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Sample Chapters The Sonoran Corridor

Note: (This full length novel is available for the Kindle through Amazon.com, for the Nook through Barnes and Noble.com and your favorite store for iPad books along with free previews at each of those sites. On this website it is available only in Adobe Acrobat PDF format.)

Chapter 1

Juan Hernandez pulled his truck to a stop at the designated coordinates. He turned off the engine, stepped out and surveyed the desolate, uninhabited area. Though the sky was alight with thousands of stars, the absence of a moon blanketed the Sonoran desert with darkness and an eerie silence…all the better for Juan as that would afford him the cover he needed to accomplish his task undetected.

Juan was informed the meet would occur after he finished his work and the latest shipment destined to cross the Mexican border would move into America through the Sonoran corridor.

The Sonoran desert is measured at 120,000 square miles of scorched, arid land from Baja, Mexico into Arizona and California where it meets the higher elevated Mojave Desert. With such an immense expanse of wasteland the Mexican drug cartel had the perfect avenue for shipment of illegal drugs into America because patrolling such a vast dry wilderness was near impossible.

Juan was furnished with precise instructions---down to the specific saguaro cactus standing majestically like a pillar supporting the sky. It was around that saguaro cactus he was to carry out his task. Juan had all the tools he would need in his assignment including several drums of water which were to be used in mixing cement. Juan went to the back of his truck and began unloading.

Tonight he was to construct something he’d built many times in the past for the cartel and though he was unaware of their specific purpose he followed his directions to the letter without asking questions.

When he was ready to begin, he approached the impressive saguaro cactus and measured four feet out from the base, picked up the posthole digger and immediately got to work. When he finished with one hole, he dug another and another until he had dug all the holes…all at four foot intervals circling the cactus.

He made several more trips to his truck as he unloaded the posts and a wheel barrel. He then mixed the cement with water from one of several barrels. When Juan was satisfied with the mixture, he cemented all the posts into place.

He hung fencing around the posts...strong, reinforced wire mesh…six feet high around the circumference of the prickly saguaro cactus. As instructed, he also stretched the wire mesh above the post extending the enclosure to the cactus. As he stepped back to examine his work, he gazed with satisfaction at the cage he had fashioned.

Juan then placed wooden planks upon the sand and secured them. The planks spread out from the cactus like spokes in a wheel with the cactus at the hub. They would assure nothing could tunnel in from underneath. As instructed, Juan left a small opening in the fence two feet by three feet to crawl through which Juan then exited.

It was just after midnight and it was only now that Juan noticed his sweat mingling with the cool night air. He shivered, as the sound of a coyote howled in the distance.

He went to his truck and donned his jacket. He then sat down behind the wheel and reached for his lunchbox. He pulled out a soft flour tortilla wrapped around shredded beef and lettuce. He had packed several and he ate heartily. When he finished, he closed his eyes, rested and waited patiently for the arrival of his cohorts.

It was after three o’clock in the morning when Juan was startled from his slumber by a knock on his window and he bumped his head on the roof of his truck.

“Come on, wake up! Let’s see if you did a half-assed job!” said one of three men.

Juan exited the truck and led the trio to the now caged cactus.

The leader wanted to inspect the workmanship so Juan led them in as each of the four men got down and one by one crawled through the small opening and into the cage. Inside, the leader placed his hand on the cement at the base of a pole. He reached for the post and carefully pushed it back and forth feeling for strength while being careful not to jar it away from its new foundation in case the cement had not yet firmly set.

He nodded in approval, “Si, it has hardened sufficiently.”

He then yanked on the reinforced mesh fence, and said, “Bueno.”

Juan nodded in appreciation.

“How many of these have you constructed for us over the years?”

“Oh,” Juan considered momentarily, and said, “It must be near a dozen by now.”

“You could have been a successful construction worker.”

“Hmm,” Juan chuckled.

“Over the years you have never known the purpose of these contraptions as we have dismissed you upon completion at each specific location but tonight you will see their purpose.”

That was the cue for the other two men and they immediately grabbed Juan.

“Hey!” he shouted in stunned surprise. “What is…?”

The leader cut him off with a wave of his finger. “No, you do not have the luxury to protest,” he said with deep anger.

The leader’s hateful stare caused Juan to cease talking at once. Juan remained silent as he realized he had been found out. His jaw slackened and his face took on the look of a man whose transgression had caught up with him and reflected the awful fact something horrible was about to befall him.

Juan knew he had committed the unforgivable in the eyes of the cartel. He had skimmed something off the top for himself. He made the cardinal error of thinking they wouldn’t notice the relatively small amount he’d taken…a soon to be lethal mistake.

Juan was stripped of his clothes and tied securely with his back to the cactus. The sharp barbs of the cactus punctured Juan’s skin causing his back and arms to bleed.

A thick leather brace was then tied around his neck from his shoulders to the base of his skull and secured to the cactus. The binding was to protect his neck---or more specifically his carotid arteries---so he wouldn’t die quickly.

