Border Crossed - Cover

Border Crossed

Copyright© 2023 by Lumpy

Chapter 6

Whitaker pulled out her phone while Taylor began to walk the room. He wasn’t doing an in-depth search yet, but getting a sense of anything that might be important or notable. While he didn’t normally expect anything incriminating or useful to be just sitting out in the open, considering the tunnel he saw, it wasn’t like they were able to just hide their illegal activities anyway.

Besides looking through the room, Taylor was also keeping an eye on the garage building itself through the window. He had to assume the tunnel ended on the Mexican side of the border, and who knows how many people were over there. There had been plenty of time for the guys on this side of the border to radio in that there were cops here and to call for reinforcements. The last thing he wanted, until the cavalry arrived, was to be surprised.

“Captain Sullivan? It’s Agent Whitaker,” Whitaker said, putting her phone on speaker.

“What is it, Agent Whitaker? Thanks to the two of you, I didn’t get a lot of sleep last night and I have a lot of work to do today. I know you two get to do whatever you want, but my task force has an actual job to do.”

“We need your team out here ASAP with search and recovery people, plus the coroner. We’re at the location we talked to you about last night, it’s a farm purchased around the time the increase in drugs started. There were seven hostiles. Cartel members armed with pistols and automatics moving what looks to be repackaged narcotics. Unfortunately, all seven are down, so we don’t have anyone to question, but the scene is full of intel that we need to recover. More importantly, we discovered what looks like a tunnel, dug deep, going towards the Mexican side of the border with tracks going down the center, probably so they can move large amounts of product at a time. This operation is a lot bigger than anyone thought.”

“You’re at least ten miles from the border,” Sullivan said, incredulously.

“I know, but it’s here and it goes deep enough and in the right direction. It explains why the number of drug seizures has gone down. If they load cars here, they don’t have much to worry about.”

“Stay where you are. I’ll get locals dispatched now, and I’ll have my team and everyone else on the road in ten.”

“We’ll be here,” Whitaker said, hanging up.

“Now he believes us,” Taylor said, sarcastically, as he flipped through papers.

“It was a tough sell,” she said. “Hell, you found this place, and even you weren’t one hundred percent sure about it. Imagine building something like this.”

“Well, it’s here,” Taylor said, setting the papers down and looking back at the large garage. “We need to check that out.”

“It’s quiet at the moment. Maybe we should wait until backup arrives before we check it out.”

“I don’t want to be surprised by a bunch of guys bursting out of the door. I’d rather have them backed into the tunnel where I have a better shot at them, than us hiding in here while they surround us.”

“Fine,” Whitaker said, checking her weapon. “But if you get us killed, I’ll never forgive you.”

Taylor led the way out of the house, past the scattered bodies, and approached the garage. Although it had been empty when Taylor had shut the doors, Whitaker still stood back and off to the far-right side, so she could have a clear line of sight to anything on the left in the garage. Flipping the latch off, Taylor held his gun up with one hand and pulled with the other, stepping back as the door slid aside so he’d at least have cover from the side of the room Whitaker was clearing.

Thankfully, no one was inside. The tunnel was still wide open like they left it, with tracks still leading off into the black void.

“If it goes all the way to the Mexican side, it’s unlikely anyone would hear anything that far away. Maybe there wasn’t anyone at the bottom of it at all.”

“Maybe not. Or maybe they’re just waiting down there for us to go exploring,” Taylor said.

“I doubt it. They have to know if the firing here was law enforcement, that we would have called it in and this place would be swarming in an hour. If anything, they would have made a run for it as soon as the shooting started.”

“They could have thought it was another cartel,” Taylor said and then shrugged. “You’re probably right. Still, I want to make sure we don’t get jumped when we start going through this place. Let’s go down a bit and see where it goes.”

“You want to go in there?”

“Sure. It’s a tunnel. They’ll be in front of us, right?”

“We don’t have any kind of night vision gear, and we’ll be easy to pick off if we shine flashlights around.”

