Miguel pulled the stake-rack truck to a stop in front of a small, Mexican restaurant in Huntington Park, California. The truck had tarps securely lashed over the load. A Pittsburgh Pirates pennant flew from both front fenders.
The owners of the restaurant walked out just as he was leaving the cab. They told him to drive around the block and to park in the alley behind the restaurant.
By the time he had set the parking brake there were six young men ready to unload the truck. In a very short time all of the bags were inside the restaurant.
The owners asked Miguel to stay. Jose would join them in a short while.
Fifteen minutes later Jose and another man joined them. The other man was in his forties. He opened a bag an pulled out a handful of kernels. He spread them on the table. He selected three of them at random and chewed them.
Then he pulled another couple of handfuls out and spread them on the table.
“Senor Munoz, this stuff is ‘solid’” the man said.
Jose explained. “He is one of my chemists. He knows what he is looking at and was just confirming the quality.” Jose looked over at the man. “You can go, now.”
“How much corn did you bring?” Jose asked.
“Ten thousand pounds in one hundred pound bags, just like you specified.” Miguel said.
Jose pulled out a brief case and started counting out 100 Callor bills. He stopped at thirty and then pushed the pile over to Miguel.
“I am paying three times the official rate because that is the cheapest I can buy it on the gray market. I am not doing you or Chad any favors. I can sell every bag I get at that buying price.” Jose said.
Miguel was astonished. He expected to get half the official price, not three times the official price.
“How much can you deliver?” Jose asked.
Miguel said, “Everybody in Tulare and Fresno counties are in the same boat. We have a crop and the State told us to “dispose of it.” I don’t know how much it is, but it is a butt load.”
Jose nodded. His organization started tracking the situation shortly after Miguel first met with Jose.
“My logistics people have a plan. Everybody from Tulare county will deliver to Huntington Park. The man I send back with you will show you where. We can take three semi loads an hour without being obvious. Drivers will time delivery by last names. ‘A’ will deliver between midnight and one o’clock. ‘B’ will deliver between one and two and so on. Names that start with Q or X will deliver with R or W. Is that clear?”
Miguel nodded. He had already figured out that “Gonzales” had him unloading between six and seven in the morning and Kenny would be unloading about noon.
Jose continued. “Drivers will unhook their trailers and hook up to an empty for the return trip. We want to get you in-and-out as quick as possible.”
“We set up another location in Pacoima and will use it for the drivers from Fresno. The second man I am sending with you knows where the Fresno drivers must go. We will use the same scheduling by last name.” Jose finished.
“And tell the drivers, we pay cash on delivery. We know what these trailers weigh. We will weigh the load coming in. There will be no arguments. They bring in the load. We pay them on the spot. If they don’t like doing business like that, they can stay home.” Jose said.
“And don’t forget the flags.” Jose nodded to Miguel and then left the restaurant. Miguel had clearly been given his orders and dismissed.