Orlando Steel Brotherhood Chapter
It was a good thing the new Clubhouse was much bigger than the last one because it was turning into a fucking convention around here.
After the bodies of the Brothers had been returned to their home Chapters for burial, the Club Presidents had a conference call. Our Club was under threat, the cops were after us, and we needed help. When one of the Chapters was in trouble, we all helped out. It was part of being part of our Club.
So, the Clubs and the Nomads started sending help. We had three dozen men show up today and fourteen Ladies. We were keeping over a dozen men on armed watch at a time, more at night. The Ladies had expanded the overwhelmed kitchen, drafting men to build a large barbecue pit in the back. I was spending a lot of money on food and beer, but it was well spent. Nobody was going to attack us again, not with the show of force we had on display.
Our relationship with the lower-level cops was still good, but the Chief still had it out for my Club and me. He’d been by this morning, shortly after the news of the raids on all the chapters of the Sons of Tezcatlipoca. We’d watched the coverage of the drug raid and the chapter raids with a mix of elation and apprehension. Seeing an outlaw club like that go down felt great, but hearing many of the leaders were still at large left a pit in my stomach.
I hated that I didn’t have Three Tequila by my side while the Club was in danger.
I’d told the other girls the T was visiting friends in Atlanta. I had no idea how long she would be in Minnesota, but I hoped like hell she saw Harleigh while she was there. Losing her sister’s family had crushed her. When Agent Donovan told us she was still alive, some of her old spark came back to her eyes.
My phone vibrated in my pocket; I’d been getting lots of texts from my buddies in other clubs, so I didn’t pull it out until I was done talking with Tripod. “Need a ride home,” said the text from Three T. I smiled and called a couple of prospects over from where they were working the bar. Scott was mine, and Paul was from the Jacksonville club. I walked them out the back. “You have a car, right?” Prospects couldn’t ride yet, they usually drove a Club van, but those were burned up in the fire. I didn’t have the insurance settlements to buy new ones yet.
Scott nodded. “Yeah, the Explorer over there,” he said.
“Go to the private airfield and pick up Three Tequila. Bring her straight here, and don’t text or tell anyone what is going on. Make sure you aren’t tailed, from here or there. You guys packing?”
Scott moved his Brotherhood Prospect cut aside; he had a Colt 1911 in a shoulder holster. Paul patted behind his right hip. “We both have our permits.” I knew they would; a carry permit was a better background check for our Club than anything else. We didn’t want guys with records. We wanted guys we could trust with guns.
“Keep her out of sight and keep her safe.” They walked off to his SUV while I went back inside. The burgers on the grill and the charcoal smell were making me hungry.
“Boss, the DEA is here for you,” one of the guys on guard duty by the roll-up door to the big warehouse area of our building said.
“OK.” I waved Tripod over as I went to get Eclipse from the table he was sitting at. Eclipse was the Southeast Region President of the Brotherhood, and a good man. “The DEA guy is here, let’s see what he has to say.”
I recognized Senior Agent Frank Donovan immediately and waved him in. “You remember my VP, Tripod, and Eclipse, our Regional President,” I said as he shook their hands.
“I do. Is there someplace private we can talk?”
“Sure.” I led them all back to my office, and we all sat in the chairs. “What can I do for you?”
“I know you’ve been following the news, and it’s not been a good day for us.” I nodded; losing seven officers was a blow. One SWAT team member in Denver hadn’t made it through surgery, adding to the two in LA, three in a major Houston gun battle, and one in Phoenix. “Sixty-one Sons are confirmed dead, and over 200 are under arrest. It sounds impressive until you spread it over fifteen chapters. We’ve only accounted for about 20 members per chapter, and most Chapters have between twenty-five and a hundred members.”
“That’s not very reassuring, Frank.”
He nodded as he pulled a sheaf of papers out of his briefcase. “You guys are still in the crosshairs of these men, so you know what you’re facing.” He handed the stack over, and I flipped through it; the cover photo I recognized, a mug shot of Jesus Correria. “These are the ones in leadership we didn’t get, and the known members we had photographs available. We’ve got active warrants out for all of them, but if you spot any?”
“We’ll call 911,” I said. “At this point, we’re on a razor’s edge with the Orlando Police. Our neighbors and some nearby residents aren’t happy with us being here. I’m already hearing threats of the City changing zoning ordinances so our Clubhouse wouldn’t be allowed in city limits.”
“I’m not shocked, but I hope it doesn’t happen. Not everybody recognizes the kind of Club you are, but Sean wouldn’t have joined you if you were dirty.” He sat back, and I could see things were wearing heavily on him. “If you have any questions, go through me. Director Grimes is suspended pending completion of an investigation.”
My jaw dropped. “What the fuck would he be under investigation for?”
“Keep this quiet, but with eight officers dead, the circumstances of the raids are coming into play. It was Frank who got the tip on the drug warehouse in Oakland, and then he got ahold of financial records from offshore banks that implicated the Chapters in the drug running and money laundering.”
