In Good Graces

Just outside Nogales, Mexico, there is a cavern deep inside a mountain. Currently meeting inside it are a group of the highest ranking members of Mexico’s up and coming cartel known as La Triple Seis or LT6, and others.

It was a mission given to a group of misfits from Los Poderosos – a very wealthy, dangerous and powerful Mexican cartel.

It was considered a suicide mission to Alejandro, or “El Jefe,” who is the founder and leader of Los Poderosos (The Powerful.) Alejandro wanted to send a stern warning that there is nothing he wouldn’t try to keep his current distribution channel the only functioning and covert method to transfer goods and people to and from the United States. So he gave this assignment to his brother, Angel, also known as “Osito” by his family and close friends. Osito chose a few  of what he considered “disposables.”

The team’s leader, Erica, knew very well they were being sent on a suicide mission. However, suicide is not an option and she wanted to prove herself to “El Jefe.”

It has taken Erica over a year to get into Los Poderosos. Moreover, she has spent several months of planning, hard training, and preparing her team for this day. She was about to show Alejandro and all of Los Poderosos, just how much they underestimated them.

Part 1 – A Few Digits

Silently observing El Triple Seis’ group, hidden by the shadows cast by the cavern walls, is a four person hit team consisting of three men, Jorge, Eduardo, Tito,  and one woman, Erica.

Suddenly the cavern erupts in gunfire, the air quickly filling with gray smoke and the smell of spent rounds. The three men yell out they are out of ammo. Erica yells at them “Ir de sonseguir el culo de aqui!” (Go..get your asses out of here!) She continues shooting, providing cover fire, as they retreat without hesitation to her commands.

The large group falls slightly behind giving her a chance to find shelter behind a large, gray boulder. Quickly Erica takes an HG84 hand grenade out of her cargo pant pocket, unlocks, pulls the key out and throws it towards the group chasing them as they came closer. Erica immediately begins to vacate the cavern and presses a small red button on an electronic device she has clipped to her gun’s shoulder strap causing more explosions deep within the caverns.

Meanwhile, the men finally reach the Jeep they parked outside and not far from the cavern. Just as they turn their vehicle on they hear, and feel, the explosions.  Plumes of smoke begin to bellow out of the mouth of the cavern, then bursts of flames follow. 

After the blast, with the dust and smoke still swirling around, outruns Erica. She’s covered in soot, dust and blood. Her shirt is torn and her hair is blown over and sticking up on one side. Her left eye is swollen.

Erica drops a small black box off by a boulder nearby and yells at the driver as she jumps into the Jeep “Get out of here, this place is going to get worse!”

She didn’t have to tell the driver twice, Jorge throws the Jeep in gear and quickly leaves the exploding cavern behind them. Erica, hands Tito, who is holding on in the front passenger seat, some fingers.

Eduardo, who was sitting in the back, too, says, “Mierda Loca sopló todo para arriba!” (Holy shit, Crazy Girl blew it all up!)

Loca is their nick-name for Erica.  No wonder…

Erica smiles as she looks into the rear view mirror from the backseat, and tries to fuss with her hair and checking to make sure she still had her earrings.

The driver, Jorge says, “Yet she’s worried about her fucking hair.” The guys burst out laughing. Erica smacks Jorge in the back of his

Los Poderosos, the most technically advanced cartel in Mexico, or any Latin country. She hopes that working with this group, blowing out the cavern and eliminating the big boys of LT 6, along with some others, will impress “El Jefe,” the master mind and kingpin of Los Poderosos.

“El Jefe”, Alejandro Morales, worth billions, the founder and leader of Los Poderosos, could be the most powerful man in the underworld. His money laundering ties include senators and other wealthy families from the United States to Russian oligarchs to Arab royals. As he is cleaning up Mexico of the ruthless cartels which once infested the country – the people of Mexico love him and call him the Saint Christopher of Mexico.  Folks adore him. Alejandro, though, loves the cocaine and from it he developed a nose problem so he is often spritzing nose spray up his nostrils to open up his swollen sinuses.  

The Mexican government had become complicit during Los Poderosos’ take-over while accepting a lot of praise for the Sixers apparent demise.  At the same time the President of the United States, Ronald Bruscar, claims the drastic drop in illegal migration from Mexico was due to his strengths and family separation policies he first blamed the previous administration for it when getting  negative feedback from it. However, now he admits it was all his idea and it’s why the border crossings have declined. It wasn’t, but unfortunately the weak politicians in office stroke this man’s fragile ego.

As Jorge drives he takes out his cell phone and presses number 1 and it dials Osito.

Osito is about six feet, four inches, and stocky. He is Alejandro’s brother and his real name is Ricardo, but he will always be Mommy’s little bear. So “Osito” stuck and forty three years later he is answering a call from Jorge.

Osito asks, “Is it done?” Jorge immediately answers with a smile, “Still in progress, Osito.” Jorge holds up his cell phone in the air as they are driving away allowing Osito to hear the continuous and very loud explosions going on behind them. Jorge puts his phone back to his ear. He listens then says, “Ok, sounds good.”

Jorge ends his call and places his phone in his front pocket and says, “Osito is impressed, Loca, and he’s going to shit his pants when we give him those fingers. Who’s fucking fingers are they? I mean, who were these people?”

