Under Fire Excerpt

Chapter 1
     Driving his unmarked blue sedan down Military Trail, Detective Sergeant Rick Malone tailed Lorenzo Valentine—a known member of the Mendez crime family. Careful not to be detected, Malone moved with the normal flow of traffic, pursuing the mid-sized box truck. Based on many hours of surveillance, Malone knew Lorenzo was transporting illegal firearms to a warehouse owned by the crime family. Once the gunrunner reached his destination, the criminals would offload the weapons, sort them into categories, and shelve them. After they received an order from one of their illegal buyers, the crime family would repackage the firearms into wood crates and have them delivered to various gangs located throughout Mexico.
     Predicated on the criminal’s prior history, Malone believed Lorenzo would make a pit stop before delivering the weapons. Several miles farther down the road, the crook put on his right blinker, turned into the Relax Inn, and parked in front of the low-key hotel. No doubt looking forward to seeing his lover, Lorenzo jumped out of the twenty foot truck and rushed inside room number ten. Being as inconspicuous as possible, Malone parked his vehicle at the far end of the hotel. He cut the engine and looked over at his close friend, who was sitting in the passenger seat—Special Agent Tom Woods of the FBI.
     “Everything is falling into place,” Malone said. “Let’s go put the screws to him.”
     Woods smiled. “I’ve waited a long time for this. It’s finally time to kick it up a notch.”
     Malone knew it was Woods’ investigation, not his. The Miami Police Department wasn’t investigating the  Mendez crime family. But that didn’t stop Malone’s desire for cold justice. Time and time again, whenever their criminal cases hit brick walls, Malone and Woods would work together under the radar, without the consent of the FBI or the Miami PD. Conducting covert operations, gathering incriminating evidence on their adversaries, they had a solid track record of hitting home runs, bringing some of the most ruthless and violent criminals in Miami to justice. “I agree with you,” Malone finally said. “Desperate times call for desperate measures.”
     “The Mendez crime family has always managed to stay one step ahead of me.”
     “It’s time to take off the gloves. We can’t keep letting them operate with impunity.” Malone knew the FBI had been gathering information on the Mendez crime family for eight months. Even though it was common knowledge they were major players in arms trafficking and drug trafficking, the FBI had acquired little evidence against them—other than arresting a few low-level drug dealers and illegal arms dealers, who were suspected of doing business with the crime family. But these small-time arrests didn’t amount to much. From enlisting the help of a high-priced attorney, one of the best and brightest in Miami, the criminal charges against the crooks resulted in nothing more than a slap on the wrist.
     Woods’ eyes narrowed. “We can’t let Lorenzo slip through our fingers.”
     “The trap is set. We just have to tighten the noose, that’s all.”
     “Lorenzo has slipped through the cracks before.” Woods clenched his fists. He was a physically fit man, with a stern face, close-cropped black hair, and narrow brown eyes. “He’s proven to be very resourceful.”
     “But we have something different this time—the element of surprise.” Malone knew Woods wanted to take advantage of Lorenzo, to coerce him into revealing insider information about the crime family’s illegal business dealings. Armed with this knowledge, the FBI would be able to engineer a large bust, one that would have enough illegal guns and drugs to put the members of the Mendez crime family behind bars for a long time.
     “Let’s execute our plan.” Woods nodded. “Let’s go stick it to him.”
     “Nothing would make me happier.”
     Malone and Woods climbed out of the vehicle, hurried to the hotel, and stopped in front of room number ten. Woods reached into his tan blazer’s coat pocket and removed a leather lock pick case. Malone surveyed his surroundings, making sure no one was coming in or out of the adjacent hotel rooms. Using the metal instruments, Woods quickly sprung the lock. Malone threw open the door and, determined to implement their plan, they rushed into the hotel room. Malone switched on the light, revealing Lorenzo and his girlfriend in bed, both naked. Covered with sweat, the couple bolted upright, to a sitting position. Exhausted from having sex, the couple sat completely still, shocked expressions on their faces. The covers were torn off the bed, lying on the wood floor, bunched up in a ball.
     Lorenzo’s face reddened. “Who in the hell are you guys?” 
     “I’m Detective Malone.” He flashed his gold badge. “And this is Agent Woods, FBI.”
