Consolidation and Revenge

It’s been a long time since my friend Michael Aragón was murdered.  The first few weeks were the worst.  I still feel the pain of it, but it’s better now.  I couldn’t save Michael from a life of crime.  And although I tried hard with his son Kenneth, I lost again.  For Kenneth, the final straw was the death of his father.  He felt he had to takeover to protect La Eme.

La Eme had been challenged by the Colombianos and Aragón’s death was still a fresh memory in their minds.  To all, it was a matter of Eme honor.  Money couldn’t make it go away.  Gestures of peace couldn’t remove the stain of dishonor on the Eme’s name.  All of the Eme families were mobilized for war.  Each of their vato locos knew what was at stake.  They wanted revenge and expected to see the Colombianos bleed and die.  It could only end in a war and there could only be one winner.  Kenny laid the plans for a takeover of all Colombian drug lord territories in the United States.  The Colombianos and their friends would have to die.  The word went out.  Anyone who was a friend of the Colombianos was an enemy of La Eme.  Everywhere in the Southwest, people began to disappear.  No bodies were found; people just vanished without a trace.  Anyone who was suspected of working with the Colombianos simply ceased to exist.

First, the Chicano families began to purge the barrios of Colombian drugs.  Anyone selling Colombiano cocaine was a target.  The word on the street was simple.  If you play with the Colombianos you die with the Colombianos.  There was nowhere to run and nowhere to hide.  The Blacks and Asians soon became targets.  Dealers began disappearing in large numbers.  In Watts, Black dealers began to go missing.  The silent deadly hand of La Eme was everywhere.  As the losses mounted, so did the fear.  Within a few months, Colombiano cocaine wasn’t being sold.  Soon, even the word Colombiano stopped being used for fear that someone might overhear.

The Blacks were first to make overtures to La Eme, then the Asians.  Suddenly, the streets were dry.  Business was being hurt.  The streets were crying out for drugs.  Desperate for product, they came to La Eme for help.  Wanting an end to the problem, they wanted business to return to normal.  If this meant no Colombiano drugs, so be it.  The Anglos were the last to fall into line.  But finally, they too came to the Eme.

The Méjicanos below the border were ready to increase business.  They were aware that La Eme had been challenged by the crazy Colombianos.  Aragon’s death was still fresh in everyone’s mind.  Kenny wouldn’t let anyone forget.  The Méjicanos understood that the Colombianos had already lost.  The Gallardos were more than willing to fill the void left by the retreating Colombianos.  Shipments grew by leaps and bounds.  The Méjicanos were working overtime to ensure that coke was available to all friends of La Eme.  Their dreams and hard work paid off.  The Chicanos had moved against the Colombianos in a big way.  Clearing a path for the Méjicanos, the Gallardos were back in the saddle and riding high.

By March of 1990, Kenny was ready to attack his enemy on their own ground.  He had ordered intelligence to be gathered on the Colombianos in Chicago two months prior to the assassinations.  Kenny’s soldados made contact with moles that had been placed inside the Colombian organization by Michael Aragón years earlier.  The moles provided names and addresses to La Eme soldiers.  Details on travel and dining habits were given.  Information about the places that each Colombiano was likely to visit was given.  When ready, La Eme struck hard at the Colombianos in Chicago.  This was Kenny’s first and most important Colombian target in the United States.  While not the Cartel’s capitol in America, Chicago was to be the signal that the larger war had started.  Miami would have to wait.  Twenty-three Colombianos from the Márquez family were killed within one week.  Kenneth was to become a great general.

Several, eight man assassination squads were sent in early.  Each Colombian was assigned a number.  Each number was assigned two Eme soldiers.  The night of March 25th was chosen as the date for execution of the operation.  Weapons were taken by van to Chicago.  At exactly 9:00 PM eastern standard time, the simultaneous assaults took place.  Each squad leader was in touch with his men by cell phone.  The operation was carried out with military precision.  The Eme soldiers were all ex-military.  When it was over, the Colombian Cartel in Chicago was broken.  As of that hour, their organization ceased to exist.

Immediately after the operation’s execution, the Eme soldiers melted into the landscape.  Within minutes of the assassinations, they were on buses, planes and trains quietly leaving town.  Weapons were buried in deep waters.  The hits were clean.  There were no traces, no loose ends.  Everything from start to finish was carried out perfectly.

