The True Bond of Loyalty
Thomas Calabrese …. Pete Caldarelli’s paternal grandfather Salvatore migrated from Palermo, Sicily to San Diego California in 1946 after the end of World War II. His father Joseph was born in 1950 and served in the Navy during the Vietnam War and after his discharge from the military, he became a stone mason and married Alana Delacruz a young Mexican woman in 1975 that he met while working on a job in Rosarita Beach, Mexico. Pete was the youngest of three children; his older brother Frank worked as a software engineer for Apple Computer in Silicon Valley and his sister, Catherine was married to a casino executive and lived in Las Vegas with her husband and two children.
After graduation from high school Pete joined the Marines and served one tour in Iraq and three in Afghanistan. He was assigned to First Recon Battalion and was a decorated combat veteran and after leaving the Corps, Pete moved to a small apartment in Oceanside, California and worked as a deckhand on a sports fishing boat docked at the Oceanside Harbor on weekends while attending Mira Costa junior college during the week.
During summer break, Pete called his uncle Alex Delacruz, a successful international businessman who resided in a palatial estate in Lake Chapala, Mexico, “I’m going to be doing some surfing in Mexico, thought I would come by and say hello when I’m in the area.”
Alex Delacruz responded, “You’re always welcome; just let me know the dates so that I’ll be in town.”
Pete commented as he gazed upon the lake from the large veranda, “I sure have a lot of good memories from coming down here with the family”
“How are things going with you?” Alex Delacruz asked.
“I’m alright, I’m just doing what thousands of other people my age are doing,” Pete replied.
“Which is?” Alex Delacruz inquired.
“Trying to find something that I like to do that I can also make a career out of.”
Alex hesitated, “Let me look around, maybe I can find something for you.”
“I’d appreciate that,” Pete replied.
“If I can’t help my family then who am I going to help?” Alex handed Pete three hundred dollars, “Now go into town and enjoy yourself.”
After Pete left, Alex picked up his cellphone and dialed a number, “It’s me, I’ve got a job for you, my nephew is visiting me, do a thorough background check and see what he’s been doing for the last year. I’ll send you what I have on him; don’t keep me waiting long.”
Alex Delacruz was an overly cautious man with an obsessive compulsive personality so right after he hung up; he went into his office and changed all the passwords on his computer and bank accounts.
Two days later, Alex Delacruz received an e-mail, No red flags.
Later that evening Pete was eating dinner with his uncle in the large dining room when his cellphone rang.
“Hello…. (listened)“I’ll be there as soon as I can.”
“Something wrong?” Alex asked.
“A guy I served with overseas needs my help.”
“Go help your friend and when you come back. I might have something for you.”
A month passed before Pete returned to his uncle’s estate. He pressed the button on the entry gate as a security camera focused on him and patiently waited for the large metal gate to swing open.
“I didn’t know if you were ever coming back,” Alex smiled as he waited by the front door.
“Things came up that I didn’t expect,” Pete replied.
“Life is like that,” Alex commented.
Without warning Pete said, “I was getting ready to work with the CIA in Afghanistan on a mission and they needed to upgrade my security clearance and they found out you are my uncle.”
“Why are you telling me that now instead of when you first got here?”
Pete ignored the question and continued, “They asked me what I knew about your involvement with kidnappings, murders, human and drug trafficking, arms dealing and other assorted felonies and crimes against humanity.”
“What did you tell them?” Alex’s voice was deadly serious.
“I told him that your business is your business and that I know nothing about it.”
“So the fact that you came down here to visit me and this conversation you had with the CIA are not connected?” Alex asked.
“The only reason I’m telling you now is to let you know how easy it would be to betray you,” Pete answered, “You’ve always treated me well, but you are still one of the bad guys.”
“Actually I am one of the really bad guys, which is why I’m still alive.”
“You know what I was doing this last month since I left?”
“Is there a reason I should care?” Alex demanded.
“I was going over all your business dealings and you have quite the extensive portfolio, both in legal and illegal assets,” Pete smiled, “I made copies of everything and put them in a safe place.”
“Impossible, you would have had to hack into my computer to find out anything about my businesses and I know that didn’t happen.”
“I got access to your data a different way,” Pete stated matter of factly.
“I would have known even if you had tried, I have state of the art firewalls installed in all my devices,” Alex replied confidently.
“I installed a mini surveillance camera in your desk lamp and every time you went on your computer it transmitted your keystrokes to my server. I have a special software program that deciphered your passwords so I accessed everything off my computer, not yours.”
