Latasha shadowed Bobby Thompson for a week. Detective Lisa said she could not spare a man for one small time delivery boy, but Latasha was upset. This jerk had his claws into Janet. Keisha still thought it was funny, but Janet was acting like a lost cause. Latasha and Janet had been friends since forever, and she hated the idea of losing her friend to a scum-bucket.
On Saturday, her work paid off. Bobby went to a restaurant where he could not order a burger and fries. He had to wait to be seated. She immediately called Detective Lisa and then argued with the woman for ten minutes before Lisa would do anything.
“I know. I’ve been careful. I know,” Latasha said that a lot, but at last Lisa sent a car. It was Millsaps, and he took it from there after giving Latasha strict instructions to go home and do her homework. Latasha pouted, but went.
Six hours later, Millsaps called Lisa. He had followed the man to a motel by the highway, and when Lisa heard who it was, she saddled up her partner Ashish for the drive.
“Of all people,” Lisa said. “Good thing Latasha did not see Carlos.”
“Bad blood,” Ashish agreed. “After he invaded her home last year.” Ashish shook his head, but could not do more because he was driving.
“She might have killed him if she knew.”
“No.” Ashish disagreed. “I have confidence in that girl. She can control herself more than that. She is going to make a fine police officer.”
Lisa frowned. “Just don’t tell her.” She ended the conversation.
Millsaps left when they arrived. His shift was over. Lisa called Rob Parker who had the late afternoon and evening shift. She told him to stand by. “But it is probably nothing.” They settled in for a long haul.
“What do you think will go down?” Ashish asked.
“Carlos? He probably got the motel room for a couple of hookers. That little man has ego problems. I say we give it until dark and then let one of the officers on the night shift take over.”
“Just checking.” Ashish scooted down in his seat and closed his eyes.
An hour before sundown a Lexus pulled up to the spot outside the room. Lisa had to squint against the sun, but she saw the driver stay in the car while someone in their fifties with salt and pepper hair got out of the back. She shook Ashish. “My God,” she said. “It’s Ferdinand Franco.” She whipped out her phone as Franco stepped up to the door and looked around once before he knocked. That confirmed Lisa’s guess. The man had a crooked eye.
“Jackpot,” Ashish said. Franco, a former Mexican cartel man had the money and men to turn large chunks of south Jersey into his personal drug empire. After the door to Carlos’ room closed, Ashish watched Lisa bite her lip for the next ten minutes. It took that long to get a “go.”
Lisa told Ashish to wait by the car. She staggered over to the Lexus with a big grin on her face. She was a fine looking woman for being near forty, and the driver of the Lexus was happy to notice. When she came up to the window, he put it down and smiled at her, especially when she bent over to lean on the door. When his eyes finally shifted to take in her face, Lisa’s hands grabbed the man by his jacket and she hauled him right out the open window. She slammed him to the pavement, cuffed him and removed the gun from his shoulder holster.
“Concealed weapon. Got a permit?”
“Got a warrant?” The man shot back.
“Yes,” Lisa said, and she handed the man’s gun to Ashish while she borrowed his handcuffs and made for the door. “Knock, knock. Room service.” Lisa tried to sound foreign. It would have worked if at the last second Carlos had not looked out the window. Franco did not know her. He might have been fooled, but she saw the look on Carlos’ face.
Lisa kicked in the door. She actually took it off the hinges so it swung to the wall and hung from its chain lock. Franco put his hands up and did not resist. Carlos made for the bathroom window. Between them, Lisa knew she could pick up Carlos later. For the moment, she had the kingpin, even if it would only be for a moment.
Rob Parker was already in the lot when she hauled Franco out of the room. She grabbed Rob’s radio and put out the word that Carlos was to be picked up for questioning, then she and Ashish hauled their two suspects down to the station and she wondered how long they could hold them. It depended on what the drug enforcement officers found in the car and motel room, if anything.
Ferdinand Franco got to sit in a filthy interview room for several hours. Now and then he would yell about wanting a phone call or wanting his lawyer, but everyone ignored him. Lisa spent the time catching up on her e-mails and found one from the FBI and Miriam. There were photos, which she printed, and a request that she take them to the university to pass them by the experts. Miriam wanted to know if they knew anything about that tattoo.
“Why are we just getting that word now?”
Ashish shrugged. “Some mix-up?”
“Tell Mitzy to stall him and meet me at the room,” Lisa ordered, and she walked off with the stack of papers still in her hands, photos on top. Mitzy was the officer who ran the front desk. Ashish was not long before he followed.
“Mister Franco, this is your lucky day,” Lisa started right in. “Your bodyguard has confessed that the drugs in your car were all his and you knew nothing about them.”
Franco nodded. “Micky’s a good man. He has a family, you know. I suspected he might be into the drugs, but what can one person do? I take care of my friends, though. I guess I may have to help his family out if he goes away for a while.” He shrugged.
“And the cocaine in the motel room?”
“Ah, that Carlos. He is a bad one. He calls me up and I drive all the way from Atlantic City to help out an old family friend from the home country, only to find out he wants to sell me drugs and get me hooked on that nasty stuff. What a shame.”
“Family friend from the home country? Mexico is still your home country, isn’t it?”
“Hey! You are not allowed to ask me that. I want my lawyer.”
“I suppose you could argue in court that the cocaine all belonged to Carlos.”
“His word. My word.” Franco shrugged again. “What are you going to do?”
“Hey! Why does everybody have it out these days for people who are rich and successful? Isn’t that what this country is all about? Anybody can get rich.” He shrugged a third time and took a moment to run a hand through his salt and pepper hair. “I understand some people don’t like me, but hey, I don’t feel any obligation to take care of families of people that hate me.” He looked squarely at Lisa. “I’m just saying.”
Lisa put her papers on the table in order to lean over and get in the man’s face. Franco found he could not look Lisa in the eye as she spoke without any emotion. “If anything happens to my family, I will find you and peel the skin from your body, slowly.”
“Lisa!” Ashish stood up from where he was leaning on the dirty window sill. He was genuinely shocked at what he heard.
“I’m just saying,” Lisa also straightened up.
“Threat!” Franco stabbed his finger on the photo.
“Your word, my word. What are you gonna do?” She responded.
Franco looked at Ashish who examined the ceiling tiles and did not want to get in the middle. Then he took a closer look at the photo his finger was stabbing, turned white and began to sweat.
“You want me to pass your name on to my friends?” Lisa implied that she had a relationship with the tattooed men.
Franco yanked his finger back like it was on fire. He scooted his chair a foot from the table, put up both hands up and shook them. “I don’t hold with any of that secret society crap. I just want to go home. You gotta let me out. Where’s my lawyer.”
His lawyer was already there, and Lisa confirmed with a call to the front desk. “Mister Franco is ready to go,” she said into the phone, picked up her papers and photos and left the room. Ashish later made a report.
“All he said was you gotta get me out of here. It isn’t safe. I swear, that is all. He said it several times.”
Lisa looked again at the photos. Dead men with a non-descript tattoo. “I don’t get it,” she admitted. “Franco has all the money, men and guns. He makes a living intimidating others, but one look at these photos and he was scared like a rabbit. I think I need to let Mindy look at these, if she can tell me anything.”
Lisa nodded. “Emily’s wise woman.”
Ashish responded by imitating Franco. He shrugged.
Monday, the unexpected turns of life heat up in the Elect II–4 Venus de Jekyll and Hyde
In the meanwhile, Happy Reading.