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Authors: Philip C. Baridon

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White Death

BOOK: White Death
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First published by Roundfire Books, 2013
Roundfire Books is an imprint of John Hunt Publishing Ltd., Laurel House, Station Approach,
Alresford, Hants, SO24 9JH, UK
[email protected]
www.johnhuntpublishing.com
www.roundfire-books.com

For distributor details and how to order please visit the ‘Ordering’ section on our website.

Text copyright: Philip Baridon 2013

ISBN: 978 1 78279 080 8

All rights reserved. Except for brief quotations in critical articles or reviews, no part of this book may be reproduced in any manner without prior written permission from the publishers.

The rights of Philip Baridon as author have been asserted in accordance with the Copyright,
Designs and Patents Act 1988.

A CIP catalogue record for this book is available from the British Library.

Design: Stuart Davies

Printed and bound by CPI Group (UK) Ltd, Croydon, CR0 4YY

We operate a distinctive and ethical publishing philosophy in all areas of our business, from our global network of authors to production and worldwide distribution.

CONTENTS

Chapter 1 – Rise of the Triumvirate

Chapter 2 – Ambience

Chapter 3 – The Beat

Chapter 4 – Rain and Snow

Chapter 5 – Bail

Chapter 6 – Return of the Titles

Chapter 7 – Steelworkers in Paradise

Chapter 8 – Midnights

Chapter 9 – Business Problems

Chapter 10 – The Weight of Responsibility

Chapter 11 – A New Plan

Chapter 12 – The Crime Beat

Chapter 13 – High Times

Chapter 14 – Narcotics Division

Chapter 15 – Filleted Princess

Chapter 16 – Double Cross

Chapter 17 – Intelligence Division

Chapter 18 – Insertion

Chapter 19 – Under and Outside

Chapter 20 – Smuggling Drugs

Chapter 21 – A Family Feud

Chapter 22 – Textbook Investigation

Chapter 23 – One-Way Ticket

Chapter 24 – The Calls

Chapter 25 – Back to Work

Chapter 26 – The Takedown

Chapter 27 – A Gambler’s Chip

Chapter 28 – Showdown

Chapter 29 – An Odd Triangle

Chapter 30 – A Pact

Chapter 31 – Afterthoughts

Chapter 32 – Sparks

Epilogue

Notes

Chapter 1
Rise of the Triumvirate

Barranquilla, Colombia, November 1968

El Patron
turned to one of his lieutenants, “Get rid of the body.” His voice sounded flat, emotionless.
El Patron
had just shot a drug mule twice in the head at point-blank range. Perhaps a little too close, as he casually flicked a piece of brain matter from his shoulder. “Cut off both hands, leave the wedding band on, return the truck to the factory with the right hand, and tell them to find drivers who won’t short me a brick. The left hand is for the widow. Make the message clear: Cheat me, and you die.”

As a wisp of smoke curled up from the barrel tip, he held the gun flat in his hand and eyed it for a moment. This C-96 Broomhandle Mauser, a top-loading 9 mm, was a trophy that always brought him good luck. He believed the story Marcus Sterling, his Cuban partner, told him when Marcus gave him the gun: An old soldier, down on his luck, had taken it from a dead German officer in 1944. The Cuban had picked it up for a fraction of its value, one more piece for
El Patron‘s
extensive gun collection.

The gun brought back the scene about six months earlier. He had met Sterling in a Miami hotel and a new partner. Tyrone (the Professor) Jones was a respected and self-educated heroin dealer in Washington D.C. The Professor had been well-recommended by associates trusted by Gonzalez and Sterling for years.

With the amphetamine market in tatters, cocaine they agreed could fill that void. People would be willing to pay for stimulants. In addition, a new middle-class market was emerging, one that did not attach a stigma to cocaine use. Jones had a well-established
distribution network in place, which already controlled most of the city’s heroin, adding cocaine would not be difficult. Of course, the plan required hiring some white dealers who could fit into the go-go bars and suburbs.

Sterling was enthusiastic, but Gonzalez less sanguine and clearer about potential problems. The production of cocaine paste was scattered from the Upper Huauaga Valley of Peru to the San Jorge Valley of Colombia. “Who is going to oversee the three distinct steps? Specifically – leaf to paste; paste to base; and base to the final product, cocaine hydrochloride. The paste also has a short shelf-life and must be converted rapidly to base. This last step requires a yet-to-be-constructed laboratory near
Barranquilla.”

Gonzalez’s questions were pertinent and to the point. He then offered, to nobody in particular, that he had established a friendship with a Paez Indian chieftain, who had left his tribe to join the Colombian military to fight the FARC – a five-year-old communist insurgency, which had already clashed with the Paez. “They may be interested in money or arms to help protect their lands, and they cultivate significant amounts of leaf and convert it to paste.”

Sterling said he would be willing to fly to Peru to investigate possibilities for establishing reliable connections there.

Jones asked about the lab. “What will it cost? What does it need? How much space is required?”

Gonzalez had replied, “A good lab consists of several buildings including dormitories, eating facilities, generators, and filtering and drying equipment. The cost is considerable.”

After further discussion, the three men agreed to divide lab costs evenly, but profits as follows: Gonzalez 35 percent; Sterling 30 percent; and Jones 35 percent. Jones argued that his risk exposure was greater, and the primary function of Sterling was logistics. The plan included construction of the lab in an industrial zone in Barranquilla, a convenient location close to the
Ernesto Cortissoz
International Airport.

These men had just formed the Barranquilla Cartel, which would control cocaine from Richmond to Philadelphia.

Yes, thought Gonzalez, as his gazing at the gun ended. It had seemed so much easier then, when risks could be assessed and shares divided.