“No damn way!” Alex retorted.
“If you don’t believe me then check your offshore bank accounts.”
Alex pulled out his cellphone, but it showed no service.
“Hold on a minute I blocked your cell phone reception just before I came in,” Pete pulled out his cellphone and unblocked the signal, “Now try.”
Alex accessed his numerous offshore bank accounts and each one showed a balance of zero, “So this was your plan all along…to rip me off?”
“I don’t want your damn money,” Pete answered and pressed several buttons on his phone and the money was immediately transferred back to his uncle’s accounts, “I’ll keep the incriminating evidence a while longer.”
“I’m confused and I don’t like that feeling. First you tell me that the CIA approached you, but you’re not working with them, then you take my money and give it back. What the hell is this all about, Pete?”
“I know you did a background check on me, didn’t you?”
“Why would you think that?” Alex responded.
“I bet your man didn’t find out that I was sent to a cyberterrorism and surveillance course so that when my recon team found terrorists’ computers I had the skills to access their Intel. While I was in the Marines I got pretty good at two things; killing terrorists and getting information off computers.”
“Once again, what is this all about?”
Pete smiled, “Leverage, I had to bring something to the table to get what I wanted from you.”
“I hope you know what you’re doing, nephew” Alex’s voice was ominous in tone.
“I hope so too,”
When Pete left his uncle’s estate he drove to Chabela Fonda a small restaurant near the plaza in Lake Chapala where three former Marines from his recon team were waiting for him.
“What did he say?” Steve Mallo asked nervously.
“I made him an offer that was in his best interest to accept, but make no mistake, my uncle is a ruthless man who doesn’t like being tricked or coerced into doing anything so if we get careless and he gets the upper hand, he’ll kill us without giving it a second thought. We need to be willing to accept that risk before we take this any further,” Pete warned.
“I feel bad that I’ve put you in this position, I never wanted you going against your family,” Tony responded.
“My uncle is related to me by birth and a twist of fate, but my allegiance to you guys is based on shared sacrifice and spilled blood. I hope that I don’t have to tell you which one is more important to me.”
This entire plan came about because Steve Mallo’s younger sister Cecilia was working as an aspiring model in Europe when she was kidnapped out of her hotel room while on a photo shoot in Varese, Italy. The Italian authorities were stonewalled at every turn by powerful and influential people throughout Europe so the Mallo family hired an investigative firm, but the only thing they were able to find out was that Cecilia was taken by a white slavery ring, but when one of their investigators was killed and they received threats of further violence, they dropped the case. When Steve told his former recon team about the family’s feelings of desperation and helplessness, Pete took it upon himself to find a way to use his uncle’s international criminal connections to rescue Cecilia Mallo.
The former Marines first stop was Bangkok, Thailand and from there they got a lead that took them to Rio de Janerio. They searched relentlessly for Cecilia Mallo and the body count of human traffickers continued to rise with every place they went. Alex Delagarza got them into some very secretive and depraved places and when they didn’t find Cecilia Mallo, they killed the human traffickers and freed the enslaved women and children.
Alex Delagarza called Pete into his office after their return from Dakar, Senegal, “You and your buddies are a bloodthirsty bunch, how many did you kill in Tunisia, fifteen? ”
“ The more I see of the human trafficking business and how many lives it has ruined,” Pete looked his uncle right in the eyes, “The more I want to kill everybody involved in it.”
“I assume that when you say everybody that you’re including me? I’ll remember that when this is all over,” Alex replied without emotion. “I got a lead on this woman you’re looking for…Cecilia Mallo,” then handed his nephew an envelope and a stern warning, “You need to get this over with because you and I have unfinished business.”
“We’re doing our best,” Pete snapped back as he opened the envelope, “Don’t you think my friend wants his sister back as quickly as possible?”
The four men landed in Istanbul, Turkey one week later and were met by two CIA operatives that Pete and his comrades knew from their tours in Afghanistan.
Agent Jeremy Regan explained matter of factly, “Abir Karga is a multi-millionaire corrupt Turkish businessman. He routinely buys young girls from human traffickers and when he tires of them, he either trades them off or just kills them outright. He has deep and powerful political connections and lives in a heavily guarded palatial estate. Those are the good things about this vile piece of scum.”
Agent Lee Stafford added, “He is also considered a friend to many of our own red, white and blue perverts in American politics. You are not going to get any help from the government…covert or official.”
