Read an Excerpt
The Home Team: Hostile Borders
By Dennis Chalker
HarperCollins Publishers, Inc.Copyright © 2005 Dennis Chalker
All right reserved.
The long nose of the H-295 Super Courier aircraft stuck out into the night, the propeller a spinning blur as it cut through the darkness. Dressed in gray tactical Nomex flight suits with black balaclavas worn underneath their Pro-Tec helmets, the heavily laden grimfaced men sitting inside the plane were still. Only the pilot at the controls was moving as he shifted his arms and head while flying the aircraft.
There was no talking among them, no joking or conversation. Voices would have been immediately blotted out by the roar of the engine coming in through the open side of the plane, the right side where the door was missing. The cold night air washed in through the opening as the plane continued on its flight.
Late December is not the time of year that San Diego has the great weather that it's well known for. At five o'clock on that Thursday morning, the sun wasn't due up for another couple of hours. The overcast clouds blocked the moon and the stars, further darkening an already black night.
A shrill whistle blast sounded out through the corridor, echoing off the hard walls as the lights along the ceiling came on. The area was silent after the blast of sound. Rows of individual six-by-nine-foot cells lined one wall. The facing wall was nothing more than a row of sealed windows, each one covered with heavy bars. It was the maximum-security segregation area of the Federal Building in downtown San Diego.
The silence was explained by the almost total lack of activity on the floor. In all of the cells, there was only one prisoner. As the head of one of the largest drug cartels in Mexico, Placido Pena was considered a very important prisoner, as well as a high-security risk. He was kept isolated from the rest of the inmates held in the building while they underwent trial in the federal courts across the street. Pena was exercised and fed only in segregated circumstances, especially now that his trial was drawing to an end.
"Do you have to blow that damned whistle every morning?" Officer Mitch Stevens said in the security control room just outside the isolation area.
Sergeant Keith Munson looked up at his shift partner.
"Look," Munson said, "if that damned drug lord wasn't on this floor, we wouldn't have to be here the day after Christmas and we could be having a nice long weekend just like everyone else. They even let his jury go home for the holidays and kept him locked up here in isolation."
"Everyone in the building knows what you think of this guy," Stevens said. "It's not like you keep your opinion a great big secret."
"Never forget that six brother officers were shot taking this guy," Munson said. "Both a DEA agent and a Highway Patrol officer were killed. He's facing multiple counts of drug trafficking, money laundering, and murder charges. If he hadn't been suckered across the border to help his brother, we never would have gotten him. It's not like the Mexican government ever would have moved against him. He has everyone across the border either in his pocket or so afraid of him they don't dare move.
"If I'm not going to be happy about being here, he sure as hell isn't going to be either. That sonofabitch has more money than God and thinks he can buy his way out of here with fast-talking lawyers. Well, he's going to learn that money won't buy him a damned thing here. He's supposed to get a minimum of two ninety-minute exercise periods a week. And he's to be kept segregated from the rest of the population. So I guess we'll just have to put him out early today."
Leaning forward at the desk where he sat, Munson keyed the microphone hanging on its long boom.
"Okay, Pena, rise and shine. You've got fifteen minutes before your exercise period. I suggest you dress warm, it's a bit chilly outside."
Placido Pena's name meant "tranquil," which was anything but his nature. He and his brother had risen to the top of a fiercely competitive business, drug trafficking across the border from Mexico. They had reached the pinnacle of their professional lives by being more ruthless than anyone else in their business, a field not known for its gentle work ethics. Even the vicious Colombian cartels had learned to respect the Pena family of northern Mexico--those who failed to learn that lesson died.
Dark, cold eyes gleamed out from a square face-- eyes that had seen streams of blood flowing in the streets at their owner's order. That face had witnessed a lot of violence in Pena's thirty-seven years of life. Thick coal-black hair and a full beard surrounded a calm face that could show intelligence, charm, and evil.
In his orange prisoner's clothing, Pena stood facing his cell door as Munson walked up. Back in the control room, Stevens watched through the heavy Lexan window as Munson approached the cell. Neither officer was armed, they only had the can of pepper spray and radio on their belts, but they needed little more. There was no place for a prisoner to try to escape to on the floor. The Federal Building was twelve stories tall and they were on the ninth floor. Below them were secured floors that were normally filled with officers and other federal law-enforcement bureaucrats. Above them were the general prisoner-holding floors and the exercise yard on the top of the building.
Excerpted from The Home Team: Hostile Borders by Dennis Chalker Copyright © 2005 by Dennis Chalker. Excerpted by permission.
All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
Excerpts are provided by Dial-A-Book Inc. solely for the personal use of visitors to this web site.