I was relieved when Gun showed up at my house this morning. We talked about Alejandro’s proposal. I had to plan to find our killer and child rapist. In the process, we might manage to bring down at least one slave trade ring. Gun called our captain. An hour later there was a knock on my door. When I opened my door, I found an imposing six-foot two-inch African-American gentleman dressed in a tailored navy blue suit. His mirrored sunglasses did not reflect half the light of his broad smile.
“Agent, Gil. I’m glad to see they are letting you out from behind your desk.”
We shook hands, and Gil replied, “I understand I have you to thank for this.”
I nodded and motioned him into my small home. I grabbed us coffee and the three of us took a seat at my coffee table. I spoke to Gil, “Before you thank me for getting you out from behind your desk, you may want to hear what you’re enrolled into. We have a lead on who killed Kathy, her parents, and her uncle.”
Gil put down his coffee on the table and looked intently into my eyes for a moment. “Who would that be?” he asked.
Gun leaned back into his chair, took a sip of coffee, and responded. “Well, we don’t have a name. However, Diablo paid a visit to Barry here last night. It appears we’ve agreed to team up with him to bring in the scum. Diablo says he’s bad for business.”
Gil looked uncomfortable and attempted to relax his posture. Small beads of sweat glistened on his forehead. “You’re not thinking it’s me, are you? I mean, my idea with Raul. I had no idea Diablo would do that to him.”
I was honestly surprised. I never considered Gil, a suspect, and I wondered why he suddenly had such a guilty conscience. Gun had picked up on it too. Before I can even start the questioning, he dove right into Gil. “So, Gil. What did you expect Diablo to do with Raul?
Gil wiped the sweat from his forehead. “Nothing. I mean that was the plan. Just get the guy over the border, and he would deliver a message. I know I’m acting guilty here fellas, but I feel like I’m being set up. Why else would the Bureau suddenly let me out from behind my desk?”
I appreciated his concern. I had the same concerns. It seemed way too convenient to get him into the field again. Our captain made one simple phone call. Why was the FBI so eager to get Gil involved once more? I decided to put my cards on the table with him. “Gil, I don’t consider you a suspect, or at least I didn’t. I don’t know why they let us enroll you. Perhaps they suspect you, or maybe it’s an opportunity at redemption. Either way, are you still interested?”
You could see Gil relax. He leaned forward and took a long sip of his coffee. He let out a relaxing breath, smiled, and nodded. We had everyone we needed. Now that we were all on the same page I began to explain my plan to the team.
“This is going to be more book work than footwork in the beginning. We know Kathy was found near Huntington Beach. That’s a long way from Barstow or the desert. Her parents were murdered in their home around Santa Ana. Caleb was killed in his desert hideaway, and we found the immigrants chained up in a safe house between Barstow and the border. That’s a lot of ground to cover.”
Gil chimed in, “I have contacts with Border Patrol. I believe they will help us map the area with one of their drones. We can have them track the paths between the border, Lockhart, the safe house, Caleb’s house, and Orange County. Maybe we can figure out the pathway they are using to move people around.”
Gun looked confused and asked Gil, “How does that help us solve our murder?”
Gil pointed at an imaginary map in the air. “Suppose Caleb did kidnap Kathy. That means she had to be somewhere in these areas after Caleb had died.” Gun and I assumed his swooping circles represented the desert. Gil continued, “Whoever did this would not have simply driven her back to her old neighborhood dressed as a sex slave and killed her a few miles from home. They would have taken her somewhere and then attempted to train her.”
We all got silent the moment Gil reminded us of this. “Training” a sex slave customarily involved rape, beatings, and drugs until the individual no longer considered themselves valuable. It was a form of torture and brainwashing. Once completed the girls might survive for a few years, or maybe only a few weeks. Many died of overdoses or killed by their johns. If a sex slave attempted to escape she could be beaten to death. Whatever Kathy’s last days were like, that young child had gone through hell.
Gun finally spoke up. “So the plan is to try to find where they are holding the sex slaves, raid the place, and then see if we can get anybody talking to us about Kathy?”
Gil nodded. The hard part was not going to be finding them. The hard part was going to be catching them, and the person responsible for Kathy and her family’s death. Alejandro had been smart. The women he handed over were not trained for trafficking. He knew they could not give us any useful intel into his organization or his people. That was fine with me. The less information he provided us, the less I needed his cooperation. I had decided when Alejandro left my house last night I would stop the person that was bad for his business, and I would finish Diablo.