Still on a roll, Mammonites, and no end in sight. What, you thought a regular blog post meant a day with no MAMMON? Comments? Let me have ’em. Got a friend who’d like to read along? Send ’em the link. Need to catch up from the beginning? Get PDFs of all thirteen chapters right here. And hey, thanks for reading.
“Is Hernandez on the ground?” Agent Jeanette Wilson asking from the back of the room at the emergency DEA briefing at the Chicago field office.
“Don’t know yet,” said Brad Marks, DEA office head. “Still sorting through what’s coming in from the CI’s. We do know this – he’s got his whole organization on war footing, and it’s all about finding this Griffin. You guys want to fill us in there?”
Lynch and Bernstein were seated up front. Lynch took the podium.
“We got a hit on a set of fingerprints at a murder down in Area 2 – South Shore thing with the Corsco soldiers – you’ve all heard about that. Anyway, the fingerprints match those of a Michael Xavier Griffin in the DoD database.” Lynch hit the button to advance the slide show on the screen, split screen shot with Griffin’s official Marine photo on one side and screen grab from one of the city cam shots on Columbus on the other. “Griffin was in the Marines from ’86 to 94, his last six years as a scout/sniper in force recon, so he does qualify as a genuine bad ass. You guys already know the story on Hernandez’s kid brother. This Griffin was home on leave, he and another guy . . .” Lynch turned to Bernstein.
“Estaban Sandavol,” said Bernstein.
“Sandavol, right,” Lynch said. “They got in a beef with Tiny Hernandez, thing ended up with Tiny and two of his goons DOA –and it was Griffin that killed all three of them.” He hit the advance button again, Sandavol’s Driver’s License picture from ’93, and then a crime scene shot from the basement of the crack house on the west side where they’d found his body in March of ’95. “This is what Hernandez did to Sandoval.” Lynch saw the agent in the back, the woman who had asked about Hernandez, turn away for just a beat.
“Here’s what else we know,” Lynch continued. “Griffin has been living for at least ten years as Nick Hardin. French National. Been in West Africa pretty much that whole time, some kind of goffer for TV news guys. Between ’94 and the TV gig, we got nothing. Rumor is maybe the Foreign Legion. Would explain having a clean French ID.”
“He the dude from Oprah the other day?” an agent asked. “The one who got in that dust up with that Fenn guy?”
Lynch nodded. Some general laughter about that. Lynch continued. “Anyway, evidence indicates he was here to see Abraham Stein – possibly to try to sell some diamonds, but we don’t have everything on that yet. Stein was murdered – we don’t think it was Hardin, Griffin, whatever. . . “
Marks butted in. “Let’s just say Hardin, keep the confusion down.”
Lynch nodded. “So, Hardin. We don’t know what he wanted with Stein, don’t know what’s behind the business with Corsco yet, either. But evidence indicates that whoever shot Stein also killed Beans Garbanzo down at the South Shore site after Hardin had left the scene. We’re pretty sure we have a second party involved here, a shooter with an agenda around Hardin. All we got so far. You guys have any tie in on the narcotics side might clear any of this up?”
Marks blew out a breath. “Hernandez and Corsco, they gotta play ball to some degree. Could be Corsco made a run at this Hardin for Hernandez and blew it. Don’t know what to tell you about the other guy. Anybody got ideas?”
Some general mummers, but nobody ready to put their hands up.
“OK,” said Marks. “Work your networks. We got no warrants on Hernandez, but we know how this guy works. If this is about his brother, then he’s gonna want to be hands on, so it’s a real chance to take him down hard. I’ll be coordinating with Chicago PD on this, so I want what you got when you got it. We’re putting a BOLO out for this Hardin guy, we get him in the bag, get him to play ball, we got a real leg up. Let’s hit it.”
Hardin walked into his room at the Motel 6, saw the woman sitting in the desk chair, chair turned toward the door. Dark hair cut short, gray slacks, white blouse, blue blazer, black S&W. 40. Not pointed at him, not exactly. It took a second.
“Hello, Juanita,” Hardin said.
She smiled. “Hello, Mike. Or should I say Nick? Actually, I like Nick. Suits you. Mike always seemed a little pedestrian. And I’m Jeanette, by the way.” She picked a leather badge case from her blazer pocket and tossed it to him. Hardin flipped it open.
“Agent Wilson. Nice to meet you.”
“We’ll see, Nick. We’ll see.”