“Morning, Banter. What’s up,” Bert said.
She heard a yawn through the phone.
“Breakthrough,” she said. “You need to pull up the aerial for this address.”
She gave him the address.
“I want Gary to take a look. I want him to see if he can tell how they are hiding them. I found the loading docks last night.”
“I meant this morning.”
She explained about the business card.
“Damn. Too bad you hadn’t looked at it early.”
“Don’t remind me. I’ll come in as soon as I can.”
“I’ll let everyone know,” he said, ending the call.
Banter stared at her laptop.
“Go ahead and go in,” Corey said, causing her to jump.
He had his phone in his hand, but he wasn’t on a call.
“I can wait until Bea comes,” he said, stepping into the living room.
“What about all your meetings?”
“I can call in and direct them from here.”
She remained sitting while she thought.
“Go,” he said. “This is sounding big.”
“Almost overwhelming,” she said, thinking of all the drugs in the vans.
“Here’s the card. Enter it for evidence,” he said, handing it to her. “You might even get fingerprints. We both only handled it on the edge.”
She slipped a glove on and took the card, so she could slide it into a pocket.
“I’ll keep you in the loop with what is happening. See you boys later.”
She pulled on her other glove.
“Bye, Mom,” Kyle said.
“Later,” Colo said.
Corey walked her out. He kissed her before she got into her car. She drove off, realizing she needed to get gas, and she stopped at the local gas station.
While she pumped the gas, she thought about the drugs that were distributed last night. She always hated drugs and now that she had the boys, she was even more against them.
“I would do drug dealers for free,” she muttered. “Just like the sex offenders I used to hunt down.”
While she drove to work, she thought about what she used to do and what she did now.
“Sort of the same thing. We’re slowly taking the druggies and sex guys out of commission, but boy, my way got rid of them permanently. You’re lucky I have you Corey. I would be back out there hunting if it wasn’t for you.”
In the parking garage, she was able to park on the first floor. She jogged all the way up to the sixth floor, but no one was in sight. Her mood wasn’t improving. She let exasperation flow through her, but as soon as she unlocked her office door and sat at her desk, Bert appeared.
“There is not a loading dock in sight,” he said, putting a large detailed map on her desk.
“I want Gary to look at it and see if he can see it. Then I’ll show you exactly where it is. Let me look up a license plate.”
She was glad to find that Peter had completed his report which included the license plates on the vans.
“There were two vans parked out front of the address,” she said. “And this is one of the plates that I saw, and…”
She scanned the report.
“Yep, same as one that Peter saw.”
“Nice,” Bert said. “We needed some sort of breakthrough.”
“Are these recent maps?”
“Last summer,” he said.
“So they have been working at this for at least that long,” she said. “They’re operating right under the nose of the police just like I used to do.”
“Let’s put this in high gear,” he said, and he left her office.
She wasn’t quite sure what he meant, but fifteen minutes later, all the undercovers and Gary took over her office.
“We have really detailed satellite pictures,” Gary said. “Recent a couple of months ago and high resolution.”
He had a laptop and a large monitor that he hooked up.
Bert gave him the address. Gary pulled up the area. Banter could see his eyes darting around.
It only took him a few minutes to see it. He outlined the exact area with his finger.
“What are they using?” she said.
“Probably electromagnetic interference and a camo net.”
“I’m familiar with the electromagnetic stuff. I saw the antennas. But a camo net?”
“They have a net stretched over the area. If you were there at night, you would never have notice it. Heck, most people wouldn’t notice it during the day. It mimics a building from the air, but they screwed up. They shouldn’t have stretched it across the entire alley.”
“I am not seeing this,” Bert said.
“Nor am I,” Peter said.
Banter took one of the printed maps. She took a yellow highlighter and outlined where the open area of the loading docks was.
“This was really obvious this time,” Gary said.
“How so?” Bert said.
“The city doesn’t allow dead-end alleys. Like I said, they stretched the camo net too far over the alley. When you look at this map, you see what looks like a building in the middle, making it look like there are two dead-ends. You can see the garbage bins all the way along it. If this was really a dead-end, all the bins would be at the end where the garbage trucks can reach them. Garbage trucks won’t go in and then back up. It’s inefficient. Shit, they’re lazy. They’ll only go down a dead-end if there’s a turn-around.”
“Both Corey and I were there last night, and there was definitely no building. There was one security guard that told Corey to move on. He never saw me. And one fake camera to keep the guard honest.”
“A real camera isn’t going to work,” Gary said.
“Nor phone service and my bugs,” she added. “Also, this building had the building number I kept seeing. But I did walk the area and I saw all the antennas.”
“Antennas?” Peter said.
“The antennas are broadcasting the interference creating the dead zone. Let me mark them.”
“How did you find this?” Peter said.