Chapter 2
Ambience

Washington, D.C., May 1969

I worked in the Fifteenth Precinct in the northwest part of the city, a short block from Georgia Avenue, a principal urban corridor. After a year of cajoling, my friend Mike had signed up with the Metropolitan Police Department (MPDC), completed “Rookie School,” and was assigned to my precinct. A converted old brick colonial, the station house’s gray slate roof had seen a half-century of winters. On the main floor, cheap partitions replaced walls, and government furniture made in federal prisons was dropped everywhere. Painters, apparently, had been told to use light green or brown on every non-moving thing. The building stank of fast food, cigarette smoke and, during hot spells, sweat. Telephones rang from everywhere, and both emergency and non-emergency calls came into the desk sergeant’s area. Across from there was a space for paperwork and informal interviews, full of metal desks facing each other and never enough wooden chairs.

Walking toward the back of the station, a right turn led you to a cellblock for short-term detentions. A standard prank was to lure a rookie into one of the cells and lock him in for at least an hour. A left turn in the precinct brought you to a circular staircase, perhaps reminiscent of a grander time, which led upstairs to the roll-call room.

The basement—cluttered with desks, mechanical typewriters, and government-issue ballpoint pens—featured one table with stacks of forms for all necessary reports. Officers interviewed and processed prisoners here, including, for example, a standard Form 252 for each misdemeanor or felony arrest. The most
coveted desk sat by a rusting cold-water pipe that ran vertically near the corner of the room‘s entry. One cuff fit around the pipe and the other around a wrist, while the officer completed the paperwork.

Officers with dangerous or agitated prisoners got priority. Out the back center door was an overhang where police brought in prisoners, and cruisers rolled in to be “hot-seated” during shift changes. The motor kept idling; the radio turned up loud; and the relieving officers were often handed a clipboard with new radio runs that the prior crew was unable or unwilling to take. Squabbles about fast-food trash in the back, or shoved under the seat, were common.

An eight-foot cyclone fence enclosed the area around the building, including a parking lot and a gas pump.

The workload was intense during late afternoons and night. The “power shift” ran from 6:00 p.m. to 2:00 a.m. Roll call for each shift started one-half before. Therefore, day work began at 5:30 a.m.; the evening at 3:30 p.m.; and midnights at 11:30 p.m. (As a paramilitary organization, they use the 24-hour time system.)

Coming late was never an option, and tonight we worked 3:30 p.m. to midnight. Outside the room hung a grease board with the “uniform of the day” written on it. The official uniform could be short sleeves, long sleeves, blouses, or heavy jackets. Beefs about short sleeves in fifty-degree weather or blouses in ninety-degree heat were common. Nevertheless, changing was not negotiable. In fact, nothing was changeable. Uttering the word union would cause lightning to strike your cruiser. The brothers shuffled into roll call alone, in pairs, or small groups, at least fifteen minutes early.

The banter and bravado often boiled down to, “I got more testosterone than you do.” The room was self-segregated, with black officers on the right and white on the left.

“Hey, Brinson,” came the taunt from the left, “you are one seriously ugly motherfucker.” Brinson’s voice on the radio was one of several that you wanted to hear when you needed serious backup, fast. Brinson swaggered up to the podium and addressed the room. “I’m the biggest, blackest, and meanest, nigger in this room. Anybody got a problem with that?” Hearing no objections, he returned to his seat, only for the usual buzz to resume. Footsteps pounding up the stairs signaled the beginning of work.

Sergeant Townsen and Lieutenant Dominik scanned the room for missing faces in the platoon. As usual, the next thirty minutes followed an orderly sequence of assignments (partners, special details); teletype (who has been robbed, shot, or flimflammed in the last sixteen hours); and the distribution of auto “hot sheets.”

Today, he circulated an artist’s sketch of a man wanted for the murder of a Maryland state trooper. The look-out-for was a red Ford model 110 with Maryland tags. Everybody memorized the information not only to avoid being the next victim of a shotgun clamped to the inside of a driver’s door, but also to acknowledge how often the fraternity of police crossed jurisdictional and racial boundaries. It could happen to anyone. In this case, as the trooper approached, the killer opened the door to the correct angle and shot him. All listened to assignments with anticipation, because the chemistry between you and your partner (if you had one) would color the next eight hours.

“Rip and Country in 64; O’Day, you’re alone in 65; Preacher, you’re also 10-99 in 66; 67 is out for brakes. If you assholes don’t stop riding the brakes with your left foot, I’m going to put you on permanent midnights, on foot beats eight and nine, and you can eat that biker-bar food. Grabowski and Crash in the wagon. Grab, you drive; Flyboy, you got Jansen the rookie, three and four beats, pull on the half; PT, take one and two beats on the hour.”

“Shit, Sarge,” said PT with a huge smile radiating across the room. “Let’s make it interesting,” he pulled five new twenties from his pocket and spread them apart, like a poker hand. “I got
a hundred dollars here that says, with a half-hour head start, I can pull every box, and you’ll never find me.”

Grabowski farted his approval of the proposed wager as laughter replaced the momentary silence.

This was a familiar jibe by PT, but Townsen was in no mood for it.

“Let’s make it more interesting. You
will
pull every box, and I
will
see you on the street working your beat. If I don’t, I keep the money, and you don’t need directions to the Trial Board because you’ve been there before.”

“Sure, Sarge,” now with wild laughter. “You can blindfold me on the front steps of headquarters, and I’ll still find the right room.”

The litany of assignments continued. Roll call ended with an inspection of uniforms and revolvers.

Lieutenant Dominik looked at Grab’s filthy pants. “When is the last time you changed the oil in your pants?”

“Huh?”

“For Christ’s sake, Grab, take your uniforms to the cleaners before I see you again.”

The lieutenant concluded with, “Take your beats, men.”

BOOK: White Death
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ads

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