The leader pulled out a knife and slashed Juan across his chest. It was not a deep cut as it was not intended to be lethal…only deep enough to get his blood to flow. Like others before him, Juan was not to be beaten. He was to be fully conscious so he could experience fully the horrific pain he was about to endure.

The leader and his two men crawled out of the opening as Juan was weeping now and implored them to let him go. “Por favor, por favor,” he whimpered. “I will never do it again. I will pay everything back.”

His appeals for clemency were ignored as a higher authority had already ruled on Juan’s fate.

Juan sensed the method of his demise would be gruesome because the cartel always disposed of its enemies in a ghastly manner…and it was all the more horrific for those they saw as traitors.

The unknown intensified Juan’s fear as the three men now headed toward the van in which they arrived.

They opened the sliding side door and lifted out a metal cage with the aid of long poles through ringlets. As they carried the cage, they looked like the servants in days long past carrying caged animals to an Egyptian Pharaoh.

Two creatures within the cage snarled and shrieked, as they immediately picked up the scent of blood. The cage was composed of two separate compartments. Each of the two sections held the same species of animal, a species that can go for long periods of time without eating and then feed heavily when prey is available.

These twenty pound creatures, common in the southwestern desert, are loners. They are not compatible with one another and thus have to be kept separated. Though diminutive they are quite fierce and can bring down an animal as large as a deer.

As the men carried the cage from the van, the leader laughed, “They never get along, but tonight they will dine together.”

As they neared the cage holding Juan Hernandez, the scent of his blood drove the starving animals into a frenzy of blood lust. They leapt ferociously against the metal mesh of their own cage in feverish anticipation…their long, sharp retractable claws out, poised to tear into flesh.

The three men placed the metal cage flush against the opening of the cactus cage that Juan had so competently constructed.

The men paused to sadistically enjoy the look of terror in Juan’s eyes.

The animals screeched, desperately attempting to claw their way out, craving to get their teeth into the source of the blood. Their high-pitched shrieks continued as drool ran from their exposed, sharp white fangs.

“He will be a tasty morsel, indeed,” said one of them.

“Too bad we don’t have any salsa for them,” another taunted Juan.

“You learn now what happens when you cannot be trusted,” said the leader with contempt, as he picked up his automatic rifle in case something went wrong and either or both the animals escaped. With a tilt of his head he signaled the other two men to climb atop the reinforced cage holding the carnivorous creatures. They did so and they simultaneously opened the two compartments by lifting the sliding gates from atop the cage.

There was only one way for the animals to go.

Juan Hernandez screamed in agony as the two starving bobcats pounced upon him in a frenzy of feeding.

Chapter 2

Carlos Allajandro was in Mexico City seated in the Estadio Azteca. The name honors the Aztec heritage of the Mexican people and it’s the home of the Mexican national football team. He was attending an afternoon match between Mexico and rival Cuba when he felt the vibration of his pocketed cell phone.

As he was about to grab it, he saw a man walking up the stadium aisle. He was a captain in the Mexican government but today was dressed in civilian clothes…a short sleeve olive green shirt and khaki pants.

Allajandro made no indication that he recognized the man who took a seat beside him where Allajandro always sat amongst the people in order to maintain a low profile.

The man leaned in toward Allajandro, and informed him in a low voice, “Nineteen shipments have cleared and are on their way.”

Allajandro’s expression did not change with the good news, as if he was unimpressed. He managed the production side of the operation, a subordinate to Anthony Trabucco, but he paid attention to distribution side of the lucrative industry, because he was confident one day he would be managing both aspects of the business.

“And the twentieth shipment?” he asked with no apparent emotion.

“That has been intercepted in the Sonoran Corridor and confiscated by the American authorities in Arizona,” the captain replied matter-of-factly.

Allajandro leaned back in his seat seemingly unmoved by the news.

Finished with his informational errand, the captain arose and walked back down the stadium aisle.

Allajandro now grabbed his cell phone and saw he had a message. He clicked on the message icon and saw a text from an unidentified caller. It was from one of his contacts using a disposable cell. The text simply read…

Sonar traveling

Sonar was a code name referring to a high U.S. government official. Allajandro immediately deleted the message and paused for several moments to consider the information. His source knew Sonar was on the move but didn’t know where he was going or the message would have specified. Perhaps it was nothing. Sonar could be leaving town merely for a weekend getaway. Allajandro contemplated the ambiguous message but he was not one to make assumptions so he placed a call to one of his top aides.

“What is it boss?”

“Spread the word to all our sources; Sonar is on the move.”

“Will do, boss. Is there any info as to his destination?”

“That’s what our sources have to tell us.”

“Got it,” his aide confirmed. “I’ll contact our network to be on alert and to contact us the moment Sonar is spotted.”

Allajandro disconnected and returned his attention to the soccer match.

Chapter 3

At the very southern tip of the Baja California peninsula in Mexico a strong westerly wind from the Pacific whipped against the enormous complex of 642 rooms known as the Riu Palace. The luxurious hotel in Cabo San Lucas, known simply as Cabo by many, has long been a favorite vacation destination of the rich and famous as they happily pay for many posh amenities to fulfill their pampering needs and desires.