“Remember that Friday night we went to the club? I got a card from the manager. I just glanced at it and left it on my dresser.”
“What did Corey think about that?”
“Nothing of it. He even missed the significance at the time. Simple little card held the information we needed,” she said.
“This is big,” Peter said.
“Ten block area,” she said, marking the last antenna. “I wonder what the occupants of the buildings think about their phones and wireless not working.”
“No, I mean this is big enough for that raid they want.”
“If he’s going to have me stand there like last night, then you’ll net a lot of drugs. Not sure if you’ll net the bigwigs, he thinks are involved. I haven’t seen anyone other than the drug lord, but if he’s running this operation, then he’s a big fish.”
“What does the operation look like?” Peter said. “How are they loading the vans?”
“It looked like only one loading dock is used that has a lift on it. They use a cart to unload out of the warehouse and then into the vans.”
“How are they getting the stuff to that warehouse?” he said.
“I’m betting they have nights where vans are bringing it in from mules,” Bert said.
“Don’t make assumptions,” she said.
“Why did he have you go early and not wait until Wednesday?” Peter said.
“Good question. Either he had deliveries he needed to make, or this was another test of my authenticity.”
“I bet tonight is a restocking night,” Bert said.
“That’s stuff I don’t know anything about,” she said.
“I’d bet on restocking,” Mark said.
“What’s the game plan?” she said. “So far I’m just a babysitter. Eventually, he’s going to want me to use my gun.”
“Waiting for Ray to come in. I also put out a message to John who is the head of the narcs. We’ll need his team.”
“I’ll leave this in case the bigwigs need to see,” Gary said.
“Thanks Gary,” Banter said.
Bert continued to stare at the satellite picture.
“This is amazing that I’m looking straight at it and it looks like a building,” he said.
The other undercovers settled at her table with their laptops. Banter moved to hers and started her report. She outlined everything that happened on her end, then started working on the report about finding the loading docks.
“Oh, shit. I have that business card if we want to check it for fingerprints.”
She still had her gloves on which allowed her to pull out the card. From her desk drawer, she pulled out a plastic sleeve and slid the card into it.
Peter picked it up.
“I figured WV stood for White Van. That’s all I saw last night was white vans.”
“Six were loaded. They came two at a time. And I saw two parked in front of this property. I verified one had a license plate you saw. Not sure if those were loaded or not. If not, then there are eight vans.”
“The one you came in and the one that brought you back,” he said.
“I’ll take this down to the lab guys,” Peter said.
He picked up his soda and left.
Banter realized she hadn’t gotten a soda yet.
“I’ll be right back,” she said.
She trotted up to the seventh floor.
“Hi, Nessa. Soda?”
“Sure. How are you liking sixth?”
“A lot of stairs.”
“Yeah, I take the stairs too. I’m going to stay in shape doing those.”
Banter could see that Corey’s office was full of people.
“All they do is meet.”
“They seemed to be getting results from what I can tell.”
“Good. Have a good one.”
Banter trotted back down to sixth. She could see that Ray was now in his office. A few minutes later, John, the Director of the Narcotics Team, passed her office. A few more top managers passed by.
“They’re going to have a big meeting about this and decide what to do without including any of the team members?” she said.
“About right,” Jose said with a chuckle.
“They’re just agreeing that a raid is required,” Bert said. “They’ll get us when they need to work on the specifics. With two locations, it’s going to take a lot of manpower.”
“And on short notice,” Mark said.
“The lab is a little busy, but they said, they would run tests on our card in an hour.”
Fifteen minutes later everyone filed out of Ray’s office.
“Come on out here,” Ray said, motioning for them to come out and join them.
Banter could see that just about every department was represented.
“I just need a summary to begin with,” Ray said.
“That would be Banter,” Bert said, gesturing toward her.
Banter gave an overview of the club and what she found.
“In order to infiltrate deeper, I went in as a gun-for-hire looking for work.”
She went through all the details and what she found, including how they were using the electromagnetic interference.
“We need two teams,” John said. “One for the club and one for the other location. I recommend we take over the club.”
“Take over? You mean stick in officers and keep it open?” Banter said.
“Yes. We’ll nail a few of the small guys that way,” he said.
“You’ll need someone with a handlebar mustache to be the manager,” she said. “That seems to be important.”
“Just what people do we need for the club?” John said.
He seemed to be the lead on this raid, and Ray was taking a step back. Banter found herself with all the undercovers, John, and a dozen other people.
“Each night is different,” she said. “Since we’re going in on a Wednesday, there will only be the manager and a single bartender. When I say one manager, I mean every night the manager is different and so is the bartender. You’ll also need people to fill up the tables up front. There is a small alcove off the bar that is for the real customers,” she said. “You might want to see some video if there’s time.”