Chicago became a city on fire.  The newspapers were full of the killings in the early morning editions.  Colombianos were dead in every part of the city.  The police were taken by surprise.  There had been no leaks.  The usual suspects had nothing to offer.  Paid police informers had little, only rumors.  Chicago’s finest hit a brick wall.  All they had were Colombian bodies coming out of their ears.  They had no shooters in custody and no murder weapons.

Five minutes after the operation had taken place, Kenny heard the news.  He received a coded message at his villa in Santa Bárbara from Jimmy León.  Kenneth went to bed that morning knowing that the pain for the Colombianos had only just begun.  He wanted them to suffer.  Kenneth planned for the killers of his father to bleed first, suffer long, and then die hard ugly deaths.  Understanding that they would retaliate, Kenneth prepared the families for just such an outcome.  The barrios were locked up tight as a drum.  La Eme knew everyone coming in and out.  Local barrio gangs had people out on the streets at all hours of the day and night.  Anytime a strange car came into the barrio it was followed.  La Eme had the advantage.  Few people ventured into the barrio.

Two days later, the Colombianos came calling at Kenneth’s neighborhood in East Los Ángeles.  Within minutes, La Eme knew they were there.  The car held four Colombian pistoleros.  They tried to blend in, driving an older Chevy.  Everyone in the barrio knew that the Colombianos would be heavily armed.  When the time was right, the vatos from Eme came.  They had enough firepower to sink a battleship.  It was over in a matter of seconds.  The Colombianos were hit near a dead end street before they could use their weapons.  A young gang member of barely twelve rode up to them on his bicycle.  Pulling the weapon out of a box fixed to his handlebars, the young boy sprayed the four men inside the car with automatic weapons fire.  It was quick and clean.  Thinking he was just a neighborhood kid out riding his bike, they had never suspected the boy.  Who would have thought that death would be delivered by such a young messenger?  A boy, not a man, had delivered the message.  La Eme was alive and well.

The Colombianos had also sent a second hit squad.  Kenneth had Rolando and nine of his vatos at the villa to protect Rita and little baby Anna.  He’d selected his old friend because Rolando was the best mechanic La Eme had.  Smart and cautious, Rolando would be ready for anything.  Dispatched to Santa Bárbara, the shooters made their way cautiously to Kenneth’s villa.  Just after midnight, the four Colombian pistoleros with silencers descended on the estate.  Dressed in black from head to toe, the hooded Colombianos were prepared for a night operation.  With night goggles and silencers, the pistoleros scaled the high walls surrounding the estate using nylon rope and climbing gear.  Once on the grounds, they made their way toward the main house.  As the guard dogs began barking, they were met by Eme soldiers with silencers.

The Colombianos were professionals.  Infrared night goggles gave them the edge.  Fighting valiantly, they killed six Eme soldiers.  But within three minutes, the four Colombian pistoleros were dead.  Rita never knew what had happened.  The bodies were placed in a van and taken out to the desert for burial.  The wounded vatos were taken to an Eme doctor in fashionable Montecito.  The dead Eme soldiers were buried close to the Colombian assassins.  Kenny was called within two minutes of the operation.  He went to sleep that night knowing that his family was safe.

The next morning, Kenny received his usual call from Rita while she was finishing up her first cup of coffee.  They chatted about the baby’s cold.  Kenny and Rita talked about her coming down to the East Side to spend the weekend.  When Rita insisted on going to the pharmacy, Kenny told her he loved her and made her promise to take one of the vatos.  She agreed.  Rita left little Anna in the bassinet, instructing Rolando to watch the baby in the bedroom.  It was early when Rita left the villa to get the Benz from the garage.  Walking toward the garage, she instructed the bodyguard to wait for her in front entrance of the villa.  She wanted to drive.

A week earlier, she told me she was happy for the first time in her life.  Rita’s name was now Mrs. Kenneth Aragón and her husband was the man of her dreams.  Anna was an adorable daughter, the joy of her life.  And Rita had just completed her third novel, Sweet Dreams, My Lady.  Her first two books were being made into movies.  The world was hers.  As she turned the key in the ignition of her favorite Benz, Rita would have no more thoughts.  Kenny’s men had failed to check for sabotage.  The Colombianos were practiced assassins.  They had planned their attack well.

