“Let’s get the hell out of here, you never know when someone will come,” I said.
“Sure, we can look at this while you drive.” Hugo said.
“Hugo it you start that playback and find anything at all in the file while I’m driving, I will end up in a ditch. Hold on I’ll find a country church parking lot. I saw a half dozen as we drove up from the compound.”
“Okay, I’m not that curious,” Hugo said and I knew it was a lie.
I stopped the car in the small parking lot of a frame building the was really not much larger than a old style farm house. The only reason I knew it was a church was the small sign attached to a large cross, it read, ‘Sweet Water Baptist Church.’
“Too bad we don’t have coffee,” Hugo said.
“Did anybody tell you that you are demanding when you are in the passenger seat,” I said with a smile.
“Yeah, I don’t do well, when I’m not in charge.” Hugo said. “Then he put his laptop on the dash and started the time lapse images from the game trail camera. They started in the sunlight there was a truck in the parking lot with a boat trailer as well as Hugo’s bronco. The first images were of Hugo walking to the bronco and sliding the ladder on top and tying it to the cargo frame up there. Then he drove off.
Time passed until a boat landed and a two men spent some time loading the boat onto a trailer. They had a pretty good sized string of pan fish. It was quite the haul. But certainly nothing illegal about it.
We waited and nothing happened all the way through the night. Then it started again. “I thought it only ran 24 hours.” I said.
“It does run 24hours at least. Then it keeps on going till the battery dies. I put new batteries in so it runs till it died. I started it noon Saturday and it ran till the batteries died sometime Sunday,” Hugo explained.
I just kept watching as the time flipped over. We had seen a boat launch Sunday about noon probably someone going fishing with the kids after church. That theory was boosted by the two kids who climbed from the car and ‘helped’with the launching of the boat.
They returned empty handed sometime after 5PM. The time stamp seemed to be accurate. Just when I was about to give up, because the image had gone dark again. It was a long time before a cars headlight showed up on the screen. The car could have belonged to a catfisherman, but he had no boat. When he climbed from the car he did have a large flashlight.
“So what is he doing?” I asked.
“I have no idea. He doesn’t appear to have a rifle, and he isn’t really dressed for a walk in the swamp. I bet he is meeting a boat. He is picking up something. Something they can’t land in a port. Not even in a small port like Blane or New Holt,” Hugo said.
“That’s a first rate theory, nice work. It will be even better, if it is true,” I said.
The time stamp showed it to be midnight when he went to the small boat ramp and flashed the light several times. A few minutes later a small boat pulled up beside the wooden dock. From the boat five small figures worked their way ashore. “Illegals,” I said. They were not all that happy to be in the states. They were cowering. “Looks like they might not be here of their own free will,” I said.
“Damn, it would be so much easier to land them on some desolate beach in Florida,” I said.
“Think about it. If you bring them ashore in Florida, you have to worry about landing then in a state with a coast line that the coast guard patrols. Once ashore there is the problem of transporting them up the coast. As you said they don’t look too happy to be here. There is always a chance for something to go wrong. Say they are going to Washington. Philly or even New York, you would have a lot less moving them around by road to do from here. You don’t have customs or any real law enforcement along the waterway, so you get them ashore no sweat.
Then it just becomes down to how to move them around. You are starting on a desolate road which connects back to roads from the days before the interstate highway system. Even then you can connect to the interstate highway system withing fifty miles. It’s perfect for dropping off small amounts of contraband,” Hugo explained.
“Or five soon to be whores from the Ukraine,” I said. Yeah it was just a guess but white whores were valuable in big towns. The Russian mob was big in strip joints which were just fronts for prostitution. Everyone in law enforcement knew that.
“Or that,” he said. “It’s more complicated than most ways to land them, but it’s pretty safe.”
“So we going to call homeland security and customs,” I asked.
“We could do that, or we could just wait till them come back and bust them ourselves,” Hugo suggested. “There was just one of him, and he didn’t look like he had more than a handgun, if that.”
“Hugo it sounds real good, but you need some logistical support if nothing else,” I said.
“Well, I can dream,” he said. “I guess it could be weeks before they land anything else.”
“How often did your CI say they were using the road?” I asked.
“His words were, ‘There is a lot of new traffic on the road,” Hugo explained.
