Jeff Trask Crime Drama Series, Books 1-3
Federal prosecutor Jeff Trask and a team of FBI agents and local police officers tackle three international criminal organizations threatening the nation's capital city:
A Jamaican drug-trafficking cabal led by a psychopathic serial killer;
The vicious MS-13 street gang, known for murder, rape, and a total lack of mercy to its own members and recruits; and
The Los Zetas Cartel, the most ruthless of the Mexican drug cartels, dealing torture and death throughout eastern Mexico and into the United States.
Marc Rainer applies three decades of experience as a federal prosecutor in combining the excitement of high-stakes thrillers with pinpoint accuracy and realism, using actual events and trial experiences. His books have earned him a widespread audience in the fields of law enforcement and trial litigation.
Release date: May 28, 2020
Print pages: 1004
Content advisory: Adult language, violence
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Behind the book
This box set includes the first three books in the Jeff Trask Crime Drama Series:
Capital Kill (Book One)
Horns of the Devil (Book Two)
Death's White Horses (Book Three)
FREE to read with Kindle Unlimited
Jeff Trask Crime Drama Series, Books 1-3
Capital Kill(Book One)
It was just before 7:00 p.m. in Anacostia, and James P. "Junebug" Wilson's crack pipe was empty. Wilson was pushing forty, but he looked sixty. His weathered black face was encased in a dirty beard, his eyes dull and desperate. Wilson's four-year love affair with cocaine base—"crack" on the street—had made him smaller, dropping his weight from 165 to under 130. He was no longer employable and spent his days searching for something to steal—a car radio here, an unguarded bicycle there—anything he could fence for money to support his habit. His wife and daughter had left him two years ago, and he had been evicted from his apartment after the rent money burned up in his pipe. Now he moved from one condemned building to another, sleeping wherever he could find a roof that required no payment. He'd spent the last few days in an unoccupied apartment in one of the projects off Wheeler Road and kept quiet enough that none of the neighbors ratted him out to the management.
Wilson looked at the singed glass tube he had been puffing on for thirty minutes, trying to will the small beige rock back into existence. The piece of Chore-Boy scrubbing pad he had crammed into one end to hold the crack in place now held only flecks of charred residue. Wilson forced himself up from the floor, leaning against the wall he had been using as a chair back. He reached into his pants pocket and pulled out a dirty, crumpled twenty, his reward for a welfare check he'd been able to pry out of one of the mailboxes inside the building door. His fence was good at identification fraud and would have sufficient documentation to cash the check by the next morning. It was only when his stomach screamed in pain or he felt dizzy and weak that Junebug diverted some portion of his crack fund to the purchase of food. The two doughnuts he'd had the night before were sufficient, so he set off once again to find his only remaining priority.
After their shift meeting, detectives Dixon Carter and Juan Ramirez of the Seventh District, Metropolitan Police Department left the 7D station at 2455 Alabama, SE, driving un unmarked unit that was astonishingly functional. Over two hundred cars were awaiting repairs at the departmental garage at Montana and West Virginia Avenues, NE, and the cops knew the brass in any district simply by the vehicles they drove. Thanks to budget shortfalls and other priorities, patrol units and unmarked vehicles alike sat at the garage for months, while marked units that were still operable roamed city streets with crumpled fenders and broken lights. Watch commanders knew that turning a working car in for repairs meant losing the unit without hope of a replacement, so they kept driving the eyesores. Patrol officers even did their own minor repairs, maintenance, or part switch-outs when they could find replacements for eight and ten-year-old Crown Victorias at a junkyard or parts store.
Carter, an eighteen-year veteran of the force, had worked narcotics for the majority of the ten years he'd carried a detective's shield. His fellow officers called him either Dix or DC. He preferred the latter nickname, taking real pride in the city of his birth. He wore a well-tailored blue suit over his ample, six-foot-three, 230-pound frame.
His partner, by contrast, was about five-foot-six and dressed in a worn leather jacket and jeans. Ramirez wore a bushy mustache and a hairstyle that would pass for a "mullet" were it an inch longer in the back. He had fifteen years on the force, and had been Carter's partner for the last eight. Due to their complete dissimilarity in appearance, dress, demeanor, and temperament, they were referred to in the District's law enforcement circles as The Twins.
