Warren Murphy: Mafia Fix

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    Mafia Fix
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When ten billion filthy drug dollars' worth of heroin pollutes the Jersey shore and threatens to make the Mafia a second Evil Empire, the president knows there's just one man who can stop a Jersey Kingpin from destroying the country and that's an ex-Jersey cop resurrected and nicknamed the Destroyer. Remo Williams is on a mission to mainline death and destruction into the Cosa Nostra before Main Street gets stuck. But how will Master Chiun's masterpiece of a human killing machine score? Will history's biggest drug score go bust? With Remo on the mission you know he'll sniff out the swine and cover his tracks but when he gets to the top will he find he's gone too high and realize that the Mafia fix is in?

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* Title : #004 : MAFIA FIX *

* Series : The Destroyer *

* Author(s) : Warren Murphy and Richard Sapir *

* Location : Gillian Archives *



It was a perfect trap.

It had been sown in the flowering fields of Turkey during the wet, warm spring and it bloomed briefly in the back streets of Marseilles in July, and now it would be harvested in the muggy heat of late August on Pier 27 of Hudson, New Jersey, "gateway to the nation," as it had been called when the nation had looked only to Europe for its culture.

Now, via Europe, it was importing death in bricks and bars and bags to be sniffed, skin-popped or mainlined into the veins of Americans.

A glassine envelope with only a trace element of an ounce was worth $5 to the person who wanted to murder himself with it. A plastic lunch bag big enough for a slice of cake or a school lunch sandwich was worth $15,000, an uncut brick of it was worth as much as $100,000, and a suitcase of it might be worth millions.

Sometimes two valises would come in, and if seized by the authorities, the news would be splashed across the front pages of the nation's newspapers: $9 Million seized or $16 Million seized, Biggest Haul Ever, Nab Record Drug Cache.

By the ounce it was worth more than gold. And adding the bags and valises, the false bottoms in suitcases, the holes in statues, the hollow heels and money-belts full, it came into the bloodstream of America by the ton. But never more at one time than a couple of suitcases full. Never more, as far as the Treasury Department knew, until a dying man whispered to an undercover narcotics agent in Cleveland, Ohio, about the big one.

When the big one came, you would be able to buy it by the pound at two-thirds of what you were paying now. When the big one came, the little wholesalers would be wiped out. When the big one came, you would get it in pills, in serum bottles, in cigarettes, all pre-packaged as it had never been packaged before.

You could buy a franchise in June for delivery in September. You could get the stuff with any label you wanted on the cover devices. And you could get all you could sell when the big one came.

Another informer in San Francisco told about the big one. And in Dallas and Miami and Chicago and Boston and Detroit and New York, the signals kept filtering through to the local narco squads, to the state police, the FBI and the Treasury Department's narcotics unit. The signals said that the big one is coming in August and by the time the first football is kicked off in the first high school football game, there will be enough to turn on every cafeteria, office, street and home in the nation.

That's how big the big one was.

And that was the first mistake.

As an assistant attorney general of the United States pointed out in a secret conference in Washington: "What the mob is doing this time is the equivalent of the Viet Gong leaving the countryside and deciding to fight a set battle at sea. Gentlemen, we've been given the first real break in our war against the drug traffic. They've come to play in our ballpark."

On an international level, the first steps were easy. Intelligence-gathering is a dull accounting process of examining pictures and charts, markets and large-scale movements of things. For an army to move anywhere, gasoline, men and trucks must begin to roll. On a large scale, the indicators might be the sale of grain, a rise in the price of oil, the scarcity of cigarettes. Nothing big happens without the indicators.

And for the big one in heroin, there were plenty of indicators. The harvest would require the agricultural production of half a nation and the first indicator was the almost immediate drop in unemployment and starvation in that nation. The price of farm labour went up. The price of grain went up. Fields that had grown wheat for centuries were no longer planted with wheat. You didn't have to stand fifty miles outside of Ankara taking photographs of fields to realize that wheat as a crop was being abandoned.

You could read it in the New York Times listings for the commodity markets. Grain shipments to Turkey. You compared that to the weather reports for the region and when you found out it was very good growing weather, you knew something was being grown besides grain.

You could walk through the food stalls of Ankara and seeing the rise in prices for all produce, know that what was being grown was not for eating in Turkey. You then checked the agricultural exports from Turkey and, seeing no rise, you knew their farmers were not exporting grains or fruits.

Thus, even if the narcotics outlets hadn't leaked the word about the big one, the United States government would still have known about it.

"At last, they've made the big mistake," said the assistant attorney general.

And as the Central Intelligence Agency kept its nose to the periphery of the big shipments from Turkey to Marseilles where gummy, dark-coloured commercial opium was distilled into refined, white powder, the State Department pressured Elysee Palace to keep its police away.

"Yes, the United States understood France's desire to free itself of the stigma of being a clearing house for heroin.

"Yes, the United States understood that such a big arrest would vindicate France.

"However, did France understand that this was a singular opportunity to deal a severe blow to the traffickers in the United States; that the big one had to go somewhere, and that at that somewhere must be the top people, whose arrests would cripple the flow of illegal narcotics, not only in the United States and not only in France, but all around the world?

"And, of course, if France persisted in its plan to make arrests at the Marseilles heroin factories, it might be necessary for the United States to send a public note of protest to France condemning it for interfering with a United States plan to deal a mortal blow to international drug traffic. The international press might even hear a rumour that France seized the heroin to protect United States distributors,

"Wouldn't it be so much simpler if France were publicly lauded for its fine cooperation in the big arrest?

"France is always willing to cooperate? Of course. Allies again and forever."

So the trap was set, good and tight and big, and on that hot muggy morning at Pier 27 in Hudson, New Jersey, the trap was ready to be sprung.

Inspector Vincent Fabia said the special prayer he had been saying since the spring. "God, let me have this one. I'll never ask for another. This one. Let me have this one."

He waved to the private guard at the gate and eased his green truck with the wooden window flaps and the yellow painted sign saying "Vinnie's Hots-Best Dogs on the Pier," over to the guard who held out his hand as if to shake. Vinnie reached down out of the cab and grasped the outstretched hand with his left. The guard smiled and waved him through. It was a five-dollar smile, the amount of the rolled up bill Vincent Fabia had passed with his left hand and had been passing every day, with few exceptions, for the last three weeks.

It was the small "vig" that was the rule of life in Hudson, New Jersey. A guard at the gate, a shop steward here, an assistant sanitation inspector there, all of whose friendship was necessary if you sold hot dogs from an open truck. And of course, if you sold hot dogs from a truck, you didn't always have the money to pay and you'd plead short every so often, promising to double up the next time.

Occasionally, Vincent Fabia would smile at the thought of his selling hot dogs, just as his father did; just as his father paid off to earn his living in Boston by giving money to the Irish cops who would call him a guinea and take his money and free hot dogs and free cigarettes. All the old man's money was going to put his son, Vincent Fabia, through Fordham. Vincent Fabia, who did not become a doctor or a lawyer or an accountant or a professor, but a cop who was a cop who, when he heard the Italian names linked to organized crime, would squirm in his stomach and vow that one day he would make the big bust with his name right out there, giving the world both vowels at the end of it.

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