“That sounds like more than once a month or so. They are either flooding the country with girls from the old USSR, or this has become a regular stop on the pipeline for other things worth smuggling as well.” I suggested.
“Yeah, I guess we do need homeland security, or somebody like them,” Hugo said.
“I’m thinking Agent Mission with the State Bureau of Investigation.” I thought of her because she would protect my identity.
“Well we have a problem there. We are going to have to go up the chain. Report it to Captain Smith. I have no idea where he would kick it.” Hugo Said.
I could see the logic in it, but I could also see it coming back to bite me. Hugo should receive credit for it, but higher ups had a tendency to want to parade my skinny ass before the TV cameras. I had to figure out how to best keep that from happening.
“Hugo, I need for this to go up to Agent Mission in the SBI. I can’t tell you why, it just has to happen. So you tell Captain Smith, but I need to tell Agent Mission at least at the same time, if not before.” I said it very clearly. He had to know something was wrong with it, but I give it to him, he didn’t seem to be shaken by it.
“How about you let me drive your car, and you use your cell phone. Then when we get back to the office, I’ll call Smith. Have your agent give us time to make that notification before she calls him to take over the case. When she calls, Smith is going to know something is wrong he is no dummy. If he ever believed that bullshit about transfers, he won’t believe it any more, so Terry or whoever, you are blown.”
“Yeah, I guess I am.” I said.
I dialed the number for Agent Mission who was my controller. “Hello Mission, this is Terry and we got a problem.”
“What you got yourself into now,” she asked.
She listened to me for about five minutes and didn’t say a word. “Sylvia how the hell do you get into shit like this. We have been looking for a crew of Russian white slavers. We couldn’t figure out where they moved their operation. This is probably them, so yes it is important.”
“Yeah I know and I didn’t do it this time. Hugo my partner, you put me with, found them. He is a hell of a cop and deserves the recognition for this. All I want to do is not be paraded around in front of the TV cameras. But Hugo has to report to his supervisor, and they might drag me into it unless you can manage to make sure that doesn’t happen. It would be nice if you could still get Hugo the recognition he deserves.”
“Has Hugo made the call to Captain Smith yet?” Mission asked.
“No he agreed to hold off till we get back to the compound. So you have two hours more or less to make something happen. I’ll go along with anything as long as Hugo gets the credit for the bust.” I said.
Well if we take a team in there, he would be on the stage at the press conference, and get an ‘atta boy’ from the AG, would that do?” Mission asked.
“That would do fine,” I said.
“One more thing, we want to be there when it goes down,” I said. “I’ll wear a ski mask.”
“You bet your ass you will,” Mission said. “Now listen to me. Hugo is a cop with twenty years in and the Captain has a lot to lose if anything happens to you, but ultimately it’s up to you. You want to move on, or try to stay there.”
“This is a speed bump thing, just this one time you explain to the captain I don’t ever do news conferences, but not why that is the case. I’ll take care of Hugo, who will be gone in a few months. He doesn’t need to know the story just the situation now.” I said.
“It’s your little ass Sylvia, er Terry,” she said.
“Yes it is, nice of you to notice,” I said with a laugh. I clicked the phone off and turned to Hugo. “So you okay with that?” I asked.
“What are you talking about?” he asked me.
“I’ll tell you why I’m here in general strokes, and you forget all about it. Never mention it to me, or anyone else. If anyone asks you, plead ignorant, but tell me someone asked about me, no matter how insignificant it seems.” I said.
“Yeah I can do that,” he said.
“Alright I was a small town cop who got recruited for an undercover job a long way from home. I worked my way into a criminal enterprise and it went down. I need to hide out a while. The SBI stuck me here to hide me and to keep an eye on me. That all I can tell you.”
“That’s all I need to know. I really don’t need the credit for this, but the Captain is going to insist that the the Fish and Game Division get it.” He said.
“Yeah that’s how I figure it, but somebody has to be the face of Fish and Game, it might as well be you,” I said.
“Yeah, well if it keeps them from looking at you,” Hugo said. “It might look good on my resume later.”
“Hell Hugo, it is your lead, you worked it, you should get the credit for it.” I said. I meant it too.
When we got back Hugo went into the office to make the call. I went back to get the trike somewhere safe, but easy to use on a moments notice. Of course the bug out bag came to mind. I still didn’t have a place, but the events of the day showed me again the need for it.