Authors: C.L. Swinney
“Sounds like bullshit to me. How convenient you just happened to have a sniper rifle with you,” yelled Pierce while shaking his head.
Dix jumped in and calmed down the lieutenant by speaking quietly and keeping him on track.
Nevertheless, Pierce continued to question Petersen and Dix about what they had done and what the current status was of the ordeal. Dix started to feel as though he was being interrogated and he did not appreciate it. He felt himself getting agitated and was close to telling the lieutenant to off and hanging up on him.
Dix told Pierce about the money located in the victim’s car as well as how the two officers and the victim were transported to the hospital in critical condition. He also told Pierce that the victim was being protected by Sheriff’s Deputies until everything could be figured out.
Pierce stated, “Per the chief, you two are on paid administrative leave. You need to cooperate with the local Sheriff’s Office since this is their case. In the meantime, we’ll send the Internal Affairs people out to conduct their investigation.”
Petersen condescendingly responded, “You mean we have to stay in San Diego for an extra week?”
“That’s right Steve,” replied Pierce shortly.
Pierce could sense a tone of arrogance in Petersen’s voice and figured he and Dix would love to stay in San Diego for another week on the police department’s dime. Pierce knew both men very well and figured they would also try to meddle into the investigation while they themselves were being investigated. That was unacceptable for him and the police chief.
Pierce added flatly, “Listen up, you two will not get involved in the Sheriff’s Office’s case. You both are currently under investigation, and I don’t want to get any calls from the locals about some out-of-town sergeants poking around where they don’t belong.”
Dix replied, “Come on Mike, we didn’t do anything wrong and we should be somewhat involved since we saved
the guy the hit men were trying to kill and found thirty million dollars in the victim’s car.”
“I don’t care what you think your roles should be. Shack up in your hotel and have some beers. I’m ordering you not to be involved in their case, period!” Pierce replied sternly.
“What about me?” asked Petersen.
“The same goes for you Steve. Stay out of trouble and let things be.”
Before Dix and Petersen could argue further with the lieutenant he hung up on them. Petersen looked at Dix and noticed he had that look in his eyes that said he was not going to listen to Lieutenant Pierce.
here we go again
, thought Petersen remembering all too well what had happened the last time Dix decided to get involved in a case while on vacation.
Petersen shook his head. “I’m not going to let you or I get involved in this one. We did out part. Let’s chill out for another week, get cleared by the IA people, and fly home.”
“Since when do you listen to what the LT has to say? And you can’t tell me you are not interested in what we were able to prevent today. This is something big,” urged Dix.
Petersen considered his friend’s comments and agreed Dix was correct about his feelings about the lieutenant as well as the case. However, he had just made sergeant and was not about to get in trouble, especially across the country. He had to admit, though, that he was intrigued by the gun battle and the huge amount of money found in the victim’s car. He decided, as usual, he’d follow Dix’s lead and ride this investigation out.
“The locals aren’t going to let us in on this one Bill,” Petersen plead his case.
“I think they will. The way I see it, we gave their two officers a chance to live, rescued the supposed victim, and
found thirty million dollars. I have a feeling they are going to let us play,” Dix answered.
It’s just a matter of convincing the right person we’re useful
, he thought.
The two detectives pulled into the parking lot of their hotel. They were looking forward to washing up and calling back home to let everyone know they were okay. As they drove around to the rear of the hotel they noticed a black Dodge Charger with concealed red and blue lights parked directly beneath the small balcony to their room.
Petersen looked at Dix and smirked. “Wow that was quick. Looks like you nailed it pal.”
Dix pulled into the spot next to the Charger. Two men exited the vehicle wearing business suits. They looked serious and appeared to be waiting for them to exit their vehicle.
The taller of the two men had a grin on his face and stretched out his hand to shake with Dix. “Bill, how the hell are you?” They shook hands and then gave each other a hug.
Dix looked over to Petersen and said, “Steve, meet an old friend of mine and Homeland Security Investigations Group Supervisor, Doug Kovach.”
Petersen stretched his hand out to Kovach and he shook it. “Nice to meet you Steve,” he motioned to the other man, “And this is my best agent, Juan Romero.”
The men exchanged handshakes and informalities. Petersen was amazed at how many contacts Dix had around the country. The fact a boss from Homeland Security Investigations was standing in front of him this quickly meant most likely the large amount of money and the fire fight they were in earlier in the day involved narcotics or cartels, or both.
Here we go again
, thought Petersen.
“Bill, I wish this was a personal visit but I flew in from DC an hour ago, picked up Romero, and headed over here to meet up with you guys. We need to talk about the incident from earlier,” said Kovach.
Dix invited the federal agents up to their room. On the way through the lobby Dix cast an I-told-you-so look at Petersen. Petersen couldn’t help but chuckle out loud.
Raphael woke up to his face being splashed with a pail of ice-cold water. He felt a throbbing pain in the back of his head. Raphael tried to reach his head to inspect the damage, but his hands were bound to the chair he was seated on. His head was covered in a black pillow case and his legs were bound tightly to the chair.
Please let me survive this
, he thought.
Someone ripped the pillowcase off his head, and he found himself blinded by the piercing light. As his eyes adjusted, he could see six men surrounding him. He did not recognize them. Each man was built like a professional football player and was carrying a MP-5 machine gun.
He started to say, “Where is……” before he could say Calderon he was pistol whipped across the face. The pain was unbearable as blood spewed from his lips and mouth. Two of his teeth had been knocked completely out from the blow and landed on the floor near his feet.