This evening, Cabo San Lucas was being pelted by a heavy rain as the Vice-President of the United States rode in an automobile moving slowly up the driveway of the Riu Palace. As he looked out the window, the magnificently manicured gardens, though illuminated, were not visible to him through the storm.

When the car stopped and a man from the Riu opened his door, the Vice President stepped out and without acknowledging the man moved quickly toward the entrance.

Beneath the obscurity of his hat pulled down to his ears and with his shoulders hunched up and his coat collar flipped upward, as people often do in such a downpour, the Vice President was not attempting to protect himself from the elements. The hotel’s overhanging front entrance suffices quite nicely in keeping arriving guests dry. No, the Vice President wasn’t attempting to stay dry; he was trying to remain anonymous. He even stuffed his hands within his overcoat pockets, as if his $100,000 Rolex Daytona Diamond wristwatch might give him away.

Despite the fact that he was almost completely camouflaged, the Vice President felt nervous…so much so that he experienced an irrational paranoid delusion that each droplet of rain that strafed against the hotel was announcing his presence. His pulse quickened as his heart pounded and his anxiety increased when he neared the entrance.

He was accompanied by two men in suits and as the three of them neared the revolving door, the doorman greeted them. “Good evening, gentlemen.”

The Vice President did not acknowledge him and was careful not to look up as he stayed hidden beneath his hat and overcoat. As he entered the ornate lobby, a large chandelier suspended from high above caught his eye, as he slowed his pace on the polished marble floor. He was not concerned that the well-lit lobby might reveal his identity, so the Vice President moved quickly to the elevator.

It was nearly ten o’clock as he and his two man secret service detail boarded the elevator. As the elevator doors closed, the Vice President informed them, “This is a private meeting, a very private, confidential meeting. It is of the utmost confidentiality and a matter of National Security.”

“We understand, Mr. Vice President,” said one of the secret service men.

Neither of them was informed with whom the Vice-President was meeting and they never would be.

“I want you to wait outside the room but you’re not to look inside, nor even look to see who answers the door.”

“Understood, Mr. Vice President,” the same man responded.

None of the Vice President’s aides even knew about the meeting. Only he and the man with whom he had an appointment would know of the secret summit.

Unbeknownst to the Vice President and his Secret Service detail the doorman was sending a text at that very moment to his contact. The message was short and to the point…

Sonar-Cabo

When the elevator door opened, the Vice President said, “The meeting shouldn’t take more than forty-five minutes.”

“We’ll take our positions at either end of the hallway, sir.”

“Very good,” the Vice President responded, as he then moved down the hall quickly.

Before the two secret service men split up, one of them said to the other, “He’s traveling without his wife.”

What neither of them knew, however, was that this clandestine encounter was not with a lover. The person he was meeting was a man of immense wealth, but he did not rent a lavish suite. He reserved one of the innocuous rooms that looked like every other room so as not to draw unwanted attention.

The Vice-President had done some things in his life he wasn’t proud of, things that could never leak or his career would be finished, as is the case with most any politician. But this meeting would make those offenses pale in comparison and that is why it must always remain secret. No one must ever know they met.

Though he’d never made the acquaintance of the man he was about to see, the Vice-President was quite familiar with him, knew what he looked like and would recognize him at once. During the Vice-President’s days as Governor of Illinois a liaison had contacted this man several times for campaign contributions over the years, and it was always somewhere outside the U.S.A. Using a go-between was the only way the then Governor would deal with this man. That was about to change forever this evening in Cabo San Lucas.

The Vice-President knocked on the door.

The man within heard the knock but instead of moving toward the front door he entered the bathroom to splash some water on his face. The man was Frank Cervelli, the ruddy faced crime boss in charge of criminal operations in America’s Midwest. As he raised his head and looked into the mirror, he scoffed through his scowl as he contemplated what subject his guest might wish to discuss. His guess was money.

When he reached for the towel, he heard a second knock at the door.

He exited the bathroom casually and opened the front door. The Vice-President quickly ushered himself into the room, his clandestine guest scowling in distrust. The Vice-President was immediately taken aback as there were others in the room. He’d been told they’d be completely alone. He hadn’t expected to see anyone and the surprise showed markedly on his face but he certainly wasn’t upset as there were two delicious women laying on the bed, one blonde the other a brunette.

The Vice President’s eyes flared in lustful desire instantly. He was a sex addict; he knew it; and he enjoyed every minute of it.

The blonde was attired in a petite red baby doll, while the brunette wore a sexy black lacy teddy accompanied by a black garter and black mesh stockings, and they were making out with each other.

Frank Cervelli glanced knowingly at the Vice-President who coveted the appetizing twosome. As Cervelli eyed the two women, he commented, “As I recall, two bi-sexual women is your first choice.

The Vice-President cleared a frog from his throat. “Second and third choices as well,” the Vice President swallowed hard.

“They’ve been waiting for you; they’re just warming up.”