Ramirez turned the green Buick onto Wheeler from Alabama, and flowed with traffic. It was a rare night, schedule-wise, since The Twins had just wrapped up testimony in federal district court on a heroin conspiracy trial. Now they were back on the street, looking to identify their next target. There was never a shortage of dope work in 7D; it was just a matter of sorting out the major targets from the run-of-the-mill crack monsters and penny-ante pushers who served up dime bags of weed.
Carter watched the right sidewalk while Ramirez drove, noting a young tough who was speaking to an older man as the car passed. The youth gave them the traditional "gangsta glower," letting them know that he'd made them as police, then pulled up the hood on his sweatshirt with his left hand. Carter recognized the slight figure walking rapidly away from the kid.
"Looks like Junebug's in search of some smoking matter," Carter said, being careful not to look directly at Wilson as they passed him. The Twins had used the addict as a paid informant in the past, but speaking to him on the street would mark him as a snitch.
"We can pick him up later on a back block when it's not so crowded," Ramirez said. "Looks like he's headed for a hookup, though—might be really buzzed next time we see him."
"A risk that we will have to take, given the gentleman's proclivities," Carter said, well aware that his major in English at the University of Maryland was a subject of irritation to his partner.
"Proclivities." Ramirez snorted. "Dude's got to smoke five times a day now just to keep from goin' batshit. Any info we get from him might not even be worth a damn."
"As in the past," Carter replied, "Mr. Wilson might still be counted on to give up one of his suppliers in return for a small amount of police currency. He might then take the money to yet another provider of controlled substances, an individual about whom we could inquire at a later date. A method that continues to ensure job security for public servants such as ourselves."
"Your fat, black, bald head is stuffed about as full as that suit tonight."
"Information is ammunition." Carter chuckled, turning to check his side mirror. Wilson had not made them, and had taken a right turn up the sidewalk toward the Miller Gardens project complex. "Take the next right and come back around, please."
As Carter and Ramirez drove by, the teen in the hoodie pulled his right hand out of the shirt's kangaroo pocket and brought it up to his face, being careful not to reveal its contents to the unmarked unit. Ronald Fellows was already well known to the Family Court Division of the Superior Court of the District of Columbia as "R.F., a Juvenile Male," due to his lengthy arrest record.
That record remained sealed, of course, in hopes that the lack of unfavorable publicity and the efforts of the court and its social workers could persuade Ronald to mend his criminal ways before he reached the age of majority, when—God forbid—he would have to be incarcerated with adult criminals, many of whom had not committed crimes half as severe as "R.F." had at the tender age of seventeen. Fellows had already burglarized houses, stolen cars, and sold a lot of crack. Today, he was continuing the time-honored tradition of working for a major drug trafficker in the capacity of a juvenile lookout, one over whom the police had precious little leverage and who could be trusted to work and keep quiet in exchange for a fee without any real fear of being locked up.
Fellows' right hand held a fairly new Motorola Talkabout radio. He pressed the call button, and a voice in a heavy Jamaican patois responded.
"Five-O. Green Buick. Just passed Junebug, and he's headed your way."
"Ah see 'em, mon. Nice work." There was a pause, and the voice spoke more softly and deliberately. "Take the rest of the day off, mon."
"Sure—see ya tomorrow." Fellows shrugged.
He was careful not to address the other party by name over the public airways. He did not question why he and his employer were terminating their commercial operations at so early an hour on a business day. He knew better.
From a second-floor window in an end apartment in the Miller Gardens projects, a middle-aged man peered from behind a cheap drape as he pocketed the mate to Fellows' Talkabout. Demetrius Reid was not especially tall, but he was massive, with a bone structure that easily supported his 250 pounds. His wrists were larger than many men's knees.
He took another glance through the window at Wilson and quickly calculated that he had ample time to prepare for the task ahead. Care and preparation had, after all, kept him out of Lorton, the DC jail, and the Federal Bureau of Prisons while many of his more careless posse brothers had been convicted and were still "inside." He had long since abandoned the dreadlocks he'd worn off the boat into Miami and kept the flash factor down on the streets. While there was some risk in the matter at hand, the risk was acceptable.
