Recently it’s felt like we’ve been on everyone’s hit parade – both the military and low-level cartel thugs had heard about the two Yankees making a mess of their jungle, and higher-ups we encountered already seemed to know the callsigns “Nomad” and “Gazelle.” In this industry, fame is a real bad friend to have, but we had been in-country for an entire month, dealing serious blows to the power structure. It makes sense we’d be known by those we were taking down.
Most of the lieutenants or overseers of the cartel’s major operations had been killed or handed off to our betters, and the remaining were all in hiding or having abandoned Bolivia altogether. Gaz and I figured our time in South America was nearly up, once we had the location of their big boss, the cartel leader who fancied himself shadow-Emperor of the entire country. She and I aren’t what one might call “sensitive information analysts” – we find intel, pass it up the chain, and hear back if any of it changes our orders.
This time the rebels actually seemed to come through for us, surprising since they had been all but useless since our arrival. Don’t get me wrong, patriotism and inciting a rebellion are all well and good, but how much pride can you really take in something that you sit back and let two foreigners handle for you? I’m not judging, just asking the question. This sure isn’t my country or my fight, at the end of it all.
They gave us a tip-off that the big man was meeting with his remaining confidants in the most remote location he could find. I kid you not, when we fed the coordinates they gave us into the computer we got back a grainy satellite image of an RV parked on the side of a clear-cut mountain. No trees for a mile in any direction, no roads that could support heavy transport, and nowhere for helicopters to land, I could appreciate the low-tech ingenuity that went into the choice. Who would expect someone running a multi-billion-dollar (at very minimum) drug operation to be camping out in a rust-stained Winnebago on the side of a rock?
Gaz and I immediately went to work planning an insertion. Air was our only choice, but SAM sites would blow any plane out of the sky long before it reached the target, and both of us would need to be on the ground which meant I couldn’t fly a helicopter in. Before someone complains about “lack of resources,” let me remind you that we were the resources Uncle Sam gifted to the rebels. Other than a few safe places to hole up, some convenient ammo supplies, and the occasional reprimanding lecture, we didn’t get much from headquarters.
I can’t say that a distaste for the rebels and their leadership’s constant whining about how we were performing our duties didn’t factor into our decision, but I will absolutely admit it made the plan a fun one. We’d fly a helo in, all right, skimming across the salt flats and rolling hills to avoid the missile installations, lifting up just high enough that both Gaz and I could parachute away. We’d let the rebel-supplied chopper fall into the mountainside, causing a nice diversion, while we landed and took the RV from the rear.
Everyone wins, right? I mean, except for the loss of another rebel helicopter, but if our plan could finally put the cartel on its knees, I don’t think they’d have much room to complain about our methodology.
Gaz and I started to pack for what we hoped would be our last outing of this long mission.