INCITEMENT by David Graham @DavidANGraham #GoodReads #Thriller #JohnMurray

Posted on Saturday, April 26, 2014

Chapter 2

Early next morning, a tired Diane Mesi looked around Campas’s cramped hotel room. Pairs of bleary, sleep-deprived eyes belonging to the other team members stared back. Everyone had worked through the night, trying to reconstruct the attack. The meeting was so they could share findings and decide the next steps. Through local intelligence they’d known for months that the Madrigal-Zaragosa Alliance maintained a significant heroin refinery in the region but had never managed to locate it. 

When they’d received news of the explosion there had been no doubt of the target. Before they arrived there had been conjecture that some opportunist, drawn by the large quantities of drugs, had carried out the raid. But once on site, questions started to crop up. Campas had remarked to Mesi that they could be looking at something new. The way he had said it left no doubt that he considered anything “new” in their business to be distinctly unwelcome.

Once the last team members had filed in, Campas stood up. He was not a physically imposing man–small, with thinning hair and a hawkish nose–but everyone’s attention was immediately focused on him.

“Antonio, the perimeter guards?” the enquiry was directed at a tall man leaning against the wardrobe.

“Both killed by shots to the head,” said Antonio Guzman, a pathologist attached to the team. “We’re doing some further work on the shell fragments, but I’d say we’re dealing with subsonic rounds fired over distance. Cause of death would have been a complete shut-down of the nervous system, almost certainly instantaneous.”

“The nearest suitable cover to the compound is at least eighty meters, so we’re dealing with a reasonably skilled sniper,” somebody said.

“Snipers,” interjected Ruben, a SWAT officer newly assigned to Campas’s team.

“Why more than one?” asked Mesi. Although she was there as a courtesy, Campas had encouraged her to participate.

Ruben turned to a plan of the compound that had been stuck on the wall and indicated locations on opposite sides of the area. “Both guards were shot while they were the maximum distance apart. For one man to do this, he’d have had to kill the first guard, then move at least two to three hundred meters across the hill behind to get into position for the second shot. It doesn’t seem that the building guards raised the alarm or left their posts, which indicates the attackers using rifles equipped with suppressors, consistent with the subsonic rounds mentioned. To be confident of a headshot with a suppressor, an experienced shooter would have preferred to be within a certain minimum distance. 

Stealth appears to have been a main objective of the initial phase of the attack, so I’m assuming speed was also important. The time between the first and last exterior guard being killed would ideally have been as brief as possible.”

“Makes sense: the longer they took, the more chance of detection,” Campas said.

“Yes and why take the risk of one man moving at speed across the hill to take the second shot?” Ruben asked. “It’s not an easy thing to do: shoot, run over uneven terrain, and then quickly shoot again with confidence. Also, while he’s moving there’s a chance he’d attract attention.”

“I’ll go with that,” said Campas, nodding. “So, two snipers killing at a synchronized time?”

“Or at a signal, perhaps from a third party. Good shooting regardless: a head shot downhill from at least eighty meters with a suppressor.”

Mesi sensed some uneasiness creeping into the room.

“It strikes me detailed reconnaissance would’ve been required for this kind of attack,” Campas said, looking at the plan of the compound. “Familiarity with the workings of the guards could only have come from time spent observing the site, possibly over a number of days. Ruben, when we’re finished here start scouting the surrounding area to see if you can find any evidence of their presence. There’s a lot of ground to cover. Will you need me to draft in more manpower?”

“I’d prefer to limit the number, at least initially, to minimize the chance of destroying evidence. If we could spare two or three people, I can give them a quick run-through on how to proceed.”

“Okay. Oscar, Carlos, and …,” Campas turned to look at Mesi, smiling. “How about it Diane? Would you be willing to help Ruben with what’s likely to be pain-in-the-ass drudge work?”

“Absolutely,” she answered.

“Great, now what about the guards killed closer to the building?”

