The Tobo Drug War
Chapter 3: The Final Briefing
Copyright© 2018 by Lazlo Zalezac
January 21, 1990
Colonel Byrd looked over at the clock on the wall. It was ten minutes after nine o’clock. Sword Flavia was late to the final briefing before the mission that was going to take place that afternoon. In a way, he was rather disappointed in Sword Flavia. He had really expected the man to show up at exactly nine o’clock. They took things a little too literally at times, particularly with that blasted contract of theirs.
One of the contractual terms had been access to relevant intelligence data. That had bothered him a lot, but assumed they’d send a man or two over to read the summaries. He had been shocked when thirty Jade Warriors, including the woman who drove their supply truck, showed up to review the intelligence data. It didn’t seem to matter to them that there was only enough room for ten people to sit at the tables in the room. They sat at the tables, on the floor, and atop the filing cabinets.
They spent the entire month, as specified in the contract, examining every document about the drug trade in Tobo. Sometimes, they would pick up a document, pass it around the room, and discuss it a bit in that strange language of theirs. They didn’t ask for any copies to be made so that they could mark it up like most analysts did. He never saw them make any kind of notes other than a single list of names and places.
Of course, his men couldn’t even get into the room with that many people in it. Any complaint he made about the intrusion on normal intelligence activities, were met with the argument that what they were doing was specified in the contract. He had gone so far as to get a second and a third opinion on it. They were in the right as far as a literal interpretation of the contract went.
He had been informed that there were ten Jade warriors in Amra going through the documents stored there. Apparently, they had some hotshot law school intern that was driving the JAG crazy. She kept pointing out terms in the contract that they hadn’t realized were present or, at least, didn’t realize could be interpreted in the way she was interpreting them.
The Jade Warriors had become a thorn in everyone’s side and a lot of people were beginning to agree with him that it would be nice to get rid of them. At least there hadn’t been any incidents after the duel. Of course, there was a very good reason for that.
Immediately after the duel, he had called every soldier who wasn’t on critical duty to the mess hall. That meant everyone who wasn’t on guard duty or working communications was crowded into a room that was only meant to hold half that many people. He had proceeded to lecture them about the Jade Warriors.
He had calmly stated that the Jade Warriors were sociopaths and cold blooded killers. They would kill anyone who they could justify killing. He had described how their cook had delivered a deadly blow to Private Nelson. He then told about how they stood around waiting for him to die before providing medical aid to revive him. Fortunately, Private Nelson survived his death.
He talked about what he had learned from Sword Flavia concerning their training. Essentially, their training boiled down to learning how to kill. They started training at the age of five, and they never stopped training. They were very good at killing. They would fight using explosives, guns, swords, knives, and body. Cut off an arm and they’d kick you to death. Cut off both arms and legs, they’d try to bite you.
It should be noted that Sword Flavia never said they trained to kill, just that they trained for war. Colonel Byrd had interpreted that as meaning that they trained to kill. It made a much simpler story to tell the men.
He explained that the Jade Warriors were fearless, each of them fully expecting to die in battle. All they wanted was to take with them as many of the enemy as possible. Faced with one person or a crowd, it didn’t matter to them. They’d wade in, and start killing as many as they could.
He warned his men that anyone provoking a Jade Warrior should remember that members of the Amran Army were Army property and that destroying army property was punishable with time in an Amran Military Prison. He would personally court martial anyone who got into any kind of altercation with the Jade Force.
His lecture seemed to work. No one had gotten into a fight with the Jade Warriors after that. In fact, they avoided the Jade Warriors as much as possible.
He looked over at the clock. Sword Flavia was now fifteen minutes late. He decided that it was past time for him to start the mission briefing. He stood up and cleared his throat. It was right at that time when Sword Flavia entered the room.
Sword Flavia made his way around the room to where he was supposed to be seated. He sat down and smiled up at Colonel Byrd.
Without apology, he said, “Go on.”
“As I was about to say, the mission today is a simple one. We’ve identified a building which we believe is converting opium to heroin. The Tobo Army is flying in with four helicopters. They will land and take control of the facility. Once they have control, you will go in and perform an assessment of the production capabilities, and gather any intelligence that may be lying around. We are particularly interested in knowing who owns it, and what other facilities that person may own.”
Sword Flavia raised his index finger, and pointed it at Colonel Byrd.
“What is it, Sword Flavia?” Colonel Byrd snapped irritatedly.
Sword Flavia said, “In case you aren’t aware of it, the contract allows us a certain ‘independence of action.’ We exercised that option, last night.”
“You did?” Colonel Byrd asked with a sinking feeling in his stomach.
