Mafia fix td 4, p.1

Mafia Fix td-4, page 1

 part  #4 of  The Destroyer Series

 

Mafia Fix td-4
 


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Mafia Fix td-4


  Mafia Fix

  ( The Destroyer - 4 )

  Warren Murphy

  Richard Sapir

  When ten billion filthy drug dollars' worth of heroin pollutes the Jersey shore and threatens to make the Mafia a second Evil Empire, the president knows there's just one man who can stop a Jersey Kingpin from destroying the country and that's an ex-Jersey cop resurrected and nicknamed the Destroyer. Remo Williams is on a mission to mainline death and destruction into the Cosa Nostra before Main Street gets stuck. But how will Master Chiun's masterpiece of a human killing machine score? Will history's biggest drug score go bust? With Remo on the mission you know he'll sniff out the swine and cover his tracks but when he gets to the top will he find he's gone too high and realize that the Mafia fix is in?

  ***********************************************

  * Title : #004 : MAFIA FIX *

  * Series : The Destroyer *

  * Author(s) : Warren Murphy and Richard Sapir *

  * Location : Gillian Archives *

  ***********************************************

  CHAPTER ONE

  It was a perfect trap.

  It had been sown in the flowering fields of Turkey during the wet, warm spring and it bloomed briefly in the back streets of Marseilles in July, and now it would be harvested in the muggy heat of late August on Pier 27 of Hudson, New Jersey, "gateway to the nation," as it had been called when the nation had looked only to Europe for its culture.

  Now, via Europe, it was importing death in bricks and bars and bags to be sniffed, skin-popped or mainlined into the veins of Americans.

  A glassine envelope with only a trace element of an ounce was worth $5 to the person who wanted to murder himself with it. A plastic lunch bag big enough for a slice of cake or a school lunch sandwich was worth $15,000, an uncut brick of it was worth as much as $100,000, and a suitcase of it might be worth millions.

  Sometimes two valises would come in, and if seized by the authorities, the news would be splashed across the front pages of the nation's newspapers: $9 Million seized or $16 Million seized, Biggest Haul Ever, Nab Record Drug Cache.

  By the ounce it was worth more than gold. And adding the bags and valises, the false bottoms in suitcases, the holes in statues, the hollow heels and money-belts full, it came into the bloodstream of America by the ton. But never more at one time than a couple of suitcases full. Never more, as far as the Treasury Department knew, until a dying man whispered to an undercover narcotics agent in Cleveland, Ohio, about the big one.

  When the big one came, you would be able to buy it by the pound at two-thirds of what you were paying now. When the big one came, the little wholesalers would be wiped out. When the big one came, you would get it in pills, in serum bottles, in cigarettes, all pre-packaged as it had never been packaged before.

  You could buy a franchise in June for delivery in September. You could get the stuff with any label you wanted on the cover devices. And you could get all you could sell when the big one came.

  Another informer in San Francisco told about the big one. And in Dallas and Miami and Chicago and Boston and Detroit and New York, the signals kept filtering through to the local narco squads, to the state police, the FBI and the Treasury Department's narcotics unit. The signals said that the big one is coming in August and by the time the first football is kicked off in the first high school football game, there will be enough to turn on every cafeteria, office, street and home in the nation.

  That's how big the big one was.

  And that was the first mistake.

  As an assistant attorney general of the United States pointed out in a secret conference in Washington: "What the mob is doing this time is the equivalent of the Viet Gong leaving the countryside and deciding to fight a set battle at sea. Gentlemen, we've been given the first real break in our war against the drug traffic. They've come to play in our ballpark."

  On an international level, the first steps were easy. Intelligence-gathering is a dull accounting process of examining pictures and charts, markets and large-scale movements of things. For an army to move anywhere, gasoline, men and trucks must begin to roll. On a large scale, the indicators might be the sale of grain, a rise in the price of oil, the scarcity of cigarettes. Nothing big happens without the indicators.