The blonde had one of her hands softly caressing the brunette’s left breast while they kissed each other deeply.

The Vice-President felt the sexual heat rising within him and a growing bulge within his pants. His awkwardness at the show was quite apparent. He was here for a business meeting with the Midwest crime boss and didn’t expect that anyone else would be here, especially not any women.

“Relax,” said the mobster, as he placed his hand on the Vice-President’s shoulder, and added, “Pleasure before business in my world.”

The mobster glanced at his watch, and said, “I’ve got some calls to make,” he said, as he headed for the bathroom, and added, “I’ll give you fifteen minutes.”

The Vice-President’s lustful desire had already overwhelmed him as he discarded his shirt and slipped out of his shoes and pants before Cervelli closed the bathroom door.

As the Vice President quickly removed his socks, he ogled at what awaited him. The brunette was lying on her back now with both her arms extended over her head as the blonde softly tongued one of her breasts.

Chapter 4

When Cervelli reentered the room, the women moved toward the bathroom to freshen up while the Vice-President was seated at the foot of the bead buttoning his shirt. He didn’t ask how it went. He merely made a gesture toward the mini bar, and asked, “What’ll you have?”

“A scotch rocks would be good.”

Cervelli prepared two of the same in silence and then handed one glass to the VP. They each took a sip of their scotch as they eyed one another without speaking like two prize fighters sizing up their opponent.

The mobster eyed the politician with distrust and skepticism, his laser-like eyes affixed upon him.

For his part, the Vice-President was fully aware of the vicious reputation of this man and he knew that any understanding with him was tantamount to a pact with Satan. He also knew that the line between them had been crossed long ago when his campaign was well nourished by the mobster.

The Vice-President continued to eye Frank Cervelli, swallowed another sip of the throat-stinging scotch and like any politician worth his salt, searched for the correct words before he began speaking.

“I have a proposition for you,” said the Vice-President, as the clandestine meeting commenced.

The mobster feigned mild surprise. “And here I thought you were going to ask for...,” he stopped, for emphasis of the next phrase so often requested of someone in his position of power, “money.”

“I have a business proposition for you,” the Vice-President continued past the mobster’s comment.

“Is there any other kind of proposition?” Cervelli asked in a dead serious voice. As his countenance remained in a hardened state of unemotional seriousness, Frank Cervelli added, “Not that I’ll every trust you.”

“Politicians don’t trust one another anymore than men of your ilk trust each other,” the Vice-President pointed out, “so trust between the two of us is most certainly out of the equation.”

“Hmm,” Cervelli muttered with a steady stare, as he raised his glass.

“But our mistrust goes beyond limiting it to those who share each of our specialized avocations,” said the Vice President.

“Touché,” Cervelli replied with a smirk. “Indeed it does.”

“Perhaps we mistrust each other more than we do our own kind.”

“I am wary of politicians who present proposals because they eventually lose an election and are then of no…”

“Yeah, yeah, we could go on like this all night,” the Vice President cut him off.

Cervelli shot an icy, angry glare for being interrupted in such a disrespectful manner.

“Nevertheless,” the Vice-President acknowledged with a tilt of his head, “I do take your point.”

“Yeah, I should say so,” Cervelli grumbled.

As the two women exited the bathroom, the men stopped speaking.

The women gathered their coats atop which was a thousand dollars each for their short evening’s work.

When they departed, Cervelli turned with anger toward the Vice President. “I learned from those who came before me. They made a deal with that son of a bitch…,” Cervelli stopped short. His eyes narrowed into a laser-like beam of loathing, and continued. “No, I don’t trust a politician further than I can spit.”

“Hey, we both know those who felt betrayed by him got their revenge.”

“Forget that shit!” Cervelli cut him off. “That’s history long gone,” he said, raising his voice. “We’re in the here and now,” he said, as he regretted broaching the subject. Angry, Cervelli tried to calm himself.

“Hmm, you’re certainly right about that,” said the Vice President. “We are indeed in the here and now.”

“As long as you know I charge double to politicians and I don’t accept any job unless we have some kind of insurance.”

“Oh, I am very well aware of what you charge, and I’m quite familiar with your theory of insurance. That’s the key word to a man in your position…so people don’t turn on you.”

“Damn straight,” said Cervelli.

“Well, I’ll present my proposal and we’ll see if first you’re interested and perhaps we can work out the details.”

Cervelli nodded for the VP to proceed with whatever scheme he had in mind.

As the Vice President began his pitch, Cervelli, nicknamed ‘the scowl’, because he rarely smiled was fully in character this evening. He hadn’t smiled since he answered the door. Besides his countenance there was something else that set Cervelli apart. He almost never dismissed any proposal out of hand. He would neither agree nor refuse a specific proposal on the spot. He would table it for a week, two weeks or months so he could think it over. Impatience was not one of his faults.

Some people in Cervelli’s line of work thought he consulted someone in his business to get another opinion…a mentor if you will…before ultimately entering into negotiations to make a deal or discarding the idea altogether. But no one really knew if he consulted with anyone or not.