“I’ll get that set up for anyone who wants to take a look,” Bert said, stepping away.
“Now, the loading docks,” John said.
A few people left the group, and others arrived to join them. Banter could see that one of the men who left was now briefing others on what she had said about the club.
“Okay, here’s the scoop on the loading docks…” she said.
Bert brought out the map with her highlighted area to show everyone while she explained about how the area was camouflaged and how antennas were used to block signals on tracking devices.
“I know Corey wants to be included,” she said.
Ray stormed over.
“What has Corey got to do with this?”
She felt some tension and wondered if there was a little rivalry between him and Corey. Or maybe he was feeling that too many hands were dipping into his area and stealing his thunder.
“Something to do with his wife who is not supposed to be working in the field, but is,” she said in a dangerous voice.
“You were a gun-for-hire,” Ray said, a little taken back. “You know how to take care of yourself.”
“Yeah, but I’ve got family now. That family doesn’t want to take the risks,” she said.
There was silence within the group and a long pause.
“Yeah,” Ray said, being a little submissive.
He backed away and joined another group.
“I’ll key in Corey,” John said. “Maybe we can borrow a few of his guys.”
“I’m sure he’ll be more than happy to assist,” she said.
The group broke up, but others stepped up to ask her questions. Banter found herself at her desk all morning surrounded by officers making sure they had all the details. She felt fully interrogated.
Corey stepped up to the door.
“Banter, I need you for a few minutes.”
Most of the men cleared out of her office. She rose and followed Corey. The stairs were busy, and he didn’t say anything. They went all the way down and out to the parking garage.
“Keys,” he said, holding out a hand.
He opened her car door for her, then slid into the driver’s seat.
“Where do you want to go for lunch?” he said while he adjusted the seat back.
She let out a big sigh.
“Chinese is quick,” she said.
“I’ve already spoken with John,” Corey said while he navigated out of the parking garage. “I’ve been anticipating this and already have a team of my men ready that will assist.”
“Nice to hear.”
“Sounds like they’re going to create a large net around both locations to make sure no one sneaks through.”
“That takes a lot of people.”
“They’re pulling people from other stations. This suddenly became huge,” he said. “They think there are ties to the large drug cartel that’s known to control the flow of drugs up and down the Interstate system all the way down to Texas.”
“How did they figure that?”
“I heard it was something to do with fingerprints on that business card.”
“I hadn’t heard that. Probably because I’ve been busy briefing everyone,” she said.
“You found something big, Banter.”
“Maybe we’re acting too fast. What I’ve seen seems too small for that large of a cartel.”
“We’ll never be able to catch the whole organization,” Corey said. “We can only hope to cripple them. And because of what you found, with the antennas and camo nets, we have a better idea on how to find them.”
Corey pulled into the Chinese restaurant parking lot.
“I wish I didn’t have this looming over me,” she said.
“I wish you weren’t going out.”
They chose the buffet because it was the quickest.
“No leftovers,” she said with a little sadness when they were finished.
“Next time,” he said.
Corey was sending out texts.
“I cued in Bea that we need her for the evening. She’s good with that,” he said, finally putting his phone away.
“Thanks. One thing I don’t have to think about.”
“I wish we had some kind of safety net for you,” he said.
“You know where I’ll be.”
“I’m glad for that. Well, we better head back.”
The parking garage was full on the first level.
“Up to second,” he said.
“This is full, too.”
“All the people they’re pulling in for the raid,” Corey said while he drove up to another level.
“I’ve never been up this high before.”
“We need to reserve more of the garage for police work, but then where would everyone else park?” he said, squeezing the car into a space.
“I’m not going to remember I’m on the fourth level,” she said when they headed to the stairs.
Corey handed her back her keys.
“I better give you those back or once you do find your car you won’t be able to get into it.”
“No. I’m not carrying the right tools.”
He bumped her.
“None of that now,” he said, but she caught him smiling.
They had to take the stairs all the way down because there was no access to the police building from that level.
“Today, we’re taking the elevator,” Corey said, taking her hand and pulled her in that direction. “You’re going to be doing enough running around tonight.”
They remained silence for the ride since there were other people. However, everyone seemed to be heading for the sixth floor. The elevator opened to a crowd of people.
“I’ll talk to you later,” Corey said while he headed toward the stairs.
She knew he was going to walk the rest of the way to his office.
Bert waved her over.
“We need you to talk to a group.”
He looked around and waved.
“Banter is here,” he called over to someone. “They’re set up in the conference room over here.”
Banter couldn’t see who was in the conference room while Bert led her over. There were too many people to allow her to see around them, and being that she was short, she couldn’t see over them.
“Right in here,” Bert said. “This is Banter.”
Banter found herself in a room with six military men. One looked like an officer. The other five were dressed in camo.