Chapter 1 - 8 months earlier-January – We don’t need no stinkin’ badges
Juan and Carlos were fidgeting and distracted while waiting on the plane. Their home away from home did not provide much in the way of amenities, since they wanted as little attention as possible out here in the Chihuahuan Desert of Mexico. Besides, they didn’t want to have an electricity bill for this unmarked landing strip they had spent so much time getting ready. The idea was to have it look deserted from the air as well as on the ground. Any time there was work to do, they showed up with their own water truck and portable generators. This allowed them to be self-sufficient for as many days as needed.
Carlos had become rather proficient at borrowing satellite communications time, so their voice and data connectivity never suffered because there was no phone line available. Actually, Carlos had been a telecommunications specialist in the military. He was quite clever at setting up complex signaling schemes that were encrypted and got bounced several times around his ground links to cloak the true location. When they sent a plane off or when they had a plane on approach, he insisted on radio silence. Being naturally cautious, he felt this minimized the possibility of the un-necessaries to triangulate their location based on radio communications traffic. That left them with a lot of time on their hands to worry about what might go wrong with the shipments.
Carlos was practical, thoughtful, and the consummate worrier of the two brothers. Juan, on the other hand, never showed up properly prepared for any situation. Thus, he improvised a lot to compensate for his cavalier approach to most everything. The result, however, gave him great adaptability to any given set of circumstances. His sense of humor, coupled with his knack of getting out of touchy situations, made him an excellent resource for this kind of work. Juan’s natural abilities to adapt and excel at almost any sport, whether physical or social, made him the person everyone wanted on their team. Juan’s charming wit and personality was always a hit with the ladies. This unfailing charm of his could usually be counted upon to get him out of difficulties, which he seemed to court more times than not. Born in Mexico, but educated in both the United States and Mexico allowed the brothers to work easily in either country. They preferred Mexico.
The rest of the ground crew in their private location in the Chihuahuan Desert of Mexico was comprised of Vaughn, Don, and Ron. They were referred to as the On-Brothers, though they weren’t even closely related. They didn’t quite seem able to make it with the ladies or possess the commonly accepted social behaviors. Indeed from time to time Carlos and Juan were asked if the On-Brothers were gay. They weren’t, but the absence of social skills only left them each other to live with. Their favorite game was mental cruelty. They’d take turns belittling one another usually as a game of two against one. Their eccentricities could be entertaining or tiresome depending upon the circumstances. Carlos had gotten into the habit of letting them know when they could devolve into their ritualistic verbal combat routine and when they could not. Whenever a landing was expected, the dialog became informational only among them, so that Carlos wouldn’t lose his temper.
At one point Carlos and Don had been equal partners in the business. Don had zoned out from time to time, taking as much as six months off, leaving Carlos to run operations. Vaughn showed up one day after his marriage had failed and fell right in to the new line of work. His temperament was the opposite of Don’s. Don was introspective, fairly well read, and when his pockets were full of money, he would simply leave if nothing was going on work wise. Don had come to Mexico seeking mystical enlightenment from the Yaqui Indians but stayed because of the peyote. One time he had even lived as a hermit in a cave along the Rio Grande and lived off the land wearing just a loin cloth. However after six months, he was driven to return to civilization primarily because he couldn’t get his major food supplement, fudgesicles. Vaughn couldn’t read very well so the material had to have lots of pictures of women and the more naked those were the better. Ron was like a puppy dog no one wanted, but for some reason he fit right in to round out the On-Brothers trio. The trio was mostly unfit and scruffy looking. Not candidates for inclusion in GQ Magazine.
Carlos had an unusual birth defect. For all his planning and efforts to contain and control himself in a situation when he lost his temper, it triggered an adrenaline leak into his system which doubled his strength thus giving him the moniker Raging Bull. Juan loved to tease his older brother, but he had to be careful that he didn’t push the wrong buttons on Carlos. The one time was quite enough and ever since then they’d worked together like well-oiled machinery. Carlos, at a lean 1.83 meters, muscular, black hair with a mustache, and Juan, at 1.52 meters, stockier but muscular, black hair with no facial hair, could easily be candidates for GQ Magazine, when they were cleaned up. Neither of them had problems attracting females and thoroughly enjoyed them.
“Where the hell are they?” asked Carlos. “I don’t know why I let myself get talked into using gringos for this operation. You know they can’t be trusted! If they screw this up--”
Juan interjected, “Then we won’t have to worry about them ever again. Look, you don’t fly into the U.S. looking like us without attracting attention. They are wanted fugitives with nowhere else to go. They can’t go back to where they came from, and we are the only ones who will work with them after the Mexican police started cleaning house. After the enemies they made at the Night Owl shoot out, their ONLY option is to work with us.”
Juan looked up at the weather and in particular the clouds moving in and added, “I sure don’t like the looks of the weather. These clouds have the look of Nympho-Cumulus all over them.”
Carlos stared at Juan for a moment and said blankly, “….Nympho-Cumulus?”
Juan, not changing his studying of the cloud formations, said, “You know, fucking thunderstorms.” To which Carlos rolled his eyes at being pulled into Juan’s gag.