This evening he listened attentively to the Vice-President, though he eyed him skeptically with his dark, dispassionate eyes, and occasionally interrupted the VP to ask clarifying questions to be sure he understood the exact scenario of the project.

The Vice President meanwhile was not deluding himself that he could ever trust Frank Cervelli. Even as he pitched his plan he knew this was to be a transaction involving cold, hard cash, and the plan had to be worked out so there would be no obvious downside or an overwhelmingly great risk for Cervelli. Otherwise, he would simply decline. And worse, without lifting a finger Cervelli would acquire knowledge of what the Vice President intended to do simply by listening to him now.

Information is power.

Over the years Cervelli milked untold millions out of wealthy citizens by blackmailing them with knowledge he acquired about their past or present activities.

More than once a famous male movie star didn’t want it known he was gay for fear his lucrative leading man roles would dry up overnight. Cervelli was most agreeable to keeping the actors’ sexual preference a secret…for an annual stipend.

There was a multi-millionaire who’d signed a pre-nuptial agreement in which he would lose hundreds of his millions if it was ever proved he was involved in an adulterous affair. Cervelli had photos to prove it, but was only too happy to save the millionaire hundreds of millions by receiving tens of millions to keep a lid on the affair.

There was an Arab sheik that paid millions to Cervelli just so a parcel of land could be re-zoned. With Cervelli’s connections, the sheik was able to purchase the property…at a more than small finder’s fee.

The examples of blackmail and extortion were more numerous than one could count. Cervelli raked in hundreds of millions of dollars from these types of schemes alone.

When the Vice President finished outlining his proposal, the mobster responded and as usual he was noncommittal.

“I’ll have to think about it.”

“Of course, of course,” the Vice-President nodded.

“If I were inclined to accept your proposal, I’d have to make several calls to my contacts so we could examine the logistics involved in such a project.”

“Of course, I understand,” the Vice-President nodded. “Then there are the details that arise only later after the planning phase…,”

“Yes, of course.”

“Things could take quite some time to be worked out.”

The Vice-President nodded.

“I’ll let you know,” the mobster advised him.

“How much time will you need?” the Vice-President asked.

Cervelli eyed the Vice-President with a cold stare. The meaning was unmistakable.

“Uh, well, no matter, you take the time you need to consider it,” the Vice-President equivocated immediately.

Without saying a word, Frank Cervelli arose abruptly which indicated the meeting was concluded.

The Vice-President followed his lead and also arose.

Cervelli led him to the door, opened it, and the Vice President exited his room without another word being spoken between them.

The Vice-President stayed in a room the secret service procured for him under an assumed name and in the morning he departed the hotel as secretively as he had arrived.

Chapter 5

Before the week was out Frank Cervelli met privately with the don of the southeast, his long-time business associate, the silver-haired Joseph ‘Don Juan’ Federici. He was so nicknamed because women found the tall, dark complexioned Italian irresistible.

Of course, Joseph Federici took full advantage of his movie-star good looks and his masculine physique when it came to the ladies. The fact that he was now in his fifties, married and a father of three did not deter him from seeing other women whatsoever. Every week at least two different women, sometimes three, entertained him.

Federici recently built a mansion on Saint Christopher Island, less formerly known as St. Kitts. Along with its neighboring island it forms the Federation of St. Kitts and Nevis. Federici’s mansion was located just outside the largest city on the island---Basseterre with a population of 15,000. He built here because the seclusion appealed to him.

How much time Federici would spend on the island remained to be seen as he thoroughly enjoyed vacationing in the Greek Isles, the French Riviera as well as throughout the Caribbean. To say he liked the sun would be a substantial understatement.

Today ‘Don Juan’ enriched his movie-star tan as he lounged on his veranda while enjoying its magnificent view overlooking the terraced hillside and the breathtaking unending expanse of the Atlantic Ocean as far as the eye could see. For Joseph Federici, a mere lake house would never do.

“Sir, your guest has arrived,” a man from his household staff announced. “I showed him to the study, sir.”

Federici nodded his approval, arose and headed for the pool-side shower to get refreshed and change.

Today Joseph Federici was hosting Frank Cervelli to discuss business.

His cohort in crime was gazing at the many volumes enclosed behind glass bookshelves when Federici entered the study.

Federici did not bother to greet his guest but went straight to the wet bar and fixed them each a drink.

As he handed Cervelli a glass, he announced confidently, “Scotch on the rocks.”

Cervelli nodded, accepted the glass, took a sip, and said, “There’s nothin’ but black boogies on this island.”

“We get along just fine and they do a lot of work for me. Besides, I like the privacy here.”

“Privacy is right! How can you stand it? I thought you were a worldwide vacationer.”

“That’s why I like it here when I’m not vacationing.”

“Whatever,” Cervelli replied.

“Actually, I just built the place. I only moved in a few months ago.”

“How many does this make for you now?” Cervelli asked.

“Hmm,” he thought for a moment before responding. “Seven…no…eight houses. Yes, I own eight homes now.”