It was Rolando who called Kenny about the explosion.  He’d been with baby Anna when he heard the loud noise.  Rolando knew instantly that Rita was gone.  Doing what had to be done; he went into the garage and verified that she was dead before placing the call to Kenny.

A bit more of Kenneth died that day.  After hearing the words, in a low steady voice, he thanked Rolando for the call.  Kenneth then instructed Rolando and two other vatos to drive baby Anna to a safe house in downtown Santa Bárbara.  After hanging up the telephone, his next call was to Feinstein, his attorney.  Speaking for five minutes, Kenneth turned the crisis over to him.  His attorney would handle the local law enforcement.  Hanging up, he then informed his vatos about the death of his wife and walked to my parish.

It was just after ten o’clock in the morning when he arrived at the rectory door.  With glassy eyes and a faraway look, Kenneth was a shattered man.  His spirit was broken.  Michael’s father was dead and his mother was thousands of miles away.  His sister and brother were out of state.  Only I was here.  Leading him into my study, I closed the door.  Sitting on the large couch, we said nothing for several minutes.  Then as his hands shook and facial muscles twitched, he told me of his pain.  Trying in vain, he fought back the emotions of that deep pain and sorrow.  When he gave me the news, my heart ached for him.  Kenneth had loved Rita all his life.  Finally, his facade crumbled.  All at once, my little Kenneth cried hard, collapsing against me.  I held him in my arms there on my study couch.  The little school yard Kenneth and his parish priest prayed together to God that bleak morning.

Falling asleep on my couch, Kenneth slept well into the night.  He wanted to feel safe again.  The old rectory held good memories.  It was here he had always come when feeling under siege.  This was always his safe haven.  He awoke after midnight.  I had stayed with him in the study reading my scriptures as he slept.  I wanted to be there for him when he awoke.  Kenneth stirred quietly until he realized that he was in my study.  Then the ugliness of it returned to his mind.  His Rita was dead.  I asked if he wanted a brandy, he nodded, yes.  I poured us both a large one and gave him his.  We spoke little for the first few minutes.  I waited till he drank it all down.  We spoke of Heaven and Hell.  I explained that Rita was now with Aragón in heaven.  This seemed to give him some comfort.  Then he asked me to hear his confession.  We walked over to the church and entered the confessional.  He gave his sins to God and left.

Kenneth returned home to his father’s house in East Los Ángeles, which was now his own.  It was three in the morning when he called his Uncle César in Madrid.  Giving them the news, his Uncle’s wife, the Countessa was heart broken.  She and Rita had become close over the past two years.  César was also shaken by the death of Rita.  The Romeros agreed to take little Anna for the time being.  After hanging up with César, Kenneth made the necessary travel arrangements to have little Anna sent to the safety of Madrid.  Rolando received a telephone call at the safe house to arrange to have the baby taken to LAX.  Little María, Kenneth’s mother’s friend, was called.  María would take little Anna to Madrid.  Two Eme soldiers were sent as protection.  The baby and María arrived at LAX by seven in the morning.  She and the others were safely on the way to Madrid by nine that morning.

With Rita gone and little Anna in safe hands, Kenneth gave his full attention to eradication of the Colombianos.  He spent his every waking hour planning the destruction of the people responsible for the deaths of those closest to him.  La Eme was now his sole purpose for being.  Kenneth’s only thoughts were of revenge and making La Eme a world empire.

Three months later, it was Boston.  The Gómez Family thought that they were prepared.  They had taken precautions, paying the Italians as hired help.  The Italians promised to protect their Colombian friends.  Unfortunately for the Colombianos, La Cosa Nostra never forgot the disrespect the Colombianos had shown them.  Taking Colombian money had been easy; selling them out to the Méjicanos was even easier.  Weeks before, Kenneth had made contact with his father’s Italian friends of many years.  They were businessmen and understood the value of true friendship.  To Don Romano, Kenny’s father was more than a Mexican.  To him, Michael Aragón was an honorable man, a true friend of many years.  Even when their business venture had ended, they remained respected friends.  Don Romano never forgot their early days together.

La Eme and La Cosa Nostra had reached an understanding.  In exchange for the Italians leaving their posts at the right time, La Eme would give them a clean ten percent of the Colombian profits for five years.  After all, it wasn’t personal, it was only business.  But Kenneth added to the bargain the purchase of several policemen and judges.  Kenny wanted insurance.  He was now at the business of building an empire.

