After talking more with my mates and looking at the next three months schedules, I was more relieved about turning the Horsey House into emergency office space.
There were no more large groups of new employees to be trained at Fort Smith for the three months. We did have several small groups of twenty men to finish out Vicky and Ching Lee’s security groups.
The brunt of the training was various police departments, including Harrisburg and several municipalities that had participated in the raid. Each session was two weeks. There were three month’s worth of those groups along with recurring training for the FBI, DHS and our own groups.
Those police departments always opted for five star motels in Washington and Annapolis for the nightlife. We would be able to get along OK without the rooms.
Another thing that was with Fort Adams, Fort Polo, and Fort Dean, the number of people coming here for recurrent training could be reduced dramatically. It was far cheaper and easier to add trainers as a permanent part of the staffing at those sites or fly them in for a month at a time and adding the equipment as part of the permanent fixture.
Another thing Andy and I needed to do was find a jumping off point close to the pipeline where it crossed the US border.
I wanted to have a basic plan in my head when I met with Andy about setting up the pipeline security plan. Andy was to plan the logistics and the manpower but I needed a plan to put all of it together.
The pipeline ran from Corpus Christi south-west a bit to miss Baffin Bay, then nearly parallel to Route 77 on the east side of it. It then continued south-east of Harlingen on its way to the border.
After it crossed the border it went south on the west side of Mexican Route 101, eventually crossing 101 north of San Fernando then straight south and hundreds of villages and towns that were the markets for the stolen gas. It was two hundred and fifty miles from the Texas border to the Mexico refinery at Tampico.
According to Mr. Garcia there had been no problems with tapping on the pipelines within fifty miles of the refinery. There were so many pipelines and so much pipeline activity the tappers wouldn’t risk it. That meant that we had two hundred miles in Mexico to patrol with around one hundred miles that were hot spots on the north-south pipeline.
The first air strip we needed to take control of was one half mile from the pipeline and two miles north of Valle Hermoso. The EIT group had pulled the night radar data from the Doppler radar located at Brownsville Texas for the last two weeks.
It had been easy for the EIT guys to do get the data; the FAA made the data available to law enforcement. I had the access because of the State Department.
What the data showed from the Doppler was that there were small airplane flights every night – sometimes four and five a night. Satellite data that I could look at showed that there were a number of vehicles meeting the airplanes.
By the infrared scans those cars were there before the planes landed and did not leave until after the planes left. My thought was that the headlights were to light up the runway.
Some went north to the Brownsville entry point and through. Others went north-west to the border and stopped. There people and materials started walking north. Some to be met by more people and ATVs or four wheel drive vehicles.
Drugs for sure but who were the people? They were important enough to be flown in to make it illegally across the border with cartel help or had paid a hefty price. Worse yet, were they part of the human trafficking that cartel supplied girls to the brothels scattered across the US? It seemed that every week there was a news story about another big bust in some city.
No matter how hard authorities tried they could never seem to put a dent in the oldest profession known to mankind.
I wondered why DHS and the border patrol was not seeing or stopping this. It was so obvious. But then I was not sitting in a room with hundreds of monitors to watch for hours. Your mind had to get numb after looking at that stuff week after week.
By the Google map the gravel grass runway was four thousand feet long, at least two hundred and fifty feet wide, cut out in a forest. It was unusually long and wide for an illicit strip that should have stood out like a sore thumb on anybody’s satellite pictures or U2 surveillance photographs. I knew there were those kinds of pictures of every square inch of Mexico.
But then its primary use was at night and there were no beacons or fixed runway lights for you to stay on the center line. Using car headlights was dicey and landing lights on small planes was even worse because they were terribly unreliable. Vibration was a killer of lights on piston engines and jet prop aircraft. Our shop was always replacing them, even on the jets that were nearly vibration free.
Then there was the second air strip one hundred miles further south – almost an exact copy of the first – and just as close to the pipeline. I wondered why? Then it came to me.
These strips were originally made by the pipeline companies during the construction of the line. Did the military use them in the Great War to protect the pipelines from sabotage? That’s why they were both so close to the pipeline. I would bet there were old roads to the pipeline right of ways. The cartel was just taking advantage of the past.