“Crime pays rather well,” said Cervelli.

“Indeed,” Federici agreed, as he gestured toward a chair.

They each sat down and Federici said, “We can talk freely. The roof and walls are made of an alloy the listening satellites cannot penetrate. In addition, I have music piped to an outlet in the roof so they can actually listen in to jazz, blues, even classical music in the evenings. That way they think someone is home and they’re actually listening in when in actuality they’re unable to do so.”

“Clever,” Cervelli said matter-of-factly.

“Also, during the day I have locals that I’ve hired. They don’t know anything about what’s what. I hire them to talk baseball for an hour. They change the subject and talk politics, news, current events, the latest movies or happenings on the island such as they are, and so on throughout the day.”

“What does that do?” Cervelli asked, though he really wasn’t interested in hearing the answer. He knew this was just small talk before they eased into their business discussion as he knew Federici could prattle on endlessly about the most inane subjects.

“I change the locals a couple of times a day and they’re in a special room where they can’t hear anything going on in the rest of the house, but their conversations are emitted through that pipe in the roof.”

Cervelli stared in boredom at the sound of Federici’s meaningless words.

“Works like a charm,” Federici smiled proudly.

“How would you know?” Cervelli asked skeptically.

Joseph Federici seemed noticeably taken aback by the question.

“Hmm, yeah, I guess that would be good cover,” said Cervelli, and asked, “and how is this room?”

“Even though it would be very difficult for any arm of American law enforcement to land on this tiny island and plant something without my knowledge, I have this room swept every single morning without fail.”

“Ever find one?” Cervelli inquired.

“Never once,” Federici beamed.

“Well, like you said, you haven’t lived here very long. Still, it’s good you check every day I suppose.”

“So, what is this business proposal all about?” Federici asked, as he took a sip of his gin and tonic, and leaned back into his black leather reception chair. He preferred this more formal chair when discussing business with an associate.

Frank Cervelli began and for the next ten minutes Federici listened attentively to Cervelli’s outline of the Vice President’s proposal.

Federici did not interrupt his colleague in crime with any questions. It was Federici’s way. He would always hold any concerns he may have or ask any relevant questions of clarity he might have when Cervelli was finished speaking.

Deferring to Cervelli when his colleague in crime was speaking however did not mean Federici was reluctant to speak his own mind when the moment came to do so.

When Cervelli finished, Federici was not reticent about revealing what he thought, as he erupted into hearty laughter.

After several seconds, he noticed that Cervelli was not joining him in his frivolity. That did not make him feel uncomfortable, only curious. “You’re not taking this so-called proposal seriously, are you?” He asked through his laughter.

Frank Cervelli eyed his long time business associate, and replied calmly, “I consider every proposal---until such time as I don’t.”

Federici’s laughter ebbed as he noticed Cervelli’s serious countenance had continued unabated. “Well, I think I finally understand how you came to be known as ‘The Scowl’.

Frank Cervelli’s facial expression remained unchanged.

“I am curious though. What’s going on in your mind? What are you thinking?”

Cervelli took another sip of his scotch. Though he didn’t smile, his eyes revealed that he was pleased upon hearing Federici’s question. The wheels in Cervelli’s mind had been turning non-stop since the Vice President first put forth the proposal. That was nearly a week ago and each day that passed he thought things through a little more than the day before. He did not consider any of it as laughable. “The VP thinks, i.e. the government thinks, we get all our cocaine and heroin from Colombia.”

“What a stupid shit he is,” said Federici. He took a gulp of his gin and tonic and now it was he whose countenance changed. “Of course, I’m not complaining. The stupider they are the better for us.”

“Hmm,” Cervelli agreed.

With mild concern, Federici asked, “Why did he approach you, I mean you in particular? He doesn’t have anything on you, does he?”

Cervelli stared coldly at Federici briefly, and then said, “If he did have something on me and I told you about it, then I’d have to kill you, wouldn’t I?” Cervelli deadpanned.

A long pause crossed between them, each man eyeing the other silently.

“It’s more like I’ve got something on him,” Cervelli broke the silence. “I’ve been fixing a few things along the way for him for quite a while and I’ve been a large contributor to his political career.”

“Oh yeah,” the realization flashed across Federici’s face. “I’d forgotten momentarily. It was in your territory of Illinois where he was the governor.”

“The most corrupt state in the Union,” Cervelli noted, as he raised his glass.

“It’s the most corrupt thanks to you,” Federici chuckled, “and our offshore bank accounts are forever grateful.”

“Yeah, I know what you mean though about not remembering,” Cervelli nodded.

“Yeah, there are so many politicians our organizations have in each other’s pocket it really becomes difficult to remember each other’s political hacks.”

They each finished off their drinks, as Federici reached out and Cervelli handed him his glass.

“Join me in another?”

“Sure, not a problem,” Cervelli replied with a tilt of his head toward the door, “I have a designated driver outside.”

Federici chuckled, “Like we’d be in trouble with the law if we ever got pulled over.”

