Luis Aparicio and Barb Eppling sat in the squad car watching the minutes tick off the clock.
They were parked beside Highway 86 a couple of miles north of Kane Springs.
“This is stupid.” Luis said for the 12th time.
Barb ignored him. She knew it was his way of dealing with the stress of waiting. It was how he got his game-face on.
“Tell me again why we can’t just whack the next runner.” Luis demanded.
Barb sighed. This was not the first time they had this conversation. They had watched dozens of trucks that matched the IR profiles they were looking for stream north toward Cali and Oregon.
“If we whack every one of them they will figure out that we are on to them. They will either find other routes or stop putting the drugs in the tires.” Barb said. Then she added a bit more that she had picked up through the “old girl” network. “The guys at HQ want to get inside Cali’s heads. They know there are folks up there accepting bribes. They want us to follow this schedule because it is the best way to fuck up the most people up in Cali.”
The story on the “old girl” network was almost spot on.
People who design experiments take great pains to avoid accidental patterns that generate false-positives. There is also a discipline, a much smaller discipline, that looks for ways to maximize false-positives. An example of the second discipline are the people who design lottery games. They want buyers to believe that they are on the verge of breaking the code.
Aaron made a series of phone calls after fielding the call from Zev. He rated it as somewhere between 25% and 50% credible. One of the calls found its way to a mathematician at Cal Poly. He proposed a pattern of “stops” that would appear to “validate” the largest number of high level officials in Cali.
In explaining it to Aaron the professor asked Aaron to consider the difference between the numbers 23 and 24. Twenty-three is only divisible by the number 1 while twenty-four is divisible by 1, 2, 3, 4, 6, 8 and 12. Consequently, samples of twenty-four are much more likely to tickle connections than samples of twenty-three.
Aaron sort of understood it and was willing to use the plan proposed by the professor. Still, it was hard to convince street cops to let known smugglers skate
Another thing that pissed off Luis was that they didn't get to pull over the suspect truck. They radioed it into to a special dispatch number. The dispatcher then directed a regular patrolman to pull the truck over.
Sometimes the regular patrolman flopped around. He knew that was a truck he was supposed to let go.
When the dispatcher received push-back the dispatcher had a very succinct response. "We have a tip from a very highly placed source in Cali that this is a drug runner. Pull them over and call the K-9 or lose your job."
Word quickly got passed up the line that there was a rat in Cali.
After whacking three smugglers on exact 2 hour intervals, Sedelia issued a press release informing the public that several large drug shipments had been interdicted. No further details were given.
A period of two days elapsed during which no more shipments were interdicted.
Then another burst of three trucks-at-2 hour intervals was executed. Dispatch included the additional information that the Cali source was motivated by the perception that the Cartel bribes were insufficient.
The second burst of drug busts was followed up by a press release claiming ten (not six) shipments had been interdicted. When reporters asked if the source was in Cali the spokesperson said, "I am not at liberty to discuss details of ongoing operations." which was taken as a confirmation.
By dawn the next day more than fifty Cali government officials had been murdered. Most murders were small caliber pistol rounds to the back of the head. Several involved arson and the death of the official’s entire family. A handful had their throat slashed in broad public. Two were garroted.
The Cartel had been led to believe that they had been granted the exclusive monopoly for smuggling drugs from Mexico to Oregon. They knew they had lost six shipments. Hearing that ten shipments had been intercepted was taken as proof that Cali officials were two-timing them.
They were not pleased.