By Steve Burns
Continued from Chapter 31.
Agent Milton Ferris of the Drug Enforcement Administration was not enjoying his role as the most disliked cop in San Diego. His orders from higher up, however, had been clear. Leonard Jefferson was a big player, so trade the threat of a murder conviction and the death penalty for as much information as possible. The murder of a local police officer would be the springboard in another round in the war on drugs.
Milton, a veteran of local law enforcement in South Carolina and twenty years of fickled federal administrations in the DEA, was looking forward to retirement. This arrogant asshole strapped to the gurney in the paramedic van would probably be his last major case. Leonard Jefferson was quiet now, the hospital having pumped him full of pain killers after the reconstructive surgery on his scrotum and penis. Milton took some satisfaction in knowing Jefferson would spend the rest of his life without his balls and a stubby little dick.
They pulled into the receiving area of the Metropolitan Correction Center, which looked more like a loading dock than the entrance to a jail. As the paramedics pulled the gurney with Jefferson from the van, Milton took the paperwork to the booking officer. The plan was to keep Jefferson in protective custody while the DEA followed up on his information, keeping him under lock and key until sufficient arrests and convictions were made to justify the deal he had struck.
“Howdy,” said Milton, “I’ve got one for the medical floor, the problem is he needs to be in protective custody, and under guard.”
“You’ll need to speak with the warden about those arrangements,” replied the officer.
“I understand. Is there somewhere you can hold him until I can get things cleared?” replied Milton.
“We’re pretty full up. Let’s see,” said the officer looking over the booking log. “I can’t put him by himself right now, but I have a tank full of illegals waiting for the deportation bus. They’re just workers, harmless. We can put him in there for a few minutes.”
Milton thought for a minute. He was more concerned about Jefferson than the deportees. Strapped down and doped up, he was not much of a threat. “I guess that’ll be OK. It shouldn’t take too long.”
The officer directed the paramedics to the holding tank as Milton made his way to the warden’s office. Jefferson, firmly strapped to the gurney, was wheeled into a small holding tank, where thirty or more illegal Mexican immigrants waited to be moved to the Border Patrol bus waiting in the loading area.
The appearance of the man on the gurney drew everyone’s attention in the holding tank, including Joaquin Torres. Among the deportees, Joaquin did not stand out, as he sat pondering how he would get back across the border once he was released. He recognized Leonard Jefferson immediately and his rage began to grow. In Joaquin’s mind, that was the man who had caused all this crap to happen.
As soon as the paramedics and guards left the tank, Joaquin motioned for four of his companions to watch the door. He walked to Jefferson’s side. Leonard was doped up, but not asleep. He surveyed his new surroundings as best he could, completely held in place by the leather restraints. The man standing over him looked familiar, but it took a moment for him put a name with the face.
“Joaquin,” said Jefferson, dreamily, “Wwhat are you doing here?”
Joaquin lifted the blanket and smiled at the restraints holding Jefferson in place. He lowered the blankets and looked into Jefferson’s eyes.
“Hasta la vista, puto,” said Joaquin as he slid a hand over Jefferson’s mouth. Jefferson looked confused as Joaquin took his other hand and began to squeeze his throat. By the time Jefferson realized Joaquin was choking him, it was too late to respond. Even without the restraints, Jefferson would not have been able to fight off the loss of consciousness clouding his mind. His vision turned hazy and then black as he lost sight of the leering Joaquin. Death came for Jefferson a minute later.
The jail officers had remarked on Jefferson sleeping as they moved him to the medical ward and left him to be examined by the jail physician. It was some time later that the doctor determined Jefferson was dead. Because of Jefferson’s other wounds, it would be several hours before anyone noticed he had been strangled.
Long before that time, Joaquin had left the Border Patrol bus and entered Mexico a free man. His wife was waiting for him and gave him his green card. After a fine meal and a few uncharacteristic cervezas to celebrate, Joaquin Torres returned to the United States and his home in North County.