“That’s good, isn’t it,” Eclipse asked.
“It’s awfully convenient. The Chapters were barricaded inside and ready for a raid, and some in Justice thought the Sons were tipped off that the raids were coming.”
“After the raid on the drug warehouse, they kind of expected it, didn’t they?”
“They got a warrant for his home and cell phone. Word is there were conversations and texts to and from a burner phone which is now dead. The last text was a warning the raid would be at six.” He leaned forward, his head in his hands. “He admitted sending it, but refused to say who it was he sent it to. That’s why he’s suspended now.”
Fuck. It must have been Chase. “Grimes hates these guys; he’d never help them out.”
“I know that, but it gets worse. The phone Grimes sent the warning to was in the Los Angeles area, in Long Beach. There was a building two blocks away, close enough so the drone we had overhead occasionally got a look at it. We found a tunnel that led to it. That’s how the leadership escaped, there was a hatch in the President’s office, and it went underground until it came up in a back room of the other warehouse.”
“Did you get them escaping on camera?”
“Worse than that. The views were intermittent as the drone moved around, but in one segment we saw men rushing the building. Thirty seconds later, there were inside. Within three minutes, a U-Haul pulled up and departed. The last view we had was of a wounded man and another helping him run down the road, both dressed all in black and carrying weapons. Inside the warehouse were seven dead men, one the Master at Arms of the Los Angeles chapter. He was wearing a bulletproof vest that stopped the two pistol rounds to the chest, but couldn’t stop the 9mm round to his face.”
I didn’t know what to think of it. “What does that mean?”
“We think the Sons were hiding something in the warehouse, something valuable like drugs or cash. Somebody else hit them while we were raiding the Clubhouse, someone very professional. They killed the men in the warehouse and the first guy through the tunnel, then left with whatever it was.”
The light came on. “So the Prosecutors don’t think he tipped off the Sons, they think he helped someone else rip the Sons off.”
“Maybe both. The more the Sons fight, the better the distraction for what they are doing two blocks away.” He looked at me; I could see the pain in his eyes. “If they can show that he conspired to endanger officers in the raid, it could get serious for him. He could be facing murder charges.”
What a shitstorm. If I was a betting man, Chase was the man he was talking with, and the man he was protecting. If Grimes rolled on him, the blowback would be significant. Yes, Chase had resigned from the Club, but that wouldn’t appease prosecutors on the warpath. “Is there anything we can do to help?”
“Keep your heads down,” he said. “Once this thing gets rolling, it’s going to roll over everything in its path.”
“No shit. You keep your head down too.” I left the other two in my office as I walked him out. As we were alone and outside, I spoke quietly to him. “Message has been delivered. Thank you.”
“Just keep your people safe, I hate fucking funerals,” he said. He walked out the gate, and we closed and padlocked it behind him. My head was spinning as I walked back inside.
Tripod stopped me before I went back in. “I’ve got a guy checking for bugs,” he said.
“Donovan wouldn’t do that,” I said. I let out a sigh. “Trust, but verify.”
“Exactly,” Eclipse said. A minute later, our man came out with a thumbs up. We went back in. “He’s stirring up the shit, isn’t he?”
“Yeah. I’m pretty sure he had help with the spoon, too.” Chase had told us he had resources we didn’t have, and he was proving it. I was pretty sure that whatever it was that had disappeared from the Sons warehouse had ended up under his control.
There was a panicked knock on the door; nodding to Tripod, I had him open it. “OH THANK YOU,” a crying Bowlegs said as she ran into Tripod’s arms.
“Ummm… for what, baby?”
“I can’t believe you guys,” she said as she wiped tears away. “I know you set up Go Fund Me pages for the families of those killed, but I never expected this kind of support!”
“Bowlegs, what the hell are you talking about?” She was crying so hard I couldn’t understand her. I knew about the pages; we’d put the Go Fund Me pages out to all the Chapters and in the news coverage. Not everyone had life insurance policies that were big enough to support their families. W did take care of a lot of the funeral costs with Club funds, but we couldn’t pay mortgages. When people asked what they could do to help, we referred them to the page. I pulled up the accounts, and I couldn’t say anything as well. “Well, suck me dry and call me Dusty,” I said. “Check this out!”
Eclipse whistled as he looked at the account summaries of each of the pages we’d set up. All were over $225,000, some pushing $300k. Clicking on the one for Harleigh, I could see all the donations from across the country and overseas. Some were only five or ten dollars, others up to a thousand. Then I saw the big one.
$224, 219.87 deposited from a Visa card.
I quickly checked the others; the same donation appeared on each of the pages.
“Who the fuck did that,” Eclipse asked in wonder.
“I don’t know, but they just made things a lot easier for our widows and orphans.”
“And raised a big red flag with the Feds,” he said.