     “I know my rights. You can’t barge in here, not without having a warrant.”
     Malone gave him a big grin. He knew he was in the wrong, but the end justified the means. No matter what it took, he was determined to take the crime family’s illegal guns and drugs off the streets. Malone took out his digital camera and, looking around the room, took several pictures, capturing the entire scene.
     “What the hell are you doing?”
     Malone smiled. “What does it look like? I’m taking a bunch of pictures.”
     “Any idiot can see that. Now, put away that camera. And leave.”    
     Malone looked at the woman and jerked his thumb toward the door. “Get out.”
     The woman climbed out of the bed, combing her fingers through her long blond hair, and slipped into a tight black dress. She moved past Malone, toward the back of the room. On the table, right in front of the window, was her purse and keys. She grabbed them and stalked out of the hotel room, without a backward glance.
     Malone put away his digital camera. “We can do this the nice way or the hard way.”
     “This is pathetic, isn’t it? You guys are going to bust me for having consensual sex?”
     “That’s Toni Mendez’s wife. He’s head of the crime family, the boss of all bosses.”
     Lorenzo’s faced turned chalk-white. “So, now what, you’re going to blackmail me?”
     “We give him these pictures, what do you think he’ll do to you.”
     “I … I.”  Lorenzo stammered. “I don’t know.”
     Malone knew exactly how the mob leader would react. Once he found out, he would show no mercy or forgiveness. “Toni Mendez is as ruthless as they come, known for torturing and killing his enemies for betraying him. He’ll cut out your eyes and slit your throat.”
     Lorenzo swallowed hard. “Don’t do anything rash. Let’s talk things over first.”
     “Do you want us to show your boss these pictures?”
     “Are you crazy? Of course, I don’t. Let’s try to work something—”
     Woods cut him off. “Shut up. Now, get out of bed and get dressed.”
     “That’s not a problem.” Lorenzo got to his feet. He put on his black suit with a white button-down shirt and a red tie. He was a large man, with a protruding belly, a military style haircut, and light blue eyes.
     “Grab your keys.” Woods drew a Glock 19 nine millimeter from a holster on his left hip and pointed it at the man’s chest. “Let’s go inspect your truck. Go open the back rolling door.”
     Malone and Woods followed Lorenzo out of the hotel room, across a walkway, and stopped at the back of the box truck. Unlocking the padlock, Lorenzo rolled up the back door. Four wood crates were stacked inside the truck, along the far right wall. Malone climbed into the truck and picked up a crowbar. He pried open all of the crates, revealing the contents inside them—two filled with AR-15s and two filled with AK-47s. Located in the corner of the truck, in an open cardboard box, were two kilos of cocaine.
     “This is a bad day for you,” Malone said. “These offenses carry a long jail term.”
     Lorenzo hung his head. “There must be something we can do, like cut a deal.”
     Woods grabbed Lorenzo by the shirt collar, forced him to sit on the edge of the truck, and looked him dead in the eye. “You’re going to work for me now. I want to know every time the Mendez crime family is scheduled to receive a large shipment of illegal firearms and drugs.”
     “What’s in it for me?”
     “We’ll work out a deal, all nice and legal. You help me bring down the Mendez crime family and you don’t get busted for everything here—the illegal firearms, the cocaine, and we won’t give your boss the pictures of you screwing his wife.”
     Lorenzo looked nervous. “Toni ever finds out I snitched on him, he’ll kill me.”
     “Take it easy, will you?  Things ever get that out of control, we’ll put you into a witness protection program. You’ll get a clean slate, a new birth certificate, social security number, and driver’s license. The United States government will keep you safe and sound.”
     “I’ll do it. I mean, I don’t have much choice.”
     “I’ll be in touch.” Woods clapped him on the shoulder. “Enjoy the rest of your day.”
     Satisfied with how things had worked out, Malone and Woods left him standing there. Heading down the walkway, they smiled at a young couple checking into the hotel. Climbing into the blue sedan, they sped out of the parking lot, heading toward the Banana Crab, a popular restaurant in Miami, known for having excellent seafood and cold beer.   

Copyright © 2022 RUSSELL WILLIAMS




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This book is a work of fiction. Names, characters, places, businesses, and incidents are products of the author’s imagination or are used fictitiously. Any resemblance to actual persons, living or dead, is coincidental and is not the intention of the author.