  And for the big one in heroin, there were plenty of indicators. The harvest would require the agricultural production of half a nation and the first indicator was the almost immediate drop in unemployment and starvation in that nation. The price of farm labour went up. The price of grain went up. Fields that had grown wheat for centuries were no longer planted with wheat. You didn't have to stand fifty miles outside of Ankara taking photographs of fields to realize that wheat as a crop was being abandoned.

  You could read it in the New York Times listings for the commodity markets. Grain shipments to Turkey. You compared that to the weather reports for the region and when you found out it was very good growing weather, you knew something was being grown besides grain.

  You could walk through the food stalls of Ankara and seeing the rise in prices for all produce, know that what was being grown was not for eating in Turkey. You then checked the agricultural exports from Turkey and, seeing no rise, you knew their farmers were not exporting grains or fruits.

  Thus, even if the narcotics outlets hadn't leaked the word about the big one, the United States government would still have known about it.

  "At last, they've made the big mistake," said the assistant attorney general.

  And as the Central Intelligence Agency kept its nose to the periphery of the big shipments from Turkey to Marseilles where gummy, dark-coloured commercial opium was distilled into refined, white powder, the State Department pressured Elysee Palace to keep its police away.

  "Yes, the United States understood France's desire to free itself of the stigma of being a clearing house for heroin.

  "Yes, the United States understood that such a big arrest would vindicate France.

  "However, did France understand that this was a singular opportunity to deal a severe blow to the traffickers in the United States; that the big one had to go somewhere, and that at that somewhere must be the top people, whose arrests would cripple the flow of illegal narcotics, not only in the United States and not only in France, but all around the world?

  "And, of course, if France persisted in its plan to make arrests at the Marseilles heroin factories, it might be necessary for the United States to send a public note of protest to France condemning it for interfering with a United States plan to deal a mortal blow to international drug traffic. The international press might even hear a rumour that France seized the heroin to protect United States distributors,

  "Wouldn't it be so much simpler if France were publicly lauded for its fine cooperation in the big arrest?

  "France is always willing to cooperate? Of course. Allies again and forever."

  So the trap was set, good and tight and big, and on that hot muggy morning at Pier 27 in Hudson, New Jersey, the trap was ready to be sprung.

  Inspector Vincent Fabia said the special prayer he had been saying since the spring. "God, let me have this one. I'll never ask for another. This one. Let me have this one."

  He waved to the private guard at the gate and eased his green truck with the wooden window flaps and the yellow painted sign saying "Vinnie's Hots-Best Dogs on the Pier," over to the guard who held out his hand as if to shake. Vinnie reached down out of the cab and grasped the outstretched hand with his left. The guard smiled and waved him through. It was a five-dollar smile, the amount of the rolled up bill Vincent Fabia had passed with his left hand and had been passing every day, with few exceptions, for the last three weeks.


  It was the small "vig" that was the rule of life in Hudson, New Jersey. A guard at the gate, a shop steward here, an assistant sanitation inspector there, all of whose friendship was necessary if you sold hot dogs from an open truck. And of course, if you sold hot dogs from a truck, you didn't always have the money to pay and you'd plead short every so often, promising to double up the next time.

  Occasionally, Vincent Fabia would smile at the thought of his selling hot dogs, just as his father did; just as his father paid off to earn his living in Boston by giving money to the Irish cops who would call him a guinea and take his money and free hot dogs and free cigarettes. All the old man's money was going to put his son, Vincent Fabia, through Fordham. Vincent Fabia, who did not become a doctor or a lawyer or an accountant or a professor, but a cop who was a cop who, when he heard the Italian names linked to organized crime, would squirm in his stomach and vow that one day he would make the big bust with his name right out there, giving the world both vowels at the end of it.

  Vincent Fabia, inspector of the United States Treasury Department, who drove his green hot dog truck on to the edge of Pier 27, and parked it as he had parked it for the last three weeks, began to heat the big kettle with the oversized frankfurters, opened the flaps on the sides of the truck and looked out at the most beautiful scene he had witnessed since his wife presented him their first-born son.