When Federici returned and handed Cervelli his second scotch on the rocks he sat down and took a sip of his second drink. Cervelli noted the hint of puzzlement on his colleagues face, and asked, “So what do you think?”

Federici shook his head...his silver-white strands glistening in the lamp light. “I’m thinking…why us? I mean I don’t get it. The CIA, the FBI, NSA, Special Ops, hell, they have plenty of scum working for them that could do this sort of thing. Why not use them? They could even use guys who are retired or those sadists they use when they outsource an operation. Why come to you? You don’t think this is a setup, do you? Are we walking into a possible trap?”

“Oh, believe me, I’ve considered that. I always consider that!” Cervelli repeated for emphasis. “I’m not sure if it’s a trap or not, but we could find out easily enough by a test run. Anyway, the reason the VP came to me is they don’t want to use government people for the reason they’ve been saying for a hundred years…”

“They don’t want any government hands on it in case it gets out one day,” Federici interjected.

“Yeah,” Cervelli nodded.

“I don’t know, I don’t know,” Federici repeated as he shook his head. “There’s a stench rising on this and it smells a lot like the Castro fiasco to me,” said Federici.

Cervelli scoffed.

“They hired our predecessors to hit Castro,” Federici noted.

“But the Castro thing never worked for the government, because our predecessors merely went through the motions. They feigned efforts to hit Castro, and then turned around and sold Castro munitions and continued the drug trade.”

“That was a thing of beauty, wasn’t it?” Federici said, as he abruptly changed his tone from being momentarily skeptical to reflecting in pride of what previously occurred.

“Yeah, the forerunners of our organization were good teachers,” noted Cervelli. “Those who have studied them have learned a lot on operational strategies. Before I take a job I often consider being in their shoes and think about what they might have done.”

“I’ve sometimes wondered about your process. That’s interesting. You have a good business model to work with. I’ve also wondered if our predecessors knew how really cunning they were?” Federici asked rhetorically.

Cervelli smirked. It was the closest he’d come to smiling since he arrived. “Oh, they knew all right.”

“Maybe they were too smart for their own good for those of us who followed in their footsteps,” Federici commented. Joseph Federici was referring to RICO...an acronym for Racketeer Influenced and Corrupt Organizations Act. The evolution of the RICO Act could be traced directly to that fateful November day in Dallas. Two days later conspiracy theories gained traction when Lee Harvey Oswald was silenced in the basement of the Dallas Police Station less than forty-eight hours after the assassination.

The pressure mounted quickly on President Lyndon Johnson and he appointed the members of the Warren Commission to investigate the assassination. One of the members was former head of the CIA, Allen Dulles. Dulles dutifully kept the lid on the CIA/mob attempts to hit Castro, steered the investigation away from any connection with Castro and consequently the Commission never learned of that nefarious association between the U.S. Government and organized crime. But others within the government did learn about it and knew long before the public did. Members of the U.S. Intelligence community absolutely freaked out when they became aware of the extent to which the mafia had so permeated the U.S. way of life...so much so that organized crime could assassinate a U.S. president and literally get away with it.

As much as the government was appalled with the situation, they knew the American public would go ape-shit if they ever learned organized crime assassinated their President…an organization that was at least in part sanctioned by the U.S. government. The bizarre nature of that association was mind boggling.

So, the government acted. It took a half dozen years but in 1970 Congress passed the RICO Act. It is composed of a group of thirty-five crimes constructed to fight organized crime of which twenty-seven are federal laws. Crimes such as arson, counterfeiting, gambling, extortion, murder, bribery, prostitution and drug dealing to name a few were included.

Though those crimes were already on the books and far from unique, the great distinction of the RICO Act and what set it apart from all of the crimes contained therein was that no longer did law enforcement have to limit their investigations to individuals committing those crimes---now they could go after organizations involved in systematic illegal activities. That was a huge distinction! An organization could now be held accountable for the actions of its members.

Thus, the genesis of the RICO Act became the greatest secret of the Kennedy assassination.

Among those convicted under the RICO Act were Frank Tieri in New York, Ronal Trucchio, Terry Scaglione, Steven Catallono, and Kevin McMahon Tampa Florida, Joseph Lombardo and James Marcello of the Chicago Outfit. All of whom were sentenced to life in prison.

Though these convictions and others delivered a severe strike against organized crime, the mafia in America was by no means eliminated. Individuals and their organizations had to be investigated, cases built, charges brought and then proven in court.

Now, a new breed of mobster has ascended to the leadership of organized crime starting new crime families. They are much more careful than their predecessors and beyond that…the new bosses learned a great deal from their forerunners. They studied them; they learned what could work and what wouldn’t work under today’s present laws.

They understand why some like Bugsy Siegel was hit by the very organization that financed his Las Vegas operation, while Al Capone was pinched by the government and sent to Alcatraz for tax evasion.

They understand why John Gotti of the Gambino family was nothing more than a goon for ordering Paul Castellano to be gunned down in the streets of New York City and thus casting a lot of light on the organization. His leadership lasted just a few short years before he was sent to prison for life.

