject into a suspect’s life and alter its trajectory in a potentially harmful manner? What if the suspect is innocent?
Mr. Big, some would argue, is invasive and persistent. Despite being used as a “last resort” in cold cases, there are aspects of Mr. Big that are very troubling. In a world where false confessions and police abuse are rampant, why would you allow police to have that kind of power?
If Mr. Big comes knocking, do you answer?