HOWEVER much satisfaction the US Attorney's office might, or might not have obtained from Fok's six-month jail sentence last month, which was cancelled out by the amount of time he spent in prison awaiting trial, the fact remains that the only defendants rounded up in the network of customs stings since 1991 who have done time are those who, like Fok, pleaded guilty and co-operated. In contrast, the jewel in the law enforcers' crown, the one case which went to trial, ended two months ago in a crushing defeat for the authorities - when five Polish businessmen, all former communist officials, were acquitted in the Brooklyn court of conspiracy to sell a US$100 million arsenal of guns, missiles and fighter planes to Iraq. In trying to piece together Fok's story, the trail can in part be traced back from that sensational trial. And the man at the centre of it all is the ringleader, who helped agents enter the world of arms dealing only to cause their years of investigativework to blow up in their face. That man is Ronald Hendron. HENDRON, a California businessman in his early 50s, resembles Fok only in that neither of them really cut the figure of a hard-nosed weapons dealer. A nondescript, slightly edgy man, he was Fok's partner in 1990 and 1991 when both of them were already being tracked by customs men. After Fok was arrested for the AK-47 deal in November 1991, Hendron, on his own, went on to do the deal with the Polish suppliers that eventually led to their trial. Like Fok before him, Hendron turned informer in return for leniency. It is likely that they were informing on each other. But in one of the most bizarre twists of the whole story, Hendron blew the prosecution's case apart earlier this year when he gave lengthy interviews to Polish reporters, one of whom translated Hendron's private memoirs into a book, Arms Trap, that is doing healthy business in Poland, where the trial and acquittal were front-page news for weeks. Furious that Hendron should have inexplicably gone so public before the trial took place, prosecutors have now withdrawn their agreement with him.