“One shot through the head at close range with a 9 mm,” Guzman resumed. “The other had his throat cut. The killer struck him with tremendous force just above the clavicle using a heavy blade. The blow went through the carotid artery and was so severe that the spinal cord between the C5 and C6 vertebrae at the rear of his neck was severed. No defence wounds or signs of struggle. Total surprise, I’d say.”

“Combined with what we know about the attacks on the exterior guards, anyone want to say out loud what I’m guessing we’re thinking?” Campas asked the room.

“Military training. I know the cartels have used mercenaries in the past, but I’ve never seen anything like this,” said one of the older team members.

“I’m sorry, this may be a stupid question,” Mesi said, “but what do we think was the motive? Robbery? How much heroin could they have taken with them?”

“We hear of soldiers carrying twenty to fifty kilo packs while force-marching over long distances,” Guzman offered. “Even with only three or four men, twenty kilos a man is a substantial haul. Most likely they had transport standing close by, ready for an all-clear once they’d executed the attack.”

“True, but if you have this capability in planning and firepower, is this the obvious place to strike? Once you have the heroin, you still have the risks associated with transporting it,” said Mesi.

“Maybe they only had intelligence about this location, or perhaps the fact that it is an unlikely target was why they picked it,” Guzman countered.

“Perhaps, but I have to admit that, like Diane, I have some misgivings,” Campas said. “The tactics and professionalism involved here are without precedent. There was only one notable thing about the refinery: the amount of heroin on site at any one time, both raw and refined. We’re guessing at least 2,000 kilos. To execute the attack and remove that much heroin would’ve taken time. It’s very risky. So we can probably assume some of the heroin may have been destroyed, and if that’s the case, then outlandish as it seems: why not all of it?”

It was clear to Diane that while some of the agents had considered this already, others hadn’t. From the disbelieving expressions on some faces, it was not difficult to distinguish the two.

“So,” Campas concluded. “We need to pursue both robbery and destruction as motives.”

“Sal, do you think we might be dealing with a state-sponsored action here?” one of the younger agents asked.

“You mean, has the U.S. initiated something along the lines of Plan Coca without telling us?”

Plan Coca was a recently launched, joint Colombian-U.S. initiative to bring the drug war to the doorstep of the main producers in Colombia. The strategy involved applying military resources, in the form of fumigation runs from the air and troop movements on the ground, to forcibly eject the growers from their territorial strongholds. Unsurprisingly, it had no shortage of opponents, including some of Colombia’s neighbors, who had complained that the Plan would push the struggle into their territories.

The agent glanced at Mesi momentarily before nodding.

“I very much doubt it. Plan Coca’s a highly politicized operation in a welcoming sovereign state. What do you think, Diane?” asked Campas.

“No, there’s absolutely no way military action in Mexico would ever be countenanced, not even a covert attack like this,” she said. “We’ve supported Colombia with military aid for years, so our involvement’s in the public domain. No one would even dream of risking the blowback of unsanctioned action in Mexico.”

“Until we know more, let’s hold off with further speculation on motive; we need to concentrate on the work we have in front of us.” Campas checked his notes. “I think we’ve covered everything; here’s how I suggest we proceed.”



A brutal conflict unleashed.
Who stands to win?

A bloody massacre at a Mexican heroin refinery; a Miami-bound freight ship hijacked for its cargo of illegal narcotics; the ruthless assassination of a Kosovar drug lord – a war has erupted between two drugs superpowers.

As DEA Agent Diane Mesi investigates she becomes convinced that the conflict is being orchestrated by an unknown third party. But she is marginalised by her colleagues and her judgement is challenged at every turn. Only if she can expose the truth will she be able to stop the violence and save her career.

Michael Larsen is an ex-soldier and hired mercenary who has been contracted to fuel the conflict at every opportunity until it destroys both sides. As he battles his own demons, he hopes that by directing the violence he will attain some measure of redemption.

But neither Mesi nor Larsen know the full extent of the forces at play or of what is truly at stake. As they each pursue their own resolution, the violence escalates and they become increasingly vulnerable to the dangers that stalk them.

Incitement won the John Murray Show / RTE Guide / Kazoo Competition from over 500 entries.

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Genre – Thriller
Rating – R
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