It was a hot, muggy, Saturday night in June when Eme took its revenge.  Eighteen Colombianos died that night in Boston.  The soldiers had once again done their job well.  La Eme’s Italian friends had provided inside information on each of the Colombianos.  Kenny’s people knew when and where to find each of the targets.  Unfortunately for the Colombianos, they’d chosen to attend a birthday party at a downtown nightclub.  The stylish Latino club was located in the basement of a turn of the century, brick building.  An old elevator and narrow staircase were the only two ways in and out of the nightclub.  The only elevator developed trouble soon after the last Colombian arrived.  The polished parquet dance floor was large with small round tables ringing it.  There were a few step-up private, red leather booths.  These sat on a platform above the dance floor and its surrounding ring of tables.

By eight o’clock, the place was full.  Many of the local Latinos hung out at the club.  The salsa music was blaring when the Eme soldiers positioned themselves.  Eight shooters remained outside the club.  They secured the parking lot, front and rear building entrances and street approaches.  Three Eme shooters held the elevator.  Five more controlled the stairwell from the club below to the floor above.  Eight Eme shooters had positioned themselves along the walls of the dance floor.  The plan was to drive the Colombianos sitting at the small round tables into the stairwell and finished them there.  Each man knew his target.  The squad leader gave the signal by lighting a cigarette.  Once lit, the soldados waited exactly five seconds for the Italian bodyguards to move away from the targets.  Then they opened up with Uzis, spraying the Colombianos.  The patrons immediately fell to the floor for cover.  The Colombianos tried to defend themselves with handguns.  Five Colombianos fell during the first few seconds.  Several made their way to the stairwell.  When the door opened three Eme soldiers sprayed the men running through with machine gun fire.  The Colombianos remaining on the dance floor tried to run for cover toward the elevator.  They died there trying to get the elevator doors open.  None escaped.  It was over in mere moments.  A second Colombian stronghold was neutralized.  Sixteen Colombianos died in the club and two in the parking lot.  Kenny got a call exactly five minutes after the operation.

It was September, 1990.  In New York and New Jersey the Colombianos had made no friends.  The Puerto Ricans had always played the game well.  They’d never overstepped their bounds.  But the Colombianos were a different matter.  They had treated the Puertorriqueños harshly when they moved into New York and New Jersey, and the Puertorriqueños had long memories.  When the Eme first approached the Puertorriqueños with the business deal, they were cautious.  They had no stomach for war, wanting only to live in peace.  But Kenneth’s proposition was too good to pass up.  They would join the Brotherhood with full membership rights and be allowed to run their own barrios without interference.  For them, this was a dream come true.  The Puertorriqueños would now be respected players.  Emissaries from La Eme delivered the proposition, no strings attached.  An agreement was reached, and the Puertorriqueños wouldn’t interfere.  They had only to provide information about their Colombian masters, where they went, who they dined with.  The Ricans informed the Eme about when and how the Colombianos traveled.  It was an easy deal.

The Eme soldiers were treated well by their Puerto Rican cousins, receiving full cooperation.  By the first week of September, the plans were developed.  Every member of the Colombian Martín Family was targeted.  The restaurant used by the Colombianos for business was watched twenty-four hours a day.  It was here that the Martín’s conducted most of their business.  On the third Saturday of the month, La Eme struck.  It was eight o’clock at night when Kenny’s soldados hit the restaurant.  The Colombianos were drunk by then.  The Martín Family members were at a large table.  Loud and boisterous. over a dozen sat eating and drinking.  Their pistoleros were scattered at other tables.  These proud Colombianos had grown soft and lazy after so many years as overlords of the Puertorriqueños.

Two teams of Eme soldiers dressed as bag ladies moved into position with their shopping carts full.  At the planned moment, they stopped directly in front of the Colombian guards at the entrances.  At both entrances, the Eme soldiers used silencers to take out the six Colombian pistoleros standing guard.  It was child’s play for the Eme soldiers, assassinating them efficiently.  The Colombianos died quickly and quietly, never knowing what hit them.  Before entering, eighteen Eme soldados waited for the team leader’s signal.  Using flashlights, soldiers positioned on two rooftops overlooking the entrances signaled the all-clear sign.  The Eme soldiers moved swiftly through the front door and the rear entrance of the kitchen, quickly making their way into the building.  Firing their automatic weapons as they rushed the Colombianos inside, several drunken pistoleros died trying to return fire.