  To his left, the Panamanian registry Santa Isabella, which had just docked this morning, stood in sharp relief against the New York skyline across the Hudson. Directly in front of him was the long asphalt field where empty truck frames sat in a long string. Within a few days, truck-sized containers would be hoisted from the hold of the Santa Isabella and placed carefully on the back of the truck frames. Then cabs and rigs would be attached and the sealed and locked containers, their contents untouched by human hands on this side of the Atlantic, would be on their way out into the mainstream of America.

  Vincent Fabia knew that the two containers he was after would be there this day. Not because intelligence reports told him so. His stomach told him so. "Today is the day," it said, and no computer could tell the mind of Inspector Fabia otherwise. Today was the day he and his men had waited for.

  O'Donnell and McElaney would work the hold. They had their longshoremen cards. Hester, Baker and Werner were drivers and assistants. They would be arriving soon to wait for their cargo and they would be there for the entire unloading operation, since in Marseilles their containers were the first to go into the hold. So they would be the last to get their cargo and they would hang around waiting and complaining, but mostly waiting and watching.

  In the office building to his right were his reserves, Needham and Viggiano. They would move only if ordered to by Fabia, or if Fabia were dead. In the meantime, they sat there behind a camera, with telephoto lens and high resolution film, ready to pick up identifiable images at a great distance.

  Stretched out along Routes 1 and 9 were unmarked Treasury cars. On standby, without exact knowledge of what the standby was for, were the state and Hudson police. The FBI was available for call and "directional reinforcement," which was a nice way of saying that if you fouled things up, they would attempt to unfoul it.

  Vincent Fabia, in tee shirt and chinos, straightened out his small formica counter at the side of the truck and added fresh napkins to the dispenser.

  He checked the small mustard container on the counter, and seeing it only half-full, filled it. He put out the relish. He opened the heating bin of the sauerkraut and gave it a stir.

  The ice in the soft drinks was packed right. He shut the lid on the ice. The straws were adequate.

  So was his .38 police special. So was his little transistor radio that he kept plugged into his left ear and which he accidentally had unplugged every day now for the last three weeks so people would hear that it was playing music. Today, it was not playing music and it would not be unplugged.

  "It's coming out first. A triple shipment," a voice crackled over the radio.

  Fabia clicked his fingers as if hearing a beat. Three containers. Three truckloads and up until this the biggest hauls had been suitcases. The beat went on.

  A shiny metal truck container came out of the hold of the Santa Isabella, connected to the end of cables and chains attached to a derrick bolted on the ship.

  Containerization. The new way to ship. Four tractor rigs filed into the Pier 27 waiting dock. Needham and Viggiano would pick them up with the telephoto lens for evidence, license plates, company names, everything.

  "I said no mustard, you stupid bastard."

  Fabia looked down. A longshoreman was looking up angrily at him from the counter. He had given the man a hot dog without realizing it and had drenched it with mustard, also without realizing it.

  "Take that frigging radio out of your ear and maybe you'll hear people."

  "Yeah, sorry," said Fabia. "I'm sorry."

  Ill eat it, but I won't like it."

  "I'll give you another one."

  "No. I'll eat it. But next time, like listen, huh?"

  "Sure thing. Roger."

  "Roger?"

  "Uh, thanks. I'm sorry."

  "Yeah. Okay."

  Relax. That was what Fabia told himself. Pretend this is just another bust and relax. Don't blow it. By tomorrow, you'll be standing in front of the television cameras with those trucks behind you and everyone in the world hearing those last two vowels on the end of your name. Just relax and pay attention.

  Slowly, painfully slowly, the crane Lifted the first container to full height, paused, then swivelled around and lowered the container onto the waiting truck frame. Immediately, the first tractor rig drove up and began to hitch itself to the truck.

  "Don't you want your money?"

