Detective Marcus Jackson’s POV
Since I was the one who called the DEA, I was also the one tasked to pick the Director up from the airport and bring him back to meet my temporary boss. I flashed my badge at the airport and waited at the terminal for his redeye flight to arrive. I’d never met Director Frank Grimes before, but I recognized Frank Donovan as he walked out with him. They had the nicer suits of agents who were no longer in the field. “Frank,” I said as they both turned to me.
“Hey Marcus,” Donovan said as he reached out his hand. “This is DEA Director Frank Grimes, head of the Southern California sector.”
“Welcome to Orlando, sir. How was the flight?”
He looked at me, then relaxed. “Not bad for a redeye, no crying babies and less than half full.” Neither had checked bags, so we left quickly and got into my car which was parked outside baggage claim in the police-only parking. He spent most of the time talking on the phone with the team of agents from the Miami office that had arrived last night. I’d gotten the call when they had shown up at the hospital to take over security for Harleigh’s hospital room. She still hadn’t regained consciousness, and the doctors said only her helmet and the first aid she was given after the crash had kept her alive.
The supervisor of the Miami agents, Senior Agent Felix Martinez, quickly worked out a schedule with the Orlando night shift to share the burden of the protection detail. We weren’t allowing visitors except for her immediate family, and the Lieutenant wasn’t happy about who that family was. “You couldn’t have told me that the fucking Club President was her UNCLE,” he had yelled over the phone when he found out.
“I don’t know them that well, no one ever brought it up,” I said. “I’d only seen Sean and Kelly a few times at parties and rides. The girl, she was watched over by the whole Club, not just her parents. I asked one of the younger guys I was drinking with once why he didn’t ask her out, and he said he didn’t want to take the beating the Club would give him if he tried.”
That was late last night. I’d caught a few hours of sleep, then drove straight to the airport. Along the way, I called one of the other Detectives and was brought up to speed, which was the first thing the Director wanted to know after we pulled out into traffic.
“The man who was injured threw a blood clot last night and coded out before we could interview him. All three of the dead men were from the San Antonio chapter of the Sons of Tezcatlipoca, all had criminal records and were patched members. My contacts in Texas didn’t have anything special on them, they were soldiers and had done time for drugs, assault and one for manslaughter.”
“I checked on our friend Jesus Correria,” the Director said. “His lawyers got one of the charges tossed, and with time served he was released last month. Other than the threat and the Club, do we have any evidence he is involved?”
“If he was, he’s the guy who got away,” I said. “There was blood spatter from where the mystery man was shot. If he was in the system, you have his DNA, right?” The Director nodded. “I’m pretty sure they have sent it off for testing, but I’ll make sure.”
“Did the girl see them? Can she identify him?”
“She is still unconscious,” I said. “She was shot just before exiting her driveway, we didn’t have any evidence she even got off her motorcycle before they were after her.” I pulled out the crime scene photos and handed them back. “They’re pretty bad. They either wanted something from him, or they wanted to make him suffer.”
There was silence as the two men looked through the photos. “You need these?”
“They’re your copies. After your call to our Chief last night, we are fully cooperating with any and all Federal authorities on this investigation. We still have the lead unless it ties back to what happened during his Federal time.”
“Well, the DEA is taking over the investigation as soon as we arrive,” Director Frank said. “No signs of burglary, just straight torture. The Sons are known for their punishments; they kill a man’s entire family in front of him before they finally let him die. If they had captured his daughter, she would have suffered greatly before they killed her.”
“Why do you think this is related to his DEA time?”
He waited until I was at a stoplight, then handed me one of the photographs. “Do you see what is carved on his right cheek?”
There were three concentric circles cut into the skin, and the gunshot that had killed him had gone through the center. There was also a single slash that went from the 3 o’clock to 7 o’clock position, the line extending about an inch beyond the outer circle at each end. “Yeah, they marked the bullseye?”