“Are you going to help us?” Pete asked.
“Absolutely not, and that is what we expect you to say if anybody questions you about our involvement,” Agent Jeremy Regan grinned mischievously.
“Do you know anything about my sister?” Steve asked.
“She is still in there from our last report,” Agent Stafford answered, “but like my esteem colleague indicated, Karga doesn’t like to keep the girls around long. She could be gone at any moment.”
“What about the guards? Glenn Snyder asked.
“Eleven on duty at all times, highly qualified, but not elite, you should be able to handle them,” Agent Regan answered, “Once you got your plan locked in, just let us know what equipment you’ll need.”
“Thanks, I mean that…thanks a lot,” Steve said.
“It’s good for the soul to do the right thing every once in a while,” Agent Stafford replied.
“Every once in a while,” Pete repeated for emphasis.
Pete and his fellow Marines rented one van and one car under alias passports for their escape to the Greek border located 226 miles away.
“We have the work schedule of the employees, most of the night shift leaves by twenty three hundred hours and the day crew doesn’t arrive until zero five hundred hours the next morning,” Glenn Snyder commented as four men examined the blueprint of the mansion in their hotel room.
“If we stay on schedule, we should have five hours before anyone finds out what happened,” Steve said.
“Then we’ll enter at 2330 hours,” Pete added.
“I’m not up for killing innocents,” Marcus said.
“None of us are, we’ll minimize the collateral damage as much as possible,” Pete responded.
At twenty three fifteen hundred hours Pete and Steve climbed on top of the van and got into the prone position with their 300 Winchester Magnum sniper rifles and sighted in on the front gate which was six hundred yards away. Glenn and Marcus concealed twenty five yards to the east of Karga’s estate.
“Start walking,” Pete radioed.
Glenn and Marcus began walking toward the gate and when they were within five yards of the gate, the two guards stepped out of the guard house to stop them. Pete whispered to Steve, “On my count, three…two … one…fire.”
They fired simultaneously and the two guards went down and Glenn and Marcus caught them before they hit the ground and pulled the bodies out of sight. Steve and Pete met Glenn and Marcus at the front gate and clasped hands in a sign of unity then pulled their face masks down.
“Let’s do this and go home,” Steve said.
“One more mission,” Pete added.
The four men moved through the mansion with precision like efficiency and eliminated the armed guards then tied and gagged the remaining staff. Cecilia and three other women were located in a room with four single beds that was adjacent to the master suite of Karga. Cecilia Mallo couldn’t believe her eyes when her brother entered the room with the other men. She was just about ready to scream out in joy when Steve put her hand over her mouth, “We’re going home,” then embraced his sister like he never wanted to let her go.
Suddenly a light began flashing and the four men instinctively spun around with their weapons at the ready.
“What’s that?” Marcus asked as he looked at four different colored lightbulbs; green, red, yellow and blue; the red one was flashing.
Each one of us is assigned a light and when our light flashes, we go into his room,” Cecilia sobbed.
“I haven’t been assigned a light, but I’ll go anyway,” Steve coldly stated then entered Karga’s bedroom. A few seconds passed before six muffled shots were heard and Steve returned with his weapon smoking, “Karga wished us a safe trip and I thanked him for his hospitality. He wanted to get up, but I told him that he needed a long rest.”
The four former Marines and the rescued girls escaped across the border to Greece then flew back to America. Pete went to Mexico to see his uncle to take care of unfinished business.
“How is your friend’s sister doing?” Alex asked.
“She’s alive and home, how well she deals with the memories…only time will tell,” Pete answered then handed a flashdrive to his uncle, “Here’s your info…there are no other copies, just like I promised.”
“You finished what you set out to do. You are tough, strong, smart and a man of your word.”
“But you still have to kill me,” Pete said.
“Men like us must have the confidence to make the tough decisions when the time comes. That is our legacy, it justifies our very existence,” Alex explained, “I was always the one in charge. I had the power, the control and was the one giving the orders and not taking them. You took that away from me and it’s not something you can easily return like you did with this flashdrive. I must take it back by force.”
“I’m sorry you feel that way, but I expected no less,” Pete replied.
“Don’t worry, I’ll make up a believable explanation to tell the family on how you died,” Alex reassured his nephew.
“Thank you,” Pete responded then hesitated for several seconds before adding his own warning, “I’ll do the same for you.”
Pete’s injuries were painful, but they did not stop him from attending his Uncle Alex’s funeral.