Yes, the modern mobster actually studied history, though it was the history of the mob to be sure.

The modern mobster is most interested in studying those like Tony Accardo and Meyer Lansky who never spent a day in jail. Those are the ones they admire most, the ones they emulate, and of course the granddaddy of them all…Lucky Luciano.

The current mob bosses are very smart indeed. They are college educated many of whom possess Masters Degrees…some even a doctorate…and they have learned a great deal from their predecessors. These are not goons who murder their way to the top of the ranks, though murder they most certainly exercise as one of their tools. The current breed of crime boss is very cunning. They know how to run legitimate businesses to cover their tracks. Though they may operate differently and their appearance has certainly changed from that of the stereotypical gangster, they are as ruthless and deadly as those who preceded them.

Additionally, the modern bosses have gone global. Now they live offshore and when they do hire a hit man, it’s someone brought in from overseas…France and Eastern European countries are among their favorites. These are men, with a sprinkling of female assassins, who cannot be tied to their organizations because they are from the outside.

“Yeah, we’ll have to be very careful,” Cervelli snarled, as the muscles in his jaw contracted and his countenance changed into a look of horrid disgust, as he continued. “We can’t trust the VP any more than we can trust a cock roach, but he knows if we hook up he’ll never talk about it.”

“Damn straight he wouldn’t talk about it!” said Federici, as he considered what Cervelli had conveyed to him.

“We’ll need Trabucco,” said Cervelli, referring to Anthony ‘The Brutalizer’ Trabucco, the head of the southwest arm of the organization. He was dubbed ‘The Brutalizer’ because of the special, personal delight he took in eliminating his adversaries.

“You are closer to Trabucco than I am,” said Cervelli.

“You can’t be serious?” said Federici.

Cervelli eyed his associate in silence.

“I thought you were in the consideration stage of merely thinking about this project.”

“I am,” Cervelli stated without emotion.

“But why would Trabucco do this? Why would any of us do this?” Federici pressed him.

“Quite simply for one of the basic tenets of our business,” said Cervelli.

“Well, spell it out for me,” Federici snarled back at him, as the agitation in his voice grew more evident.

“Insurance,” Cervelli specified, and added, “It’s like we both just agreed---the VP would never talk about it.”

Joseph Federici took a sip of his drink and considered that. His curiosity was certainly heightened when Cervelli mentioned that magical word which means so much to those in the crime business. “Go on,” Federici prompted him.

Cervelli proceeded to explain. “Trabucco has all the Mexicans that would be needed for this. Think about it. Mexicans hitting Mexicans,” Cervelli shrugged, “Who gives a shit?”

Federici nodded, and acknowledged his colleague’s sentiment.

“They’re killing each other all the time and we protect ourselves by not being tied to them,” noted Cervelli.

“Hmm,” muttered Federici, as he contemplated that point while taking another sip of his drink.

Cervelli continued. “Nothing tracks back to you or to me or to anyone else.”

“Just how do you insure that?” asked Federici, as he desired more details.

“We don’t actually go through with the plan.”

“Huh?”

“We only make it look like we’re playing along.”

“But…”

“Just like Castro,” Cervelli stated with an icy glare.

Federici’s eyebrows arose in surprise; he had not expected that answer. “Now you’ve really intrigued me,” said Federici, as he eyed his colleague with keen interest.

“To make it look good, we hit a few wetbacks. No big deal. Plant some drugs on them. That way it makes it look like we’re going along with it. In the mean time we bring more into the country than we do now.”

Joseph Federici leaned back in his chair. “Humph, it almost sounds too simple to work, but I do like the sound of what you’re saying.”

“And they don’t dare prosecute us…for anything…because they will have hooked up with us and they could never afford to let that get out.”

“Again, just like Castro,” Federici replied, his eyes now beginning to sparkle with the possibilities, as he noticed Cervelli didn’t appear pleased at all…as he never did. “It’s risky, but you’re right! We could do almost anything we want and they wouldn’t dare prosecute us. They couldn’t afford to ever let this go public,” Federici noted.

Cervelli’s eyes flashed triumphantly as if a victory had already been won. A tenet of his was---if he could convince another mob boss, even with the details yet to be worked out, the plan had merit.

“Okay, I’ll contact Trabucco to see what he thinks, but what about Allajandro? Should we bring him on this?” asked Federici, referring to one of the heads of the Mexican mob.

“Let’s first ask Trabucco what he thinks about doing that,” said Cervelli. “Not only are you closer to Trabucco than I am, he’s closer to Allajandro than either of us.”

“Okay, I’ll ask him,” said Joseph Federici, as he lifted his glass, and said, “Here’s to the Mexican scam.”

Cervelli lifted his glass in kind, and replied, “And here’s to hundreds of millions of dollars to us.”

Note: (This full length novel is available for the Kindle through Amazon.com, for the Nook through Barnes and Noble.com and your favorite store for iPad books along with free previews at each of those sites. On this website it is available only in Adobe Acrobat PDF format.)



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This product was added to our catalog on Saturday 19 July, 2014.
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