Friday, December 7, 2012

Smoke Filled Rooms (part 2)

By ACI for Borderland Beat

For Part 1 click here
For Ibarra story click here

Jack stared at the screen, some joke he thought. Jack had been living a good life after receiving his reward. He dismissed the email and went about his day. Jack was what some might call a con. He had an affectionate relationship with gambling. When he lived in New York he would often gamble at Israeli run parking lots, stacking cards, dealing from the bottom, fleecing the naive and proud. He knew people, he could read them, but that was of little help when reading email. Jack was also adapt at the slow con, which given his terrible anxiety, seems out of place. He never left a room with out some sorted collection of benzos to battle it. But that is a story for another time.

Ivan couldn't believe his predicament. The DEA fucked him. He wished he could kill every single one of them. Why did they do this to him? He did his fucking job, he raged, how dare they? He led them right to the bastard and they leave him with nothing. Fuck them he thought. He was counting on that money. They seized millions in assests and he’d planned on getting a piece, what the fuck happened? Those filthy, lying thieves took it all for themselves. Now he was fucked, leveraged to the hilt, it felt like the whole world was falling down around him. If he didn't get cash soon he would be in too deep to get out and he knew it.

One night while drinking beers and surfing the web he came across a website. It talked about a man who fought the Canadian reward system and won. As the buzz from the Modelo settled in, his anger stewed. Fuck the DEA, all they did was lie, cheat and steal from me, maybe Canada would be different? He didn't know this guy but he was desperate and a little drunk. This was one hell of a risk, he had no idea what would happen. As the beer bottles began to pile up, he sent an email. It was then he began talking to a man named Jack.

Ivan originally thought Jack was Canadian and that he could somehow help get Ivan a reward. He began by sending information on a man Ivan claimed was major player in Canada. Jack still thought he was dealing with some nutcase, he had no idea this man Ivan was in fact the man he claimed to be. But the emails persisted, after a while Jack began listening to Ivan with less skepticism.

Jack would learn that Ivan was part of a tangled web of connections, wealth, narcos and of course greed and betrayal. Ivan came from a well known and famously connected family. His grandfather was a high ranking associate of a previous President. A symbol of what is wrong in Mexico. He was what some “analysts” might call a kingmaker of druglords. But to say that isn't correct. He wielded less power than one would think. He simply met with people and talked to his friends, making deals over champagne and caviar. He would listen to any offer, and offers were rarely denied, the unlucky simply got screwed over. This is the game which is played. He was still a puppet to those beyond him but that wasn't the way he saw it. And even if he was he didn't care, ego blinds many men.

This story is more about a man who tired to play all sides, using his connections to broker deals. He claimed he was independent, working alone and that he would work for anyone willing to pay. He played for both the Sinaloa Cartel and Los Zetas. This put him in the odd position of having more knowledge than one would think logical. Even more confounding was that he was able to live knowing such things. He was also courting the DEA, which made the game Ivan played appear even more foolish.

Monday, December 3, 2012

Smoke Filled Rooms (part 1)

By ACI for Borderland Beat

It’s no secret that the drug war is a dirty war. A war fought with deception, betrayal and lies. As in any war information is often the single most prized possession. This war is no different. Informants may be the single most important asset the government possesses. These people are not angles; they are often narcos, killers or any range of unsavory and unpleasant characters. They provide information for gain not for justice.
Informants by their very nature are part of the mechanism the government is trying to defeat. This is the beginning of a series that illustrates the role one informant played in this ever evolving and ever changing war. The following story is based on truth and it all started with an email.
Somewhere in Mexico
He stared at his computer screen; watching the curser blink. In all of his years doing this kind of work he never thought he would do this. An unsettling feeling set in; a combination of fear, excitement and betrayal. The room was dark, the only light coming from the screen on the computer. It was set up in a corner of the room and it was ancient. The fan inside made an awful humming sound, a small radio played music in the background.
The room itself wasn’t big; maybe 10 by 12 feet, the walls were bare except for a picture of the Virgin Mary in the center of a wall. The room had tiles floors, not much in the way of furniture. A mattress on the floor was covered by mound of sheets and cloths. A few religious candles lay on the floor. In the corner of the room was a small alter. A statue of Santa Muerte was at the center. It was surrounded with little offerings, several candles, some pesos, and a few pictures of Jesus Malverde. There was no need to guess his occupation.
Papers littered the floors; boxes filled with files were everywhere. Many would kill for these files. Old beer cans overflowing with cigarettes butts covered the desk. There he sat, staring through the smoke at the screen. The cursor continued to blink off and on the send button. He knew once he sent this it would be final, it could not be undone. But this information was worth money; a lot of money. He sat in his chair; smoke rose in front of his face, his wire rimmed glasses reflected what was on the screen. The ash on the end of his cigarette fell on to his lap, he wiped it away, and pondered what his next move was.
There was someone who could help, someone who knew what to do with information. It was through his sister that he learned of a man, someone with the knowhow to take his information and convert it into money. He was hesitant and scared. This wasn’t about doing the right thing; this was about money, pure and simple. He would try to tell himself he was righting his wrongs but he knew that was a lie. He knew the risk he was about to take, he knew that he was putting those around him in danger. After that thought the pit in his stomach grew and a bead of sweet ran down his brow, he wiped it away with his arm. Was this worth it? Could this man be trusted?
Trust means something else when your life is on the line. He thought how most people take this granted. He sure did, he thought of the time when his girlfriend cheated on him. A smirk came across his face. Those were the simpler times when misplaced trust ended in a broken heart not a death sentence. But this was an entirely different game, one which his life hung in the balance. If this man wasn’t who he said he was he knew he was a dead man.
He pressed the send button; there was no turning back now.

Somewhere in the US

Jackk had lived quite the life. If he told his life story no one would believe him, I didn’t at first. Most would assume that he is some made up character in some crime novel. It was the stuff movies are made of. His life has been a tangled web of coincidence and luck. Through a series of events he ended up being a CI or confidential informant for the FBI. The case would end up shaping Jack’s life and world.

Jack was picked purely because he knew the people that surrounding the government’s target. The government thought Jack could get them access to a dangerous man on the run. And they were right; with Jacks assistance the government finally arrested a man they have been hunting for years. There was a substantial reward being offered and Jack wanted his piece. Jack assumed as most would that upon the capture he would receive his reward. One might assume that a check would be sent out upon request, this however did not happen. It took years for the reward to pay out and it was though this experience that Jack learned how the system worked.

Jack had several articles written about his struggle to obtain the reward, he exposed a system few talk about. He gained recognition for his struggle. Then one day he received an email. It was from a man in Mexico. The email simply stated; I know a man from Colombia who smuggles fifty tons of coke into the US regularly and I know where he is, regards Ivan.
To be continued....