As the rich, brown liquid flowed into his ceramic receptacle FBI Special Agent John Arrington mentally reviewed his plan to tighten the noose around Columbian drug lord Bochampo.
The special agent’s investigative unit had gathered every shred of evidence it needed over one of its most extensive probes in recent history, lasting more than six months.
Hiring a squad of carefully selected and vetted informants, Arrington’s team had traced Bochampo’s trail of death and destruction from the streets of Watts, Harlem and other American cocaine strongholds back to its roots in the Andes.
In the morning’s meeting of his agency’s most knowledgeable and experienced frontline troops, the lead agent had carefully laid out the plan to take down Bochampo and shut down his operation.
He passionately reiterated that the poison killing off America’s youth had originated in Medellin, Columbia. The international fame of the area also had grown over several decades for its production of the highest quality of the warm refreshment that Arrington now sipped to reinvigorate his investigative skills.
The conjunction of the two businesses had motivated the drug lord to spend many years developing his legitimate business catering to the almost limitless taste for the products sprouting forth from the trees atop South American mountains. But the monetary largesse coming from that enterprise could not even scratch the surface of profits from the sustainability of the markets created by those possessed by the addictive white drug.
That led Bochampo to plant the seeds of both enterprises in tandem so he could maintain the constant flow of legal cash without having the spigot of his illegal operations shut down by the authorities.
“We need to shut both arms of this gigantic enterprise down to stop this terrorist from destroying our families and neighborhoods and our youth,” Arrington said to himself.
Many of the customers in the Los Angeles refreshment hub where the agent sat sipping his morning brew far more anxiously awaited the information inside the lid of each receptacle than what they found inside the containers themselves. For the drug lord had hidden under those lids directions to area addiction shooting galleries.
Tipped off by their informants about the operation, undercover members of the CIA team had posed for several weeks as customers to gain more insight into the gang’s modus operandi. With this information they hoped to put the final nail in the coffin of the illegal substance supermarket and its CEO.
“Finally we have the evidence we need to cut off the Andean connection,” Arrington had said at that morning’s meeting of his team. “We expect Bochampo’s lieutenants to make their payoffs this morning to those planting the distribution point instructions. We will tail them when they return to their headquarters and bust the kingpin along with his local operation.”
Although the FBI had sealed off the details of its planned assault with an airtight cloak of secrecy, Arrington knew well from past experience that the drug lord had ways of prying that lid open.
Any leak in the takedown could lead to a failure of the mission and an all-out gunfight resulting in the loss of many lives in both law enforcement and members of the public.
Yet the team members could not forget the chief aim of their mission, to shadow every move of the cartel’s local operatives who would lead the investigators to the big fish whose capture would bring down the cocaine empire.
The investigators this morning posed as staff members in the refreshment outpost. They would carefully document the delivery of the site information and the payoffs on videotape. Next, they would follow Bochampo’s lieutenants as they brought proof of mission accomplished back to their headquarters.
Tension filled the air as the gangsters entered the refreshment establishment. The collectors looked suspiciously around the place, apparently uneasy with several staff members not personally approved by their capo.
“Had to hire a few legit workers so the feds wouldn’t catch on to our real business,” the refreshment hub’s supervisor said. “Don’t worry. We checked all of them out. Not a spy in the lot.”
Of course, the FBI disguised its infiltration of the staff even more effectively than the gangster-run employment verification agency.
The meticulous collectors took their time in documenting that their partners in crime had executed their orders precisely as instructed before making their payoffs and gathering the information they needed before piling into a waiting SUV and heading for their headquarters.
While they took their time inside the establishment carefully carrying out their orders they didn’t know that this had given Arrington’s team more time to plant an undetectable tracking device on their vehicle.
Even so, the gangsters took every precaution to avoid being followed. Three cars of FBI agents tailed them through several miles of congested urban traffic and snake-like roads. After about an hour of detouring around the city they headed into the suburban hills and arrived at the Vanalden Cave on the valley side of the Santa Monica Mountains.
The gangsters had chosen the cave for its remote location and kept it carefully guarded with an army of sharpshooters. They didn’t figure on the huge advantage the tracking device provided in enabling the feds to follow at a safe distance and take the gang’s guards into custody without detection. They also didn’t realize that the same narrow cave opening that restricted access for intruders would make it easy for Arrington’s squad to block the mob inside once the collectors returned.
Shielded by the cavern’s darkness, the federal officers followed the collectors into the capo’s headquarters, where he sat in the middle of an opening like a king holding court.
The agents easily surrounded the mobsters and took Bochampo and his henchmen into custody with little more than token resistance.
The maps pointing out the location of the shooting galleries provided valuable evidence of the connection between the two arms of the operation. Additionally, in return for lighter sentences, a number of the employees and former customers of the refreshment outpost gave the courts real insight into the inner workings of the complicated scheme.
Unusually tight security and cooperation from South American officials tired of seeing their countries torn apart by mob rule and drugs also stopped the capo and his cohorts from carrying out threats against witnesses.
Bochampo and the partners in his enterprise were guaranteed several life terms in federal prison after sentencing under the RICO statutes.