Authors: C.L. Swinney
In unison, Petersen and Dix said, “Tell us something we don’t know.”
Kovach raised an eyebrow and replied, “This goes all the way up to the Secretary of Defense.”
Petersen said, “The SOD, what the hell is going on here? We nailed Calhoun in the Bahamas. Calhoun is responsible for multiple murders and for shipping tons of narcotics to the east coast. He should be hung for what he did.”
Dix agreed with Petersen, but realized there was much more to the situation. He convinced Petersen there was no point in focusing on his own frustration when there was something bigger unraveling.
Kovach continued, “It went up to the top because Calhoun has been providing information which has crippled at least two cartels working on the east coast. We now believe the cartels are working directly with terrorist cells operating around the globe and in the United States. The prosecutor in Calhouns’ case wasn’t satisfied with what he was putting on the table, and demanded he give up a major player with international ties. Calhoun mulled the idea for a week and demanded to see, on paper, that he would get life in prison instead of death if he cooperated.”
Even when every chip was stacked against him, Calhoun still managed to work people and the system. Dix wished he would have been able to put a bullet in Calhouns’ head on the tarmac on Andros Island.
Things would be easier had I taken that bastard out.
Dix said, “So the bastard figured out a way to weasel out of what he had coming to him.”
“It would seem that way,” replied Kovach.
Petersen asked, “So Calhoun is giving up great targets, how does that involve the shooting today?”
Unfortunately, Kovach did not have all the answers. The fact remained that he and Romero were standing on the front line with the weight of this disaster on their shoulders. He was confident there would be some way to save both of their careers if he could convince Dix to help.
Kovach answered, “Calhoun gave up a suspected Mexico cartel with ties to Canada, Afghanistan, Thailand, and China, which was unknown even to us. These guys are distributing cocaine, heroin, ecstasy, guns, and selling underage women into slavery and prostitution. It’s a spinoff from the Gulf Cartel. They have people in the San Diego area acting as teachers, social workers, officers, doctors, some even working for the Department of Motor Vehicles. Maybe even the judicial system.”
Dix was shocked at the information. The sheer size and sophistication of the resources the cartel would have depleted to get this deeply woven into the local infrastructure would certainly convince the politicians to wheel and deal with Calhoun. “I hate this side of law enforcement,” Dix mumbled. Unfortunately, the world of narcotics came with these types of deals. Some might say it was a necessary evil needed to catch the bad guys.
Dix looked from Petersen to Kovach. “Calhoun sure knows how to pick them. Our intended victim and the three hired guns were all Hispanic. I’m expecting you to fill in the blanks.”
Kovach proceeded to tell Petersen and Dix how several street level drug sellers were apprehended based on information from Calhoun. Pieces of intelligence gathered from the low level drug dealers were shared with Calhoun and he would further direct them where to look. Eventually, the San Diego Sheriff’s Office and HSI joined forces in an effort to move up the food chain. Their intent was to apprehend the main leaders of the covert cartel and dismantle it.
He shared, “Obviously every step of the way has been managed by headquarters because there are several people who would like to see Calhoun hang. We had a great break in pushing the case forward last week with a solid seizure at the Tijuana border. A trail car was spotted following the load car by a Border Patrol agent. The load was picked off as the trail car was sent to the secondary inspection area. The man driving that car was the man you and Petersen saved today. His name is Pedro Sanchez, and he is a paid Confidential Source (CS) working for HSI.”
Petersen couldn’t believe his ears.
Of all the luck,
he thought. He chuckled and looked over at Dix.
“Don’t even start with me. I’ve always been known as the ‘Dark Cloud,’ this just further cements that nickname.”
All the men in the room laughed out loud. As the connections and revelations began to sink in the men grew quiet again.
Kovach broke the silence. “We’ve been asked to debrief you and your partner. Then somehow convince you and your agency to help us out on the other side of the United States.”
“Oh no! There’s no way,” Petersen answered for Dix. This was precisely what he did not want to hear.
Dix jumped in, “Doug this is sticky already. We’ve both been ordered not to get involved and we’re both being investigated for the shooting. I tend to stretch the rules from time to time, but this one could cost our careers…not to mention Petersen just made sergeant.”
Kovach was afraid Dix would not help. He knew it wasn’t that Dix didn’t want to help but the fact was they were ordered not to get involved. They were on paid administrative leave, and currently being investigated for the shooting that saved his informant. He prepared for all the red tape prior to locating Dix.
He was already given the green light to further recruit Petersen and Dix by the Director of HSI who had called in a favor with the police Chief at the Miami Dade Police Department. Still, he needed to see just how much the two officers wanted to help.
Kovach pleaded, “Dix I’m in deep here. I could lose my career as well. If you taught me anything, it was to do the right thing. The right thing here is to figure out who the leak at my office is and take down the cartel.” He was hoping to convince either Dix or Petersen to jump into this mess. He believed their participation was necessary to solve this case.
Dix looked over at Petersen and said, “Buddy what do you think?”
Petersen still reluctant said, “No way man, I’m not dealing with this. I just want to get back home.”
He laughed and said, “Come on, you can’t tell me you wouldn’t like to get all over this case, see if we can ferret out a traitor wearing a badge, and apprehend some serious bad guys in the process.”
Petersen tried to remain calm and reminded Dix that they were three thousand miles from home and already on a serious time-out due to the shooting. In addition, it wasn’t even the local Sheriff’s Office (SO) asking for help. An outside agency was butting into the SO’s case. Despite his pleading, Petersen was pretty sure Dix was going to help HSI.
Petersen reluctantly replied, “If you’re foolish enough to jump in, you know I’m not gonna leave you hanging.”