The cartel was taking more than gas from the pipeline. They were using the pipeline right of way as a roadway into the US. The right of way was always cut and cleared every couple of years. This was done to give inspectors and repair crews access. That was one reason that the right of way had well used vehicle paths on it.
I was willing to bet the company that did the clearing was cartel owned or run. That would give them legitimate access to the pipeline and the tappers; no need to interrupt their operations or hide anything.
But why did the cartel need to use both landing strips and all the rest of them for that matter? Redundancy of their delivery system? Doubtful. An emergency strip? I doubted that they were concerned about pilots or cheap planes. In fact the satellite showed plane wreckage at both ends of the runways.
Dueling cartel factions was a better bet.
I went back to the map of lower Texas – we needed a staging area for the heavy vehicles we were taking down the pipeline right of way. As close to the border as we could get it and – because of the Rio Grande – close to a bridge.
After looking at the map I decided I needed a break, plus it was soon time for us to meet. I needed to make one more call and that was to General Ingram. I had not heard a word on the giant list of equipment I had purchased to buy from the surplus auction site.
”Good afternoon General, are there any hot spots that need some water dumped on them today?” I asked.
”Luckily nothing today. What can I do for you?” he asked.
”I need an update on the surplus list; things are happening fast. If the bids have been rejected, I need to put other plans together,” I said.
”The list has been approved. There should have been an email sent today. The MRAPs are not going to cost you anything but the shipping and that’s going to cost you a lot. They are the early versions – they have been replaced with several updated models.
”The Army and Marines have approved a completely different vehicle they are buying. It would cost more to demilitarize and scrap them than we would get in return. The MRAPs are in Texas, the Humvees are in North Carolina.
”The C130s are in Arizona getting the mothballs removed. They are going to have to go through complete inspections and upgrades before you can use them. I would expect it will take months for that to happen,” the General said.
”Is there anything else you might be interested in?” he asked.
”Hellfire missiles, Hydra 70 rockets, some 500 pounders and contact fuses,” I replied.
”I cannot help you with those. I take it you have things getting ready to happen in Mexico but aren’t those weapon a little overkill?” he asked.
”Shock and Awe to send them running for cover. With no military training they will hopefully keep running. By the time they get organized I intend for it to be too late to do anything except watch from a distance,” I said.
”And if not, collateral damage is a likely outcome,” he said.
”Anything is possible,” I said as I hung up and went to meet the girls. It was Friday and we were going to call an early meeting and spend time with the boys.
The meeting was normal with a few exceptions, we would need to be in the office tomorrow and Sunday. The group of former Black Bear employees were bringing computer records to start installing on our systems.
Vicky informed us the freighter was arriving a week early in Maputo. The C5 would need to be sent the end of next week with the help to get the freight from the docks to Fort Polo; it would also carry needed supplies. The plane would bring back more freight from the mines.
Everything was ready for the freight the freighter was bringing. On another note, only one 802 was necessary to conduct surveillance of the entire property at a time. A pattern was established and as one 802 completed the pattern the other would take off and begin, if anything interesting was seen.
The men that were in training had removed all the furniture from the first floor of the Horsey Hotel. The second floor would be done on Monday. They would have Tuesday and Wednesday off and leave for Fort Polo on the C5 on Thursday and be back in time for the Mexican or French adventures, or maybe both.
Bobs Construction was knocking down a couple of non-load bearing walls and repairing the drywall on Saturday to expand several offices for Andy’s group. The painting would be done on Monday.
Andy and his family did not get back from Fort Dean until well after dark. It seems that two of the Air Boats had been returned by the FBI. Our new employees there quickly had a change of opinion of Andy and the JBG men and were coming to their senses.
Two of the team leaders – as their previous command had been structured – took Andy, his family and the flight crew for a fast air boat jaunt through the bayou and marshes. They ended up at a swanky Cajun bar and seafood restaurant at a bend in the river at Cameron. It was not that far away from the property by taking the bayou and deep water swamp.
They apparently had an excellent Cajun meal and a really good time.
Edit by Alfmeister
Proof read by Bob W.