“But anyway, just so you know, I am glad we have that remote detonation device hidden in the plane as our failsafe. Good thinking, bro.”
Carlos settled down a bit, based on Juan’s statements. Juan was right, where would they go if not back here? JC and Robert were larger than life men who had played it fast and loose. The U.S. federales were after both of them. If it hadn’t been for Juan’s plane and some low level flying, JC and Robert would be parked in the same cell block with Charles Manson and his friends.
JC was a small time crook who wanted to be a big time crook. At 1.835 meters tall and 113 kilograms, he was an imposing individual. His size, coupled with his hyper out-going and larger than life personality, made it seem like he almost sucked all the air out of a room when he entered. His jokes were desperately off color but his laughter was so contagious that everything seemed alright with everyone. He liked to pay for everything when he was out with the gang, and it earned him the nickname on-me JC. In fact he was so extravagant in his spending that he always needed more money, which led him into dealing drugs. His first wife didn’t quite get the hang of his changed lifestyle and didn’t want to go along that path.
The big score he needed to put himself into the larger than life role he envisioned came with a cash price he couldn’t deliver. So JC, being the resourceful individual he was, killed two birds with a single stone. According to federal testimony, JC murdered his wife for the insurance money and used it to finance his first big drug deal. His second wife, who was almost the same age as JC’s oldest daughter, didn’t seem to mind JC’s undocumented business activities. She thoroughly enjoyed spending the money it brought in. JC was always talking about his new acquisitions.
At dinner one night with 15-20 close friends, JC told everyone about the new Cadillac he had just ordered with every option possible.
JC told everyone, “You should see this new Caddy I have coming in. Man-o-man, it’s got EVERY possible option you can think of! But the only one I couldn’t bring myself to get was the automatic douche-bag. I don’t want an automatic douche-bag.”
His wife and daughter laughed the hardest at this as they did with all his antics.
JC’s drug dealing connection was Juan out of Mexico City. They shared the same passion for flying, which is why Juan picked up JC one day at Dallas Love Field regional airport just one step ahead of the federales and flew him to Mexico. It was quite a haul that day since Juan also brought along another social climber, Robert.
Robert was somewhat quiet and withdrawn, almost moody. A moderately built ex-military gunnery sergeant and sharp shooter, there wasn’t anything he didn’t know about weapons and how to effectively use them. All Robert ever talked about was being in financial investments. Word was that after Robert left the service that is exactly what he did. He robbed banks, 20 to be specific. His assembled team would blow into a bank masked, heavily armed, hold a few hostages, and grab everything of value in under eight minutes. Then they’d take someone’s car out of the lot and drive to where their car was located. The story goes that one of his team members got drunk one night and described in too much detail one of the robberies to a lady who was also an undercover cop.
The police broke in on Robert and held him at gun point while they searched his apartment. The SWAT team recovered several weapons and some C-4 explosives. One SWAT team member brought a locked brief case over to Robert and asked him to open it. Robert was being held down on his stomach with his hands cuffed behind him with two H-K semi-automatic weapons pressed to his head.
Sensing the irony of the situation, Robert told the guy, “You can open it if you’d like. I’d do it but I’m busy right now.”
The guy said, “Ok I will, but first let me bring it over here and put it next to your head” which he did.
Robert, not one to let the moment slip through his fingers, quickly added, “Hey man, before you open it can you put your fingers in my ears? I hate loud noises.”
Robert was out on bail and trying to buy a drink at the bar with only dimes, nickels, and quarters after the police confiscated everything he had. That’s when he bumped into on-me JC and Juan. Robert was due for sentencing the next day and was trying to have one last drink before he went in. When Juan and JC couldn’t watch the pathetic activity of Robert trying to pay for a drink with loose coins, they both covered the tab.
However, Juan was never able to miss an opportunity to have a dig at someone and, knowing a little about Robert, said, “Boy, some bank robber you are!”
The absurdity of the situation made everyone laugh and of course that was their evening toast at every round of drinks ordered. JC and Robert really seemed to hit it off as drinking buddies.
Juan sized up the bar crowd and knew something was wrong. He was pretty sure that his two new friends were being watched which meant so was he. But ever the party animal and with someone else to rock-out with, he ignored the feeling. The night got louder and louder. Juan even bought drinks for the DEA, the Feds, and the undercover police, pretending he was just being sociable to the crowd watching their antics. Apparently around midnight, a couple of small caliber weapons went off in the bar which quickly emptied the place.
Juan had staged the exit and took his two new friends straight to the fully fueled King Air twin engine parked at Love Field and promptly took off. He filed his flight plan while taxiing down the runway. He dropped from radar shortly after crossing the DFW city limits, and no one picked him up again until he was on the ground at the landing strip in the Chihuahuan Desert of Mexico. Juan was right. Robert and JC had no place else to go.
The On-Brothers came rushing in to say that a plane was on approach and so everyone went out to see if it was theirs or someone unwanted.
Carlos said, “Right, saddle up!” as he strapped on his favorite Colt 1911 semi-automatic pistol and grabbed his weapon of choice, an H-K semi-automatic assault rifle. Everyone else saddled up as well in case they needed to greet intruders.