He had heard from his people on the street that Junebug, though on the pipe himself, was working for two detectives they called The Twins. If true, this was both a problem and an opportunity. The risk was that Junebug might be contacting Fellows and others in an attempt to help the police climb the ladder to their employer. Now, however, there was an opportunity to eliminate that problem, with the bonus of reminding rats such as Wilson of the high cost of such folly. To that end, Fellows had been instructed that if Junebug came inquiring, he was to be directed not to apartment 21—a single-bedroom apartment currently occupied by another trusted underling who was selling the twenty-dollar rocks that day—but to apartment 25, a two-bedroom flat at the end of the hall.
This apartment had been meticulously chosen, partly for its near 360 degrees of available views. One bedroom window faced Wheeler Avenue, overlooking the roof of an abandoned gas station. The door to this bedroom opened into a small living area, modestly furnished to give the impression that someone actually resided there. Across the hall a window in an identically configured bedroom opened onto the quadrangle behind the building.
Reid had checked this view after seeing the events on the street, and had noted that everything appeared normal. Three other project buildings were arranged as sides of a square with the rear facades facing the grassy quad. That area was filled with the usual cacophony of unruly kids playing while their mothers argued with their boyfriends of the moment and circles of young wannabe gangster rappers gathered, their boom boxes or bass-heavy car stereos blaring the latest hip-hop. Nothing even smelled of police or surveillance. Not that any officer attempting to quietly enter the building from this side would have been successful; the entire neighborhood could be expected to greet even a plain-clothes cop with loud, sarcastic shouts of "Why, hello officer!" or "How are things at Seven-D today, Five-O?"
The kitchen of the apartment directly to the rear of the living room completed the perimeter, with windows providing a view of an alleyway running between the project complex and a fenced-off parking lot serving the Johnson & Sons commercial laundry service building. Directly beneath the kitchen window stood a huge dumpster, the refuse collection depot for the complex. The top had been pried off some years before by someone looking to make a buck off some scrap metal, and it remained open, stinking up the alleyway and guaranteeing a minimum of foot traffic.
The stench was also the reason that the end apartments in the next building were used only for storage. No one would be looking out of those windows. The sanitation worker who emptied the dumpster would drive by later that evening, but the dumpster couldn't be seen from the street.
Reid opened a small closet in the hallway between one of the bedrooms and the kitchen and retrieved a pair of black leather gloves from a shelf. Also on the shelf sat a box of forty-gallon trashcan liners and a new, plastic-sealed roll of duct tape. He put on the gloves and, with a handkerchief, re-wiped both the box and roll of tape clean so that no prints could be lifted from either surface. He was about to close the closet door when he looked down and noticed a small, blue, corrugated block on the floor of the closet. He smiled, thinking how appropriate, picked up the block, and turned toward the door just as Junebug Wilson knocked. He crossed the living room, checked through the security peephole to make sure Wilson was alone, and opened the door.
"C'mon in, mon!" he said as the smaller man crossed the threshold.
"Just lookin' for a little rock, and I got a twenty…" Junebug's eyes darted around the room to see where his host might be keeping the stash.
He brought his gaze back around just in time to see the huge gloved fist before it smashed into the side of his head.
The big man looked at the unconscious lump on the floor. Any blood from the blow would be subdural. He checked Wilson for a wire, though he didn't expect to find one. The cops didn't normally wire a snitch on his first foray into new territory; the new targets were far too likely to check for one. A body recorder would come later, after the snitch gained the trust of those under investigation. As expected, there was no wire.
He ripped the plastic covering off the roll of duct tape, throwing the wrapper and the small blue block into the bottom of one of the trash bags. He rolled Wilson onto his stomach, pulled both his arms to the rear, and bound his hands together with the first turns of the tape, which he then brought down around the feet. Once he had hog-tied his victim, he wrapped a second length of tape around Wilson's face, carefully covering his mouth. He pulled up one of the two cheaply cushioned chairs in the room, sat down, and waited.
It took nearly ten minutes for Junebug's eyes to flutter open. As he moaned and gradually regained consciousness, he became aware of the big man leaning over him.