“Did you see anyone in here with night vision gear? They probably have lights down there or use flashlights. NODs aren’t exactly common cartel gear,” Taylor said, referring to active night vision gear commonly used by the military.

“You’d be surprised how well these guys are armed. Fine, we’ll check it out, but I don’t want to go far. The locals will be here soon, and I want to be around when they show up.”

“You think they’ll cause problems? Maybe dirty?”

“I doubt it. Even if they’re dirty, they know federal response is on its way and they’re not going to put themselves in danger of getting caught on the take. But they might screw something up, either accidentally or on purpose, and I don’t want that to happen. This is a solid bust that Joe will want his hand in.”

“Gotta make the boss look good,” Taylor quipped.

“You like the free hand we’re given? This is how we get it. Showing results. Now, are we going down there or not?”

Taylor gave another shrug and pulled out his flashlight, crossing his wrists to use his flashlight arm as a brace in case he needed to fire. The pair walked down the incline, each hugging the wall. They didn’t get nearly as far as either thought they would.

About a hundred feet down, the tunnel more or less ended, except for a four-foot-high, four-foot-wide square opening, which the tracks continued into.

“What the hell,” Taylor said. “What, they crouch the whole ten miles? Shitty way to make a tunnel.”

“I don’t think so,” Whitaker said, bending down to look at the tracks. “Huh, that’s clever.”

“What’s clever?” Taylor said, looking at them but clearly not seeing what she saw.

“You see these two thick chains in the middle of the tracks? I think this is some kind of pulley mechanism.”

“Run by what? The tracks just kind of stop at this end.”

“I bet there’s a winch mechanism at the other end so they can send the container, or more likely containers, of drugs through and then pull them back when the guys here call and tell them they’re empty.”

“Why the hell would they do that? Seems like a lot of trouble and a lot of stuff that can break down when they could just put the containers on a dolly track and have some guys push them. Muscle power is cheap.”

“That’s why I said it’s clever. One of the ways our guys check for tunnels is ground-penetrating radar. The ground, though, it’s not exactly solid. There are all kinds of burrows and stuff made by animals and vegetation and whatnot, and radar is not that finely tuned, not the way they use it. They don’t have the manpower to run one of the more sophisticated devices over each section of the border, so they use less sensitive radars from drones or placed sensors. They’re good for finding bigger areas, like say something large enough for a man to go through. Four feet by four feet, going this far? Even if a drone picked it up, they’d write it off as a false positive since, like you said, who’d crawl ten miles every time they wanted to deliver drugs?”

“Hopefully, once Sullivan gets out here, we can dig through everything in that house and see if we can find something to answer our questions. I’m sure he, or Agent Chavez, has contacts in Mexico’s federal law enforcement to check the other end of this tunnel and see what they have there.”

It took almost ten more minutes before the first locals showed up. Whitaker immediately went to work, getting them set up in places to close down the scene, without letting any of them alone in the house or the garage until more federal officers showed up.

While there was no guarantee that any of them were compromised, it was a distinct possibility, and Taylor was happy to see that some of his paranoia had rubbed off on her. The local boys didn’t exactly love having a woman boss them around, but Whitaker was in her element and had a lot of experience dealing with their type.

It was almost an hour before the first federal agents arrived and almost two before Sullivan and his team pulled up, their convoy of squad cars and SUVs with lights flashing, came tearing down the dirt road that led to the farm.

“Finally,” Whitaker said, pushing off the local cruiser she’d been leaning against.

She’d given the job of watching the farmhouse and the garage to the first feds who’d showed up, which at least let her move around the site, but they were both ready to hand the scene over to someone else.

The vehicles pulled up in a semicircle around the front of the house, officers piling out, hands resting on sidearms like the site hadn’t been cleared for hours.

Sullivan emerged from the lead SUV, his habitual scowl deepening as he took in the bullet-ridden house and bodies littering the ground. His gaze landed on Taylor and Whitaker.

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