Men began punching him repeatedly in the stomach while yelling, “Shut your mouth traitor, we’ll do the talking.”
José Calderon waved his hand to stop the assault on Raphael and slowly walked over to Raphael’s slumping body.
Calderon stood in front of a man that used to be his longtime friend and business partner. Calderon was dressed in a five thousand dollar Armani suit and wearing custom leather shoes with metal tips. A Glock 27 hung from his exposed shoulder harness.
Raphael moaned and wanted to speak, but decided it was best not to say a word based on the beating he just took.
Calderon placed his finger over his lips. “Shhhhhh.”
Raphael was trembling with fear, wondering what unmentionable things Calderon was planning to do to him. He tried to control the shaking but could not. Calderon, a
ruthless killer, was the second in command of the largest sleeper cartel operating in the United States; a position he was born into. He was responsible for at least thirty murders over the last six years. Through his use of despicable and torturous killing techniques, he earned himself the reputation of being someone never to be crossed.
After what felt like an eternity, Calderon finally spoke with cruel authority.
“Raphael, I’m going to give you the benefit of the doubt and
you to answer my questions. If you lie to me, I will torture and kill your brother in front of you.”
Raphael’s eyes opened wide and his aching body tightened as he watched two men drag his brother to the center of the warehouse. Initially he felt relieved that he was alive, but that sense of relief drained quickly. The men hooked Raphael’s brother’s hands and wrists to a pulley and pulled his body upright. Raphael could see his brother was badly beaten and appeared to have been drugged based on the blank glassy look in his eyes.
Calderon snapped his fingers and one of the men retrieved a bucket full of water and splashed it on Raphael’s brother’s face. After a second bucket of water, his brother woke up and immediately began violently thrashing his body in an effort to get away.
The brothers made eye contact with each other as Raphael said feebly, “Brother, stop. I’m sorry. Don’t fight these men.” Slowly, his weakened body stopped thrashing. Raphael’s heart sank from the grief he felt at seeing his brother suffering dearly.
Calderon had the upper hand by using Raphael’s brother as leverage. He mused internally over the fact that he would kill both men after he obtained the information he needed. His true intent was to safeguard the cartel operation, regardless of the cost.
“Raphael, I need to determine the location of my boss’s thirty million dollars and who’s been lying to me. Think carefully, because your response will determine the fates of you and your brother,” stated Calderon. Raphael’s brother’s eyes showed fear and confusion at hearing those words.
The next two or three minutes would be the most harrowing time Raphael would ever know.
After changing their clothes and washing up a bit, Dix and Petersen joined the Homeland Security Investigations (HSI) agents in the small kitchenette in their suite. Petersen cracked open two beers. Dix and Petersen sat down, clanked the beers, and each took a long swig.
Group Supervisor Doug Kovach nervously tapped his fingers. He needed answers. Headquarters was not happy about an informant’s cover being blown or the fact the same informant was now on life support. Nevertheless, Kovach was not prepared to share everything he knew with Dix or Petersen. He’d learned his interview techniques from Dix, so he was confident trying to be coy with the man was not going to work.
Kovach began, “Look, there’s no point in trying to bullshit you guys. Headquarters is all over my ass and I’m in major trouble.”
Dix raised his hand in the air and said, “Doug whatever it is, we can help.” Dix had never seen Kovach so riled up. He wanted to help, but he knew Kovach would not risk comprising an ongoing investigation without a great need to.
Federal agents never did
, he thought.
Kovach continued, “Bill you have no idea what actually happened today and what type of hot water I’m in.” He felt his heart racing and suspected his blood pressure was sky rocketing. Petersen and Romero remained silent as the veterans tried to hash this out.
“I’m not sure why you’re guarding information Doug, but I can assure you Steve and I aren’t the enemy,” Dix replied. He was trying to calm Kovach down and extract information at the same time. “And let’s not forget, you tracked us down.”
Kovach considered asking Petersen and Romero to leave the room so they could speak freely. Truth of the matter was he needed as many people as he could on this to
figure out where the leak was, and what the next move would be.
Kovach looked at the two of them, “Bill, do you and Steve have federal powers?”
Dix answered, “Yes, we’re both currently cross-designated as federal agents as part of our joint agency task force in Florida.” The question confirmed for Dix that Kovach had sensitive information he wanted to share. Dix understood he’d be in even hotter water if he shared classified information.
Kovach seemed to lighten up a bit and shot a reassuring glance toward Romero. Romero just shrugged. Kovach may have felt he was in hot water, but it was Romero who had been assigned to protect Pedro. It was Romero who had lost him the morning of the attack.
Petersen sensed whatever it was Kovach needed to say was not going to be good for anyone in the room. “You have got to be kidding me,” he muttered under his breath while shaking his head. Petersen contemplated walking out, but he didn’t want to leave Dix behind.
Kovach started, “Ok, here’s the deal. It didn’t really matter if you guys had security clearance because this all revolves around Jim Calhoun.”
The mention of Calhoun immediately pissed off Petersen. Dix was also ticked off since Calhoun, a man he thought of as a friend turned out to be a cold blooded killer and narcotic smuggling mastermind. Dix looked over at Petersen and could see that he was visibly upset as he watched his partner roll his eyes and get red in the face.
“Calhoun? What does that asshole have to do with San Diego and thirty million dollars?” Dix questioned furiously.
It was Kovach’s turn to hold his hand in the air to stop Dix.
Kovach responded, “Calhoun has given up extremely
valuable targets in order to convince the federal prosecutors working with the Bohemian government not to seek the death penalty for his crimes.”