A Jake McCall Adventure Novel

by

Don Beverly

CARTEL CONNECTION

Preview

Lawyer/Security expert Jake McCall is unexpectedly dispatched by Learjet to evaluate a suspected terrorist plot thought to be threatening the Crystal River nuclear power plant, located on the Gulf of Mexico and adjacent to the ill-fated old Florida cross state barge canal. In order to evade the spotlight on the western border between the U.S. and Mexico, the Mexican cartels have begun using the old navigable canal as an unattended entryway for smuggling illegal immigrants and drugs into Florida, unaware that their cartel connection is a double agent whose identity is inadvertently discovered by McCall and his associates. A coalition quickly develops between Jake's team and the double agent, a huge and powerful man known to the Mexicans only as el Toro, whose little brother had been slaughtered years prior by the cartel. El Toro's lifelong obsession to even the score with the illusive killer responsible for his brother's death leads to a series of bloody encounters which extend from the barge canal to the sleepy and Communist deprived southwestern coast of Cuba, into the Florida keys and ultimately the Bahamas.                                


Sample chapters

The following morning it was breakfast as usual for Jake, John and Walter. Their first concern was whether any further problem had developed between Knox and the skinny guy after they had all separated the previous evening. It had become evident that a turf war was building in the skinny man's mind since little did he know Knox was about to become an ex-smuggler. Neither did he know about the plan to meet with the Mexicans and take whatever steps were required to sever the smuggling pipeline permanently. For him to get in the middle of all this was suicidal, but he didn't know that either. Which is why he made the fatal mistake of following el Toro home when he left the Log Cabin, erroneously assuming he hadn't been seen or could slip up on the dangerous big man in his own home.

Sensing he had been followed, el Toro drove home, unlocked and entered the front door, turned on the kitchen lights and TV set then quietly exited through the rear door and waited in the shadows of the big grandaddy oak trees. He saw the profile of the skinny man as he came down the dark street from the west, carefully dodging what little light there was from surrounding homes and easing into the edge of el Toro's yard, where he stopped and waited. But rather than approach the house as el Toro had expected, the man sneaked along through the dense shrubbery lining the property and headed down toward the boat dock, passing within ten feet of where el Toro stood frozen in the darkness.

"I'll be damned", el Toro thought, "the dumb son-of-a-bitch intends to steal my boat. The tide's goin' out so he plans to just untie the dock lines, climb aboard and let the boat drift down the river far enough to be able to crank it without being heard. He's had just enough to drink at the Log Cabin to muster up his courage and he needs a boat to do his deal with the Mexicans. He's thinkin' if he can get the boat down as far south as Homosassa he'll be able to hide it out with some of his buddies back up Mason Creek where I'd never find it. Be a good plan if I were sittin' inside watchin' TV." 

El Toro continued to watch the skinny man sneak down to the dock and pause, lookin’ around to assure himself he was safe. He then turned, crouched and went first to the stern line which he began to untie. As the mousy little man began to work, el Toro left his hiding place and silently trotted across the damp lawn grass to the dock. As the big, bald man emerged from the shadows and stepped up on the dock, the skinny thief heard the dock boards squeak too late.  He spun around to find himself staring into the silencer barrel of a forty-four caliber Colt revolver, aimed directly between his eyes. The last thing he saw was the flash of gunpowder.

* * * 

The cartel boat was moving slowly to the east and Jake liked the idea of following it to port rather than getting ahead. He tapped Reed on the right arm and pointed to the radar screen. Reed nodded and looked back at el Toro who was still lost in another world and showed no interest in the radar image. The distance between the two boats lessened rapidly and as they rounded one of the westernmost barrier islands there was the cartel boat, the same Cigarette which they had admired in the Gulf, except now they were not piloting el Toro’s old grouper boat. They were well within sight of each other and the Mexicans waved in acknowledgement, motioning for Jake to follow. Jake waved back and the two boats headed for the mainland, the Magnum following at a distance of two hundred yards. The Mexicans clearly knew their way since the waters in the area were shallow and Jake carefully monitored the depth sonar as they weaved in among the mangroves, following an invisible and unmarked channel.

"Thank God for the GPS", Jake thought. "If we have to leave in a hurry there's no way I'd ever find this channel again without it. I can see the reef inches below the surface almost everywhere. This little channel must'a been blasted out years ago by the fishermen."

Then the cartel boat began to slow and seemed to be headed directly into a solid wall of mangroves. It slowed to an idle and quietly made a hard turn to the left, disappearing from sight. Jake pulled the throttle back to idle and strained to see where the other boat had gone. Suddenly there was a narrow opening in the mangroves, barely wide enough for the forty-foot Magnum to squeeze through.

The mangrove trees overhung the channel almost like a tunnel.

Jake was again thinking, "So much for the rapid escape option. This is the only way in and out of this damn place. These bastards knew exactly what they were doin' when they picked it. It's like a fuckin' trap!"

He leaned to his left and said to Reed, who instinctively sensed what Jake was thinking, "John, better get the AR-15 ready. This may be an ambush and they're using this Francisco character as bait. This is no new route for these guys. They know this end of Cuba like it's their own back yard and this has to be where they pick up the Cuban illegals. You heard 'em say our passengers were all Cubanos. Tell that damn Knox to snap out of it and get ready to shoot our way out. We sure as hell can't turn 'round. His buddy Francisco may be the least of our worries if they start shootin'."

Reed's years as a Marine in Iraq brought back bitter memories of situations like this and he said to Jake, "This little meeting is turning to shit fast. I'm gettin' the rocket launchers out'a the hatch so they'll be handy. Keep movin' as slow as possible and put the boat in neutral when we get to the next turn. If it's an ambush I wanna’ be ready to take out the whole boat in one shot."

Jake nodded and idled forward for another twenty yards, putting the boat in neutral and letting its’ momentum carry them up to the next turn. As they floated into the turn the cartel boat came back into view, now tied to a decrepit old wooden dock where a dozen or so little fishing boats were also moored. There was no room left for the Magnum to tie up at the dock but one of the Mexicans was standing on the bow of the Cigarette holding a dock line, gesturing for Jake to come alongside. But something was bad wrong! No one was on the dock watching these two unusual boats come into this little backwater cove. No other Mexicans were to be seen on the cartel boat or on the dock. The lone Mexican on the bow was looking nervously over his left shoulder at something other than the approaching Magnum.

Reed shouted, "Ambush! It's a trap! Grab your gun, Jake!"

Reed quickly ducked below the gunwale of the Magnum and reached for his AR-15. At the same time Jake put the big boat in reverse to stop the drift toward the cartel boat. He pulled his AR-15 from its spot on the seat next to him and slid down below the cowling surrounding the cockpit, at the same time trying to position the boat so that it could be turned around and at least be headed away from the other boat. But not a shot had been fired and only the one nervous Mexican, obviously left as a decoy, had been seen since entering the cove. Even he now jumped from the bow of the cartel boat and began running along the rickety dock.  A gunshot shattered the drone of the Lycomings. The Mexican fell face down on the dock, the back of his head gone. Jake cried out to the others, "They've shot one of their own. What the hell's goin' on here?"

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