“Javier Espinoza, the one with the nail polish is Paula Milena’s, and Thiago … I forgot his last name.” Erica tells them.

“Dominguez?” Jorge asks with a very hopeful look on his face.

“Yea, yea, that’s it.” She recalls.

“Holy shit.” Jorge says. Eduardo covers his mouth in shock and Tito says, “Whaaaaat?!”

Javier Espinoza, the head of El Triple Seis, Paula Milena, an assistant to The Mexican Secretariat of National Defense , and Thiago Dominguez, a well known and most wanted weapons dealer from Columbia, and a nuisance to El Jefe, or at least used to be one.

“What the fuck is the National Defense doing in the bowels of the earth with these mother fuckers?” Tito asks looking at the fingers curiously, rolling them around in his hand.

“Good question.” Erica replies knowing the answer.

Paula Milena, the assistant to the Mexican Secretariat of Defense, has been under investigation by the CIA for close to two years. The CIA, the United States Border Patrol (USBP)  have been working closely as they try to locate the corrupt links in border security, among other things.

Paula has been seen during a vacation in Belize with Tomas Espinoza, Javiar Esponosa’s brother. The two were very intimate according to pictures taken by a security contractor.

The bumpy ride back to a main road takes Erica and the Team about ten minutes and by then the explosions had ceased. At this point, however, all you could see are large billows of dark smoke rising in the cloud-free blue sky.

The next hour to their compound is a much easier drive.

The crew in the jeep pull into the compound and are welcomed by a cheering crowd. They stop and park the jeep in front of The Compound’s warehouse and climb out.

“The Compound.” A large piece of land guarded by soldiers and surrounded by an electric fence topped with electrified barbed wire, is where many of the Los Poderosos’ live. The Compound contains twenty barracks which houses thirty Los Poderosos soldiers each. There are three large mess halls for those who reside in the barracks. Also in The Compound are senior officers’ quarters which are set up as small two bedroom Cabins. Although senior officers, they must share the apartment with another. Not far from the warehouse is the training camp which also has a few of its own barracks for these newcomers. The first time Erica arrived there it reminded her of boot camp.

The team of four are thrilled at the greeting. “How the hell did everyone find out already?” Jorge asks although not really caring as he loves the attention.

Shots of tequila are handed to the team and they drink.  The crowd roars. 

Moments later Osito walks out of the warehouse and the crowd goes quiet and opens up to allow him access to the employees of the month. “This is a great day!” Osito yells as he makes his way towards them. “The news! It is already breaking news!” The crowd cheers as he walks up to Jorge and places his arm around him.

Erica has never met or seen Osito. The first thing she notices are how dark his eyes are and the black curls in his hair. His strong facial features, his broad shoulders, and long stride sparked Erica’s interest and she bites her lower lip.

Jorge introduces Osito to Erica, “Osito, this is Loca, the one who blew the place up and brought you back a few trinkets.”

Erica looks up at Osito and extends her hand to shake his, “It’s a pleasure to meet you, sir.”

He takes her hand into his monstrous one and shakes it, “I’m thinking the pleasure is all mine, and you can certainly refer to me as Osito.”

Tito pulls the fingers taken from the unlucky three in the cave from his pocket and hands them back to Erica. “Here, you give them to him.” He says.

“What the fuck are those?” Osito asks, knowing the answer, as he watches the exchange.

“Fingers.” Erica says.

“Clearly, but to whom do they belong?” He asks.

Erica answers, “Javier Espinoza, Paula Milena’s, and Thiago Dominguez.”

The look on Osito’s face is priceless. His jaw remains open for a moment or two before he says, “I know two of the names, and El Jefe is going to shit his pants when he hears this, but who’s finger does the painted one belong to?”

“Paula Milena. She was the assistant to The Mexican Secretariat of National Defense.” Erica informs him.

Osito is surprised with that information. He wonders what La Triple Seis would be doing with anyone from National Defense. “I’ll be sure to let El Jefe know, Miss Loca.”

Erica smiles and takes of lock of her messy hair and begins to twirl it and says to him, “You can refer to me as Erica.”

“Listen, the four of you come inside and fill me in on everything.” Osito tells them as he turns and walks up the small set of stairs leading into the warehouse office.

They leave their cheering crowd behind and follow Osito into the office where they tell him everything that went down.

“Funny, with the fingers is a thumb drive. What a fucking pun.” Osito says as throws the fingers down on a gray metal desk next to a computer. Carefully he places the thumb drive into the USB port of the computer. He opens up one of the files and it contains schematics to what he did not know.  He tilts head like a puppy would when puzzled.

Erica, noticing that puzzled look on his face, asks, “May I look over your shoulder?”

He lets out a small chuckle and says, “Sure.  Maybe you can tell me what this is?” 

Erica looks at it and then asks if she can take the mouse, Osito agrees.

After moving the document around a bit she says to him, “It looks as if this is some sort of satellite.”  This is all she wanted to say at this time. However, the schematics shows advanced weaponry as well.

“No shit.” Osito says in amazement.  He then pulls the thumb drive out and places it into his pocket.

“Everything you told me is remarkable.” Osito says to them, “El Jefe will be very, very pleased. I look forward to sharing the good news with him. Now, go and enjoy the celebration outside waiting for you. I’ll meet up with all of you in a bit, I need to call my brother.”