"Well now, Mistah Snitch. Did ya really think that ol' D-Mon was going to let ya just walk in and set up his peoples for the po-lice? I saw ya walkin' away from da Twins' car and I know what ya were up to! I don't think I can have that goin' on here, mon."
Wilson tried to speak, but his voice was muffled by the duct tape. He shook his head from side to side, the only protestation he could manage.
"No use denyin' it now, mon," his captor continued, as he first stuffed Wilson's bound feet, and then his legs, into the trash bag that contained the duct tape wrapper. "I saw ya doin' it, and ah know ya've done it before. Just so ya know what I'm doin' here now, it's very common for a dyin' man to lose control of himself—ya know, to shit and piss all over da place—and I don't want ya messin' up my carpet." He bent down and smiled widely, noting with satisfaction the terror in his victim's eyes.
He grabbed the roll of duct tape, first covering the nose, pausing again to smile and gaze into the terrified eyes as Wilson strained desperately for air that would not come. When the body finally stopped twitching, he wrapped the tape even higher, covering the eyes and forehead up to the scalp line. He took a second trash bag and pulled it over the corpse's head and shoulders until it overlapped the other bag. He sealed the seam between the two bags and left the remainder of the roll of tape connected to his new package.
Reid crossed the floor into the kitchen, opened the window, and looked out to each side. Seeing no one, he returned to the corpse, picked it up, and carried it to the window. After checking once more, he dropped the body into the dumpster below. He then put the remainder of the trash bags and the gloves into a paper sack and left the apartment.
It was approaching 8:00 p.m., and he was hungry. He got into the 1998 Chevy Cavalier and headed for the McDonald's a few blocks down on Wheeler. As he pulled into the drive-thru and placed his order, he deposited the paper sack with the gloves and box of trash bags into a plastic-capped trashcan by the driveway.
At 10:27 p.m., a Morrison Waste Disposal garbage truck turned off Wheeler Road by the abandoned gas station into the alley between the Miller Gardens apartments and the Johnson & Sons Laundry. While single residences, duplexes, and triplexes received the benefit of trash collection from the District's Department of Public Works, larger complexes like Miller Gardens required larger trucks to empty their dumpsters, and contracted private firms—like Morrison Waste—to take out their trash. The operator of the Morrison truck this evening was Leonard Davis, and it was his first night on the route.
Davis made it a habit to check the contents of the dumpsters he was to empty, in order to avoid damage to his company's vehicles. There had been that time when some damn fool in Northeast had filled a bin with the remnants of a broken sidewalk, and the near ton of concrete rubble had wrecked the machinery that raised the forks to lift the dumpsters. The incident had nearly cost him his job, so he always checked before engaging the hydraulics. Checking the bins also had a collateral benefit; Davis could fix almost any appliance, and had returned many a broken lamp, television, and kitchen item to working condition, realizing small profits when he sold his rescued and refurbished wares.
When Davis reached the Miller Gardens dumpster he maneuvered the truck's forks into position, but stopped before inserting them into the slots on the bin. He jumped out of the cab and climbed up on the front fender to look into the bin, noting the usual odor of rotting meat and chicken bones, vegetable remains, and other mixed refuse. He was about to climb down when he spotted a large object wrapped in trash bags and sealed with duct tape, resting below the front lip of the dumpster. He paused for a moment, thinking that it might be a roll of carpet. Then he wondered why anyone discarding carpet would bother to waste two perfectly good trash bags and a roll of tape on a bad rug.
He reached into his jeans, pulled out a pocketknife, and cut a slit just above the seal made by the duct tape. He then unhooked the small Maglite he wore on his belt and reached into the trash bag, the flashlight's beam focused on the slit. At first, it looked like there were only clothes inside, but when Davis attempted to pull the shirt through the hole in the bag, two lifeless hands, bound with duct tape, came with it. Davis recoiled from the lip of the dumpster, bouncing off the grill of the truck and falling to the pavement below.
"SHIT!" he screamed, shivering involuntarily. "SHIT! SHIT! SHIT!"
He scrambled under the fork on the driver's side and grabbed the company cell phone from the cab, dialing 911 as he screamed again.
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