He took it back as the light turned green. “No. The symbol is the Aztec eye, the all-seeing eye of God. What it means is that they saw what he did, and he is dying for it. They use it against traitors, informers and cops.” I gripped the steering wheel tighter. “It was a message to everyone that even now, decades after he was put in jail, they will have their vengeance.”
“Fuck.” I was glad we were almost to the police station. I called in and told them we were arriving, and as we walked in the Chief and the Lieutenant were both there. Also part of the introductions were the homicide detectives from Winter Park, the rest of our team and the DEA team from Miami. “Chief Wiggems, Lieutenant Reynolds, this is Director Frank Grimes and Senior Agent Frank Donovan of the Los Angeles Drug Enforcement Agency,” I said as I introduced them.
“Let’s get into conference, there’s a story to tell,” the Director said. I had to agree. We all filed into the Chief’s meeting room. As the coffee was poured and donuts snatched before sitting down, I made it a point to sit next to my friend Frank along the DEA side of the table. He pulled a laptop out of his briefcase and connected it to the large LED TV on the end wall. The DEA logo came up as he stood and walked to the front. “First thing first, this is now a Federal matter. As I explained to Detective Jackson, there is history between the Sons of Tezcatlipoca and former DEA Agent Sean Ryder from his time as an undercover agent. The method of death shows this is a revenge killing, and since he was one of ours and the Sons are based out of Mexico, it’s our jurisdiction.”
“Wait a minute, these murders happened in Winter Park, we should have the lead,” their Detective said. “The deaths in Orlando were in self-defense, I heard the State’s Attorney isn’t even pressing charges.”
That was news to me, but good news. “They gave statements?”
“Late last night,” Lieutenant Reynolds said. “They came in with their lawyers and laid it out. The bartender got a call from Harleigh saying the Sons of Tezcatlipoca had been at her parent’s house, she’d been shot and was being chased by them. There were six men there who grabbed weapons and went out to protect her. As soon as she was through the gate, they opened fire on the four bikers chasing her and got three. They provided surveillance camera video that showed it all, and phone records showed Harleigh called the clubhouse twice; once just down the street from her house, the other about a quarter mile away. Given that she had already been shot and was being chased by an outlaw biker gang, the States Attorney agreed the shootings were justified.”
“You didn’t get them on weapons possession or anything?” The Winter Park chief wanted all bikers locked up, thinking their presence brought trouble.
Our Chief shook his head no. “The firearms were all legally purchased. The Mossberg combat shotgun is kept under the bar, and the Club has a gun safe for member use. We had no reason to hold them. Once the paperwork is cleared, we’ll have to return the seized weapons.” I had to smile at this, the club was solidly on the right side of the law. Once the story hit the news today, nobody was going to prosecute. Not when a young woman had her family killed and almost died herself. “Hell, I’m going to buy them a drink when this is all over. One guy was a former Designated Marksman in his unit during the Afghan war. He took out a man riding at high speed from 150 yards out with a bolt-action hunting rifle and one shot. The men they killed were hard-core criminals, and our city is safer with them gone.”
Hell yeah. The Club felt the same, I bet. The four who had held off the attackers wouldn’t have to buy their own beers for a long time.
“Back on topic,” the Director said. He passed out the crime scene photo I’d given him showing Sean’s face with the carving and the entrance wound as he put a map of the biker gang’s chapters on the screen. “The Sons of Tezcatlipoca are a violent motorcycle gang that started in Mexico in 1972. They spread north, reaching California in 1979 and Texas in 1981. They now have fourteen chapters in the United States, as far east as Louisiana and as far north as Denver. The highest concentration of members is in southern California. Estimates are that they have four hundred active members in the USA, and about as affiliated. Numbers in Mexico are slightly higher, and they move back and forth across the border as easily as the drugs they run do. At least two hundred are in prison, where they are affiliated with the Mexican Mafia. The gang works closely with the Sinaloa cartel, providing distribution into the western United States. They are also involved with human trafficking, extortion and all the other rackets you might expect.”
“Have you been able to penetrate their organization?”
