At 0700 I was in the hotel café with my security detail, clerks and coffee. It was 0730 when the State Department people arrived – hung over.
“That must have been some party! I can order you a taper-off drink from the bar if you like,” I said as I poured myself another cup. I could see this was going to be another long day.
I let them eat breakfast before I told them we had a conference call at 0900. Then I gave them the final draft of the agreement we had worked out in the early hours of this morning. They were not happy campers.
”You can voice your displeasure with your boss about the misdirection you were given; they are the ones we will be talking to, so be in my room a few minutes before nine,” I said.
A few minutes before nine we had my State Department secure laptop hooked to a flat screen in the meeting room. The room had been swept for bugs by the Secret Service officers again this morning. At nine I keyed the codes in and requested an open link.
A few seconds later we were looking at the Vice President, the President, Dick James, General Ingram and the Secretary of the Navy. Together we discussed the agreement page by page.
I answered questions and explained the Argentine position as it was explained to me and how we arrived at the various wordings of the proposed agreement.
Then the discussion turned to the Naval part of the agreement and discussion about the deep water port access. They wanted one change and that was on the two week limit. Weather or needed repairs may affect the needed length of any stay.
”I will work on that at the 1000 meeting to see if I can get a longer period or an exemption for repairs,” I said.
The next discussion was on the runway.
”How did you maneuver them to allow us to build a runway that long?” the Vice President asked.
”I explained they needed an airport with that long a runway for emergency flights with heavy equipment and cargo planes to match,” I said.
The discussion lasted a few more minutes and then the President asked all the members if they were satisfied with the document. There were no objections and Dick James added that he thought it was a better agreement than expected.
”BJ, you are authorized to sign the preliminary document as the official representative of the United States of America. The Vice President will sign the finalized document after a vote in the Senate,” the President said.
With the call closed, we went to the 1000 meeting. The State Department people were still upset but were at least respectful.
There were some minor differences – the Argentine politicos wanted changes but they were so minor I didn’t think I needed to call Washington and they easily agreed to exemptions for the Navy visits.
Reporters were brought in and the documents signed to make the agreement semi-official until a Senate vote made it official.
After lunch I met with Argentina’s national anti-drug officials. Together we laid the groundwork for a combined effort to fight drug trafficking as part of the new regional anti-drug task force. That effort included participation in the testing and efforts that I had discussed in Mexico. It seemed everyone was getting fed up with the drug issues and were willing to fight it.
Wednesday night I attended a state dinner and political gathering with the well to do upper crust of Argentina. More politics as usual but I was learning to tolerate it and find the good things that happened from it. The people were interesting, the culture different.
In the end we all wanted the same things; security, three square meals a day, a better place for our children, a warm bed to share with someone that we loved. We all had different ideas on how to make that happen.
It was after midnight when the door closed on Air Force 2 for the flight home. They were to drop me off in Brownsville on Thursday morning before continuing on to Washington.
The wheels touching to runway at Brownsville woke me from a deep sleep in the fancy seat. Parked on the tarmac in the general aviation section, the white and blue distinctive plane was drawing attention.
Outside were two Humvees and three Suburbans. Most of the Humvees had been moved to support the effort on the pipelines and the expanding construction project that was to be the security zone. Marcy had sent several of the older armored Suburbans to fill the slack and to provide increased security for drivers and occupants.
The 747 was not due to land until noon because it had been delayed leaving Paris. Some of the prisoners had put up a fight. The time gave me a chance to go to Texas Steel and the control center that was still operating there.
It took an hour to get the completed updates. The teams would make it to the oil terminal at Puerto Vallarta today. On a VCATS call Andy and I decided to halt the next phase of the operation – starting on the third pipeline to the south – until we established patrol patterns and solidified camps.
The big push now was to complete the security zone. Bobs Construction was moving to the western end of the zone to start the prison and control center that would be needed there.
The plans for setting up the vehicle inspection sites and blocking all access through the zone were being implemented.
Five hundred Jersey barriers were being delivered to the zone near the Mexican border along with portable office units and hurricane tents at Tijuana. Tijuana was one of the busiest crossings along the border and our biggest challenge.
Five hundred more were delivered to San Luis Rio, Nogales, Ciudad Juarez, Laredo, Reynosa and Matamoros. All those places were where major highways crossed the border and where the US had immigration and DHS check points.
Those checkpoints had picked up in suspicious crossings, more drug arrests and arrests of cartel runners. All traffic crossing would be stopped and all people would be identified.
When I was satisfied with the progress there my security detail carried me to Matador prison.
The blacktop road was completed and the guard gates operating. Once through the gates – as we neared the prison – was the crematorium, just outside them was the quad gallows. Four guilty individuals could be hung at the same time if necessary.
The gallows had modern improvements over the old west designed ones. On those, after the hanging the rope was usually cut to get the victim down. No one wanted to hold the body to untie the nose or rope. The body usually released its fluids as life left it, especially with the body held upright.
On these gallows the noose was tied to a cable from an electric winch which could lower the body to the ground at the touch of a lever. It also allowed the proper slack so the neck was snapped before the victim’s feet hit the ground.
The crematorium could reduce four bodies at the same time to ashes in three hours or less.
On the left side of the road was the temporary housing for the guards; so far, there were twenty five installed. When finished there would be fifty, maybe more; there were two and three bedroom models to use a bunk houses. Several sleeping buses were parked there to take up the slack until they were all installed.
Denton Crabtree met us at the offices as I walked in. I was given a tour of the courtroom, the records storeroom, lunch room and the kitchen. There were still some workmen finishing up final touches. The kitchen was ready to go and there were several big coffee makers on a counter; one had hot coffee that I tried.
Next was the security office where all the cameras were monitored. The halls and all the rooms had cameras as well as a 360 around the building. There were no outside guard towers, just electrified fences and rows of wire.
Denton and I walked through the hall looking at the placement of the cells and fixtures in them. There were separate shower rooms every twenty cells. The prisoners would be taken to the showers every day. A five minute shower with a clean set of underwear, tee shirt and clean prison jump suit. Clean sheets and pillow cases were put on the bed once a week.
Denton’s men were busy, putting the prisoners from the Apple 1 and Baker 2 confinement into the first group of cells. They were nearly finished – it was good that they had done these prisoners first. It allowed them to establish a procedure and routine for when the two hundred and thirty showed up.
After the walk-through, I went to the court room to meet with the judge and the tribunal members to go over the procedures, rules and penalties they had written. Then I told them what I expected of them. The first trial would be tomorrow; I was going to sit in as an observer. The first two human traffickers were the test cases.
They had told the Doc all they knew. They were to hand off the two girls at an abandoned farm house as soon as they crossed the border. The damning evidence would be the girls’ statements of their kidnapping, rapes and the repeated rapes and beatings on the route and torture. Their statements had been videotaped and well as the abuse to their bodies. Then there were the statements of my men who captured the two.
The first busload from France had arrived – I watched as they were processed. A folder accompanied each of them with their photograph. Another one was taken for our files and a numbered Tyvek wrist band was put on their wrist.
Then they were led to a cell and the cuffs and leg irons removed. Once all the prisoners were in a cell they would be allowed to take a shower and change into JBG issued prison clothes.
Somewhere in that process a meal would be served. It was going to be a long night for the guards; that’s why there were extras working for the next couple of days.
Edit by Alfmeister
Proof read by Bob W.