Dix was happy to hear his partner supported him. Kovach seemed excited as well and it caused Romero to finally say something.
“Damn Kovach, I guess you were right about these boys. They have brass balls.”
Dix said, “We’re going to work behind the scenes, Doug. Our department will roast us if we get caught.”
Kovach felt it was time to clarify some things.
“I already took care of that. Well I didn’t, but the Director did. He called a personal favor in with your Chief and you guys have been cleared to help us.”
Dix felt his face flush, “What the hell? You already had the green light and made us sweat it out just to see if you could trust us.” He was fuming and felt like punching Kovach squarely in the mouth.
You son of a bitch
Petersen was up on his feet quickly and walking directly at Kovach. Dix could see he was intent on harming him. He jumped up and got between the two men. Romero seemed stunned and just sat there.
Kovach didn’t put up a fight because he knew he was wrong. He deserved to be smacked in the jaw for being a real ass. He felt everything slipping away and realized he’d made a very poor decision by not telling them everything.
Kovach apologetically said, “I’m sorry guys. I’m falling apart here. I’ve been standing tall in front of boss after boss and I can’t wrap my mind around the fact that someone in my agency is actually working for a cartel. The identity of my informant was compromised by a traitor. HSI is answering to several higher ups around DC and I’ve got nowhere to turn. All I can say is I’m sorry.”
Petersen took a deep breath. Dix took the silence as a cue to speak up. “You really disappointed me Doug. Steve and I should walk away from
problem,” he paused and looked at Petersen, “If we’re held out of any other discussion or decision in this case from this point on, we walk and you can lose my phone number…and your career.” He was still a little heated even after finishing his statement.
Petersen looked at Dix and nodded. He accepted Kovach’s explanation and understood that he was under a tremendous amount of stress. He still didn’t want to be involved in this case, but he was backing Dix all the way.
Dix pulled out a bottle of Jameson from his traveling liquor suitcase and poured four glasses. He pushed a glass in front of each man in the room.
“Gentlemen, the way I see it, we’ve got a lot of work to do.”
Raphael was shaking now and decided he would tell Calderon everything to try to spare his brother’s life. He was weak and tired, which explained why he thought it was a good idea to try to out-wit Calderon.
Calderon started. “Where’s the money car?”
Raphael wished he knew the answer. His heart pounded and he was helpless because he truly had no idea where it was. Without hesitation, Calderon pulled his Glock from his holster and shot Raphael’s brother in the kneecap.
“Please! Please Jose, I have no idea where the money is! I was supposed to meet up with Pedro, but remember he was arrested!” Raphael pleaded with the psychopath. Calderon was high on cocaine and enthralled with his lust to kill. Convincing him to spare their lives seemed impossible. Raphael decided if he came up with a solution, it might buy them some time.
Calderon looked delirious as he stared right through Raphael. The level of tension in the warehouse was unbelievable. Even Calderon’s other men seemed on edge while Raphael’s brother writhed in pain while hanging from chains after being shot.
Raphael tried a different angle. “I think Pedro had your money. Last I heard he was going to run. You saw the news. I tried to eliminate him, but those cops killed all the Enforcers. Maybe the money was in his car.”
Calderon was beside himself. He paced back and forth in the warehouse while his mind continued to play out scenarios as to where the money and Pedro was. The desperation he saw in Raphael’s eyes made him think he was actually telling the truth. He decided Pedro was working for the police. No matter what else went wrong, Pedro needed to die. Calderon decided he would get the boss’s money back
Pedro was dead.
Calderon walked over to Raphael and said, “I believe
you old friend, but I have no more use of you.” Raphael shook his head and screamed to be saved. Calderon abruptly shot him, point blank, then walked over to his brother and did the same. No remorse or hesitation. He pulled out the handkerchief from his Armani suit, wiped the blood from his face, and motioned to his men to clean up the mess.
Their two bodies, wrapped in black trash bags, were placed in fifty-five gallon drums while Calderon accessed his cell phone.
He dialed his contact at HSI. He needed to know where Pedro was, and where the money was before updating the boss in Tijuana. His contact did not answer right away, which caused him to worry, but only slightly. Within a few seconds, the grossly overpaid contact texted him, “With some cops right now, can’t talk. Standby.”
Petersen and Dix spent the better part of four hours going over the HSI case files. Kovach provided them every name of every officer, deputy, and agent involved in the case. He listed who still had access to the confidential source file and showed them the most recent cases the confidential source had worked. They quickly learned the case went on for over two years and numerous outside agencies were involved. Making sense of the details proved extremely difficult.
Dix looked at Petersen, “Man this is an impressive case. Narcotics and money lead HSI, FBI, and CIA to terrorist groups working in the U.S. and abroad. This is no joke.”
Petersen was half listening to Dix while he finished a file on a veteran HSI agent by the name of Lawrence and replied, “Uh huh.”
Dix chuckled and asked, “Steve, you have any idea what I just said?”
“I was sort of listening.” Petersen was reading how Lawrence was passed for promotion twice and not allowed to transfer offices three times.
This looks like a good candidate
, he thought.
Dix continued, “Ok, we can’t leave anyone off our list. Everyone is a suspect until we prove they’re not. I don’t like the sound of that, but we have to be delicate if we’re actually going to catch the mole.”
Petersen rubbed his chin. “You’re right about that. But I guess we can cross off Kovach and probably Romero since Kovach vouched for him.”
Dix thought about that statement. The last case he and Petersen worked, of this magnitude, taught him no one was immune to suspicion. He decided that beside Petersen, and maybe Kovach, he would trust no one on this case until he was absolutely sure they were not involved.