“No, it’s been very difficult. They recruit mainly out of the prisons and local gangs. They are backed by the power of the Cartel, who have impressive intelligence operations and the ability to do complete background checks on prospects. Prospects are also required to take drugs and kill for the Club before being patched, which they know law enforcement cannot do. We lost three agents trying to infiltrate their organization before we gave up. The last attempt was two years ago. Compared to other Clubs, they are smaller and inspire greater loyalty. The ties across the border and in prisons help with this, as does their policy on informers and traitors.”
He pulled up another photo, one that made even experienced cops regret the donut they just ate. “This is what they did to one of their members who vouched for the last agent we tried to get into their Club.” The scene was horrifying; the man had been nailed to the wall using timber spikes into the studs, his chest sliced dozens of times and his intestines piled on the floor below him. The next photo showed his wife, son and daughter. “The wife and seven-year-old daughter were gang-raped and slaughtered, their twelve-year-old son was blinded and then had his throat cut.”
“Fucking animals,” one of the men said.
“This is who you are dealing with.” He flipped to a close-up of the man’s face. “Recognize this?” The man’s face had the same three concentric circles with the line, but this time a combat knife was plunged into the center to kill him. “The carving is the same as you found on Mr. Ryder. It’s the Aztec eye of God, the all-seeing eye. It means they saw and know what he did, and by killing him through that eye, they are cursing him for what he has done. It’s how they deal with traitors, cowards, informers and cops.”
“Shit,” the Winter Park detective said. “What did Sean Ryder do to piss them off like this?”
“Sean was the most successful undercover agent the DEA ever placed within the Satan’s Riders motorcycle gang,” he said.
“Exactly. They were a smaller club out of San Diego in the eighties, heavily involved in methamphetamine manufacturing and distribution. Sean spent two years working his way into the gang, and after being patched in they put him in charge of the books. He’d been patched for eight months when the Club was patched over by the Prussians. The change put Sean in a position to monitor drug trafficking on the West Coast, including product delivered to the gangs by the Sons of Tezcatlipoca.”
I thought about it for a minute. “He testified against the Sons?”
“He didn’t have to. Using his information, we set up a raid on a safe house the Sons were using before making the transfer to the Prussians. He managed to insert an advanced listening device and tracker into the bag used to carry the money after the buy; it got past their bug sniffer and led us right to the safe house we’d been looking for. The raid was successful but costly; we recovered the money, seized a hundred kilos of cocaine, and arrested fourteen members of the Club, but we didn’t know there were Old Ladies there. One of our agents had to open fire, and a round went through the wall and struck Maria Correria in the head as she held their baby daughter. Jesus was convicted of multiple crimes and sentenced to forty years, but he blamed the raid on the agent that infiltrated the Prussians and set them up. The undercover work came out in discovery when we filed charges; his cover was blown, and David Sanders was pulled from the field permanently. That was his birth name, his road name was 'Sandman'.”
“So they’ve been waiting all this time for Jesus to get out of prison,” the Chief asked.
“Maybe. The work he had done made it impossible to keep him safe, and he had started dating his wife during the trial preparations. After the trials were over, both were given new identities and new lives. Sean stayed with the DEA, far from California, and Kelly started working in private practice. The identities were protected at the highest levels for their own safety. Only a handful of people, including me, knew who he really was and what he had done for us.”
“How did you know,” I asked.
“I was the one who recruited him, trained him and ran his undercover operation. I spent five years working with him, and he was the finest agent I’ve ever been associated with. He was also a friend, they both were, and he deserved better than this.” He tossed the crime scene photo on the desk. Nobody knew what to say to this, he was right.
He told the DEA agents to leave the room, and they reluctantly complied. “Sean and Kelly were smart and careful, and I can’t believe this was luck. Someone gave them up for the Sons of Tezcatlipoca to find them here.” He looked at us. “This doesn’t leave the room. There’s a traitor somewhere in the DEA or the Federal Marshalls, and I have to flush him out. In the meantime, I’m going to order that my men pair up with yours during the investigation. Don’t let them out of your sight, and don’t tell them I told you this. The only chance I have to find the mole is to find out where the Sons got their information.”