Kenny’s soldiers were too well-trained and too fast.  Within the first few seconds, the guards fell and the other patrons began to scramble for cover.  The Martín Family overturned their large table and began returning fire from behind it.  It was too little too late.  The Teflon coated rounds from the Eme automatic weapons tore through the soft wooden table, killing everyone in their path.  When the shooting stopped after fifteen seconds, the Colombianos were no more.  The entire Martín Family ceased to exist that evening.  Pedro Martín and all his sons were dead.  The Eme soldiers and operatives left New York and New Jersey that night.  The word was out; Colombian families were dead and dying everywhere.

By January of 1991, Miami was the last Colombian stronghold in the U.S.  This was where they had begun their movement into the United States, and this was where their empire would end.  In the beginning, the Cubans had tried to buy the Colombianos.  When that failed, they tried to negotiate.  The Cubanos were businessmen looking to broker agreements, contracts, and make deals.  But every gesture had failed.  The Colombianos smelled cowardice.  In the end, the Cubanos were treated as humiliated slaves.

The Cubanos hated their Colombian masters and were sickened by their excesses and cruelty.  They killed prostitutes for pleasure.  First, the women were publicly raped, then beaten.  Later, the women were tortured.  They enjoyed watching others suffer.  Cuban sensibility had grown tired of Colombiano brutality.  They wanted an end to the barbaric insanity.  Knowing they could do business with them, the Cubanos welcomed the Chicanos even though they considered them inferior.

Kenny understood that the Cubanos had suffered much under the Colombianos.  Uncle César had reported to him that they would be more than happy to help.  They hated the bloodthirsty animals.  His uncle had ensured their cooperation through generous gifts.  César’s friends had proved invaluable.  Their information was extensive.  In the beginning weeks of the campaign, fourteen Colombian pistoleros died.  The days were now short and dark.  Eme’s shadow was long and fell on everyone and everything in Miami.  Its soldiers moved along the outside parameter of the Pérez Family Empire.  At first, La Eme killed the weakest.  They killed anyone who was stupid enough to be found alone and unprotected.  Next, came the car bombs.  The Colombianos began to feel the pressure.  The streets were full of death and red Colombian blood ran everywhere.  Soon, they were no more.

Kenny won his war with the Colombianos in the United States.  The last Colombian gangster family was history; no one was left.  The name Mario Pérez was never heard again.  All of the Pérez’ were dead except for the oldest son, Arturo.  Tall and blonde, Arturo was as weak as his father.  The two daughters had also been killed.  Even the youngest boy of fourteen was dead, unlucky enough to have ridden in a limo with his father when a bomb exploded.  The mother and the boy died as innocent bystanders.

Two days after the Pérez Family was eradicated, Kenny’s Uncle César and his friends came to Santa Bárbara to recommend a Cuban family, the Carrillo’s.  A meeting of the Brotherhood, which now included other Latino families, convened.  Two other groups were in attendance.  A group from Spain and a second from Argentina were welcomed.  The Spaniards brought with them word from Sicily, and the Argentines brought with them a letter from Costa Rican banks.  The Eme and the Brotherhood were now only two of the many Latino powers which made up La Eme.  The vote was taken.  All members of the Eme, including the Spaniards and Argentines, blessed the Carrillo’s and gave them power.

Kenny had met Mario Carrillo and liked him.  Mario was a man of honor, respected by his family and friends.  Much like Kenny’s father, he looked out for those who needed him.  Carrillo understood the use of power.  Knowing what the word friend meant, he understood that no man could stand without them.  To him, selling drugs was a business.  As a businessman, Mario understood that he must negotiate and share the wealth.  But more than that, being a blood relative of Uncle César made him family.

Kenny made another decision.  He would not to stop until every Colombian drug dealer in the world was dead.  He wanted the drug lords to pay with their lives.  They would pay for his father’s death and for taking Rita from him.  Wanting them to suffer, he would kill them slowly.  He wanted them to feel the loss that he felt.  As far as Kenny was concerned, there would never be enough Colombianos dead.  In a short while, he would take his war to Colombia.  Their children were to die.  They would bury their wives and fathers as he did his.  But this part of the war would have to wait.

05/30/2016 10:39 AM