When Sword Flavia didn’t provide any additional details, Colonel Byrd said, “I know I’m going to regret this, but ... what did you do?”
“We looked over the mission plans that you gave us and decided we didn’t like them. So ... we implemented our own.”
“You implemented your own plans.”
Colonel Byrd couldn’t imagine what they might have done with such a simple mission. He was positive that he wasn’t going to like what he was going to learn, but he had to know.
He asked, “Would you care to enlighten us?”
“We moved in on the factory a little after midnight. We killed everyone inside, took everything of any value, except the drugs, and destroyed the factory along with the fifty kilos of heroin.”
“Only fifty kilos?”
“Yes. They had already shipped out several hundred kilos of heroin earlier that night. They were in the process of packing up the operation because they knew they were getting raided this afternoon. We kind of caught them by surprise by showing up early.”
“What happened to the kilos of heroin they had moved out?” Colonel Byrd asked.
He was hoping that they’d get to raid that location. A picture of him beside a couple hundred kilos of heroin would be great press. They’d probably be able to arrest a minor player in the cartel. That would look really good.
“We moved in on the warehouse a little after one. We killed everyone inside, took everything of any value, except the drugs, and destroyed the building along with all of the heroin. There was maybe a ton or two of it there. It’s gone.”
“You should have kept it. It’s evidence,” Colonel Byrd said.
He was wondering if the man even understood what he had done. A ton or two of heroin? That was a lot of heroin. They had to have raided the main warehouse used by the cartel. The cartel was likely to strike back at them.
“Evidence for what?” Sword Flavia asked.
“The trials for when we catch the criminals.”
“Criminals? What criminals?”
“The members of the drug cartel.”
“There won’t be any trials of the drug cartel members,” Sword Flavia said.
“Why do you say that?”
“They are all dead,” Sword Flavia said.
“You killed them?”
“Yes. This is a war, isn’t it? You call it the ‘War on Drugs,’ right?”
Feeling dizzy, Colonel Byrd said, “Yes.”
“Death is what happens to combatants on the losing side in war. The Tobo Drug Cartel lost. They are now dead.”
Pulling himself together, Colonel Byrd said, “I hate to tell you this, but one factory and one warehouse doesn’t mean the Tobo Drug Cartel has lost. You got a bunch of low level people. We’re after the big fish. Those big fish are going to be angry.”
“Those were just two of the raids we performed last night. There were fifty others.”
“That’s just here in Tobo.”
“Where else did you have raids?” Colonel Byrd asked wondering how many countries were going to be after Amran blood.
“We also hit the Tobo Drug Cartel in Amra, last night.”
“What?” Colonel Byrd said with a squeak.
Sword Flavia said, “We went through the intelligence data. We found it incredible how much you knew, and how little you acted upon. You had nearly every member of the cartel identified. You knew where they lived. You knew most of the details about their operation. You knew the routes they took to transport the drugs out of the country. It was all there in your intelligence data. You just never acted upon it.”
“But we didn’t have any proof.”
“Proof of what?” Sword Flavia asked looking a little confused.
“That they are criminals.”
Sword Flavia looked at the Colonel like he was examining some kind of weird insect that had never before been seen. A few of the men in the briefing room were looking a little upset. It wasn’t pleasant hearing from an outsider that they had the information to do the job and hadn’t been doing it. Some of the people were getting a little angry, and it wasn’t directed at Sword Flavia.
Sword Flavia said, “You are a military man. I can tell by the insignia on your uniform that you’re a Colonel of the Amran Army. I assume that you’ve been involved in a war, before. Am I wrong?”
“I was a First Lieutenant in the Vam war.”
“I don’t know how you fought, but I don’t think you tried to arrest the West Vam soldiers, so that you could put them on trial. I’m pretty sure that you know the proper thing to do when you identified a West Vam soldier was to shoot him or her. In war, when you identify an enemy on a battlefield, you shoot them.”
There were politics involved here that didn’t exist on a normal battlefield. These guys had trampled all over the politics and created a huge mess.
He said, “That’s different.”
“No, it isn’t. We’ve already established that we are fighting a ‘War on Drugs,’ which translates into a war on the Tobo Drug Cartel. We identified the enemy combatants – the members of the Tobo Drug Cartel and their army of hired guns. We encountered them on a battlefield at a time of our choosing. We attacked in a manner that favored winning the encounter. We shot first, we shot often, and we shot well.
“By the way, they were armed, and they did fire upon us. So don’t sit there and think that we just walked up to innocent people shot them. They were enemy combatants in every sense of the word.”
The Colonel said, “Some of those people are so politically connected that they can’t be touched unless you have a lot of proof to show that they were involved. We need that proof to take them down.”