To receive a private investigator’s license in New Mexico, an individual must be 21 years old, “of good moral character,” pass the required PI exam and have not been convicted of an offense involving “dishonesty,” “an intentional violent act,” or illegal use or possession of a deadly weapon. Three years previous investigative experience also is required.
For Hamic, that experience derives from a career in law enforcement. A native of Carlsbad, Hamic enlisted as a teenager in the US Army to serve in Desert Storm, but was discharged before he could ship out because of injuries from a car accident. He moved to Albuquerque, where he started in pizza delivery and graduated to real estate sales before he successfully applied to become a Bernalillo County sheriff’s deputy in 1994.
The private investigator is proud of his service, which began with basic patrolling and DWI stops. At 23, he was promoted to detective in the property crimes division, where he says he worked burglaries and white-collar crimes, a gig that forced him to learn how to chase the paper trail.
Hamic met his wife on the force—but when they had their first child in 1998, it became clear they couldn’t both continue in law enforcement. Hamic took a step back. When she became pregnant with twins in 1999, they decided to abandon the field altogether.
After a short stint in medical billing, Hamic applied for his private investigator license.
“I thought I was going to be a gumshoe,” he says, but the best he could find at first were small contracts for running background checks on folks applying to rent apartments. “It felt like a step down,” he says.
Soon he graduated to process serving—delivering court documents, usually summonses—and accepted his first dangerous gig: a contract to serve processes on a motorcycle club involved in a civil suit. He had to hire backup to follow him with a shotgun.
“The first one was easy, but each subsequent one got harder as they called each other to let them know I was coming,” he says. “They set their pit bulls on us.”
In 2002, the Albuquerque Police Department suffered from understaffing and, as a result of an uptick in property crimes, apartment complexes were scrambling for private patrol officers. With a partner, Hamic formed Everest Security and, at one point, he says, more of his men were patrolling the northeast valley of Albuquerque than police officers.
Then, one February night in 2003, one of his men was shot dead while responding to a robbery at the Aztec Village Apartments. The employee and friend, Johnnie Poncho, a member of the Laguna tribe, caught two of the perpetrators, but then a third came up and got him from behind. Poncho’s death took a toll on Hamic and inspired him to develop the combat-training component of his business.
The litigation between Hamic and his business partner Gilbert Herrera between 2004 and 2007 made headlines in Albuquerque: Hamic accused Herrera of fraud and embezzlement, while Herrera accused Hamic of trying to get him drunk in order to cheat him out of his controlling share of the company. The two-year-long case was dismissed in November 2008 and Hamic says he agreed to eat several hundred thousand dollars in tax liens in order to put it behind him.
Now Hamic has developed a small and growing regional empire, with more than 80 employees and operations in Albuquerque, Santa Fe, Las Vegas and Austin. Hamic personally runs combat training courses and says he is negotiating contracts in Guam and Britain.
Lately, though, Hamic says he devotes most of his time to the blog.
“At first, I only had a certain bucket of information, but when I started blogging I also started to develop more information,” Hamic says. “I had people giving me a lot of covert audio that they had taken. My bucket of knowledge was getting bigger and my ability to share it with other people was improving, and there was growing interest, especially in the industry.”
As of May 15, Hamic’s blog was averaging 1,159 page views per day.
The blog may have taken over his life but, according to Hamic, it also threatens it. He has reported to the Albuquerque Police Department 16 threats made against him in the last year and recently told APD he believes he is being followed. According to the emailed response, APD forwarded the reports to the district attorney’s office.
At any given time, Hamic carries two guns—a Kimber .45 with hollow-tipped, full metal jacket bullets, and a 15-shot Glock. He’s a little more “shaken” than in previous months. He changes cars regularly, checks his car for GPS tracking devices and keeps an eye on his rearview mirror in case he’s tailed.
“It’s definitely started laying on me a lot more lately,” he says. “I’ve got all this training and all these skills and I’ve always got a gun, but that doesn’t protect well against a drive-by shooting.”
In December, he moved to Austin, were he lives in a “Mayberry” neighborhood where he hopes his kids will be safe from the true crime story that is his online life in Albuquerque.
But Hamic’s enemies may feel just as bullied by him.