  "Yeah, sure," said Fabia.

  "That was two hot dogs, the specials. And a soda."

  "A dollar five," Fabia said.

  "That must be some program you got on."

  "Yeah," said Fabia and smiled. "Great."

  "Second container being readied. There are four in the shipment," came the voice over the radio.

  Four? Vincent Fabia smiled at his customer and made sure that he absolutely certainly got the order correct. Mustard and relish on one, sauerkraut and mustard on two and one plain.

  "You got onions?"

  "No."

  "How come you don't have onions?"

  "I don't get a big enough call for them," Fabia said.

  And the transistor radio-"tall, dark Caucasian, 275 pounds, suit and tie. Standing near containers in the hold. Just looking. Think he's involved. No reason to be here."

  "If you had 'em, you'd get a call for 'em."

  "But I don't have them."

  "Why doncha?"

  "Cause I don't get any call for them."

  And the radio-"It's definitely four containers. And there are three men in the hold looking around. Well-dressed."

  "Hey, I asked for two, not four." "Sorry. Two, right?" "Right. With onions."

  "I don't have onions. What do you want from me?"

  "Onions. You know everybody's got onions. You're the first guy in here what deals from a truck that don't have onions."

  "I don't have onions."

  The longshoreman's face reddened. "I know you don't have onions. I'm saying you oughta get 'em 'cause customers like 'em. I'd pay five cents more for onions if you had 'em. Some people just like onions. It ain't against the law. Nobody says you gotta have mustard and kraut on your dogs. Hey! Whaddya doing?"

  "What?" said Vincent Fabia.

  "Whaddya doing? I didn't order no mustard or kraut."

  And the radio-"Number two going up, those men staring at it. They're involved. Maybe we can get them with the telly. Whoops."

  "Mustard and kraut, right?" said Vincent Fabia. "Blow it out your ass."

  Vincent Fabia shrugged as a hot dog salesman would shrug, and he leaned down into the corner of his small truck as if to get more mustard. He whispered into a small
microphone. "Did you pick up the deck with the telly?"

  "Somebody just passed. That was close. I'll let you know when there's something new. Everything's too close."

  Vincent Fabia sold 174 hot dogs that morning and eighteen more by 4 p.m. that afternoon. He was literally soaked with sweat. His tee shirt looked as if it had been hosed, and his trousers were two shades darker than normal. His hair hung limply in wet strands; his eyes were red. He felt as though he could neither lift his hands nor his feet; just keep his balance by great strength of will. But when the four loaded tractor trailers with the emblems on them- Ocean Wheel Trucking Company-began to roll off Pier 27, he knew suddenly that he could climb Mount Everest if he had to.

  He leaned into the corner of the cab, flicked a switch, and said very loudly:

  "Pickles. Pickles. I'm going to get pickles. Got to get pickles. Pickles."

  And the signal beginning the close of the trap was out. He shut the flaps of his truck, and for the first time in three weeks did not bother to close the lid on the big mustard jar beneath the counter, from which he filled the small dispenser jar.

  He stuffed the .38 calibre police special into his belt and toyed with a line that he might deliver at some communion breakfast-about youngsters having a choice between right and wrong, and no ethnic group being particularly addicted to any special offense, and maybe even how too many people remembered only the Italian gangsters who were caught, not the Italian detectives who caught them.

  It was the Mafia and the people who dealt with them who were the fools, not the majority of hardworking Italian-Americans and other Americans.

  Vincent Fabia did not get a chance to deliver his speech about who had brains and who didn't. His brains were found splattered on the seat of the cab of his hot dog truck at 3 a.m. the next morning, parked near the cemetery on tree-shaded Garfield Avenue in Hudson, New Jersey. Powder burns surrounded the remnants of an eye socket and slivers of his skull were imbedded in the back of the seat.

  Just before quitting time, two longshoremen had been crushed to death beneath a container that slipped its rigging and plummeted down onto them in the hold.

 
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