Karen and I remain good friends, but we have not shared tacos since. She is doing well in math and has a bright future. She started dating Alfred, the same guy from our freshman study group. I am nearing completion of my psychology degree and have met my own beau, Doug Crawford. I was excited to hear that Alfred had proposed and Karen had accepted. She was on cloud nine. They were a perfect couple, and I was so happy for them. I met up with Karen and Alfred in the cafeteria.
“So, what’s the latest with you two love birds?”
“We are going to Puerto Vallarta for our honeymoon”, remarked Alfred. “Banderas Bay is beautiful and so romantic”, chimed in Karen.
“I am so happy for you both. Send me lots of pictures. And be careful. Is Mexico the safest place to go these days?”
“Very safe,” interjected Alfred. “I’ve done my research. The government watches these resorts like a hawk. They can’t afford for tourism to be affected.”
“Makes sense”, I thought.
They had a small wedding. The bride looked radiant and the groom was grinning from ear to ear. I got to meet Karen’s parents. They were charming. Karen had picked her parents well. Her father was so proud of her and she of him. His recent diagnosis of early-stage Alzheimer’s was not obvious to the untrained eye. Karen had the DJ start playing Dance With My Father by Luther Vandross. She took her father’s hands and they slowly danced. And when he cried, she dabbed his eyes dry. It was heartwarming. The love they had for each other was pure and timeless.
Sadly, Alfred was going this alone. His parents had divorced when he was young. His father had not even bothered to come to the wedding. Alfred’s Mom was there alone. She smiled, but you could see the many years of loneliness in her eyes. Sad eyes. I felt bad for her.
The evening was drawing to a near. All of the bridesmaid’s lined up and Karen threw the bouquet. I think she threw it at me on purpose. I caught it, much to the chagrin of the other ladies.
We lined up with our baskets of rice waiting for the couple to leave the reception. They hurried past as we pelted them with the fine granules. They were off to the airport and distant shores. I blew them a kiss and waved goodbye.
Back in my dorm room, I looked at my phone. They would be on the third day of their honeymoon. I wondered if they had managed to get a sunburn and ruin their cuddling time. I looked at Twitter and saw a tweet about an attack on tourists in Mexico. Armed men had staged an attack on tourists at the Vallarta Botanical Gardens. It was somewhat off the beaten path, so I wasn’t overly concerned about Karen and Alfred. The news was rather dire and shocking. Some dozen heavily armed men believed to be members of the Jalisco Cartel attacked tourists at the park. There was a brief shoot out with local security, but the criminals quickly overwhelmed them. A church bus carrying 20 young girls was one of the victims of the attack. All of these girls were missing. Authorities were speculating that some of these girls may have been children of a rival cartel. I decided to try my luck at calling Karen to make sure they were ok. Her phone went directly to voice mail. Same with Alfred’s phone. They could be on the beach or out on a sunset cruise, so I wasn’t alarmed. Then I got a call from Alfred. He was hysterical.
“They got her Lydia! They have her! What am I going to do? What am I going to do?”
I tried to get him to calm down, but he was so terribly distraught. “Tell me what happened!", I pleaded. “I will help you.”
“These men showed up wearing ski masks and armed to the gills with guns. They stopped the bus and killed the driver. Karen was getting something from the rental car, and it was parked close to the bus. I was up ahead getting our tickets for the park when I heard the gunshots. I screamed for her and just as she turned, a man threw a laundry bag over her head and punched her right through the bag. She fell down and he picked her up over his shoulders and headed for a box truck they had brought with them. Several men and I ran towards them, but they shot at us and killed the man next to me. I dove for cover and was grazed in the left arm. Karen wasn’t the only one they kidnapped. They got a school bus full of young girls and they executed several men in the parking lot and kidnapped their daughters and wives. It was like something out of a nightmare. What am I going to do? The authorities are clueless.”
I thought for a moment. “Listen Alfred. I have a close family friend, Jim Fellows, who works for DARPA or the CIA or something. I don’t know what he really does, but he has contacts in the military and the government, and he will know what to do. You go back to the hotel and wait for me to call you back... or for instructions from the Mexican authorities. We will get on this right away while the trail is fresh. Bye Alfred. Be strong for Karen.”
I opened my contacts list in my phone. My hand was shaking so badly I could barely type in Jim’s name. Tears clouded my vision making the screen blurry. I finally pulled up his name and called him.
He answered, “Lydia! how is my girl doing?”
I started sobbing into the phone. I couldn’t speak coherently.
“Lydia, Lydia, tell me what’s wrong.”
After several seconds I was able to recover my composure sufficiently to share what had happened. Jim listened quietly. “I’m aware of the attack. I have sources keeping me posted.”
I shared that I had just attended the wedding of my two closest college friends and that Karen was one of the girls who was abducted. “What do they want with them? Is it revenge or something? The news says it is family members of a rival cartel.”
Jim was alarmingly quiet for several seconds. “If it is, that might be worse for the girls on the bus. In that case they would probably be tortured and slowly decapitated while still alive. Cartels film this shit and post it on the dark web. The cruelty and violence of these cartels defies description. They make ISIS look like boy scouts. But I don’t think that is what is going on here. They would not target other young women. Also, cartel members protecting the bus would have engaged these men. It appears the only shooting victims were some bystanders and a few security personnel. No, this is not two cartels extracting revenge on one another. This sounds like a brazen daylight attack to recruit more women into sex trafficking. Attractive American women are targets of opportunity. Karen was probably in the wrong place at the wrong time. I suspect the school bus had been scoped out and some of these girls were also very pretty.”
Jim took another long pause before speaking. “Yes, I might be able to help. Being a foreign country poses some challenges. This cannot involve US military or law enforcement. It is going to require private contractors... and intelligence. They will likely drug these girls up and disperse them to other countries... maybe even the US. Time is of the essence. Give me Alfred’s number. I will fly out to meet him and we will figure things out there.”
“Jim, thank you. You have been such a godsend to me and my family. I love you like my father.”
“I know Lydia. I love you too. We will get Karen back or die trying.”
“Please don’t say that. And please be careful. Losing my dad in Afghanistan was the worst thing that ever happened to me. I can’t go through that again with you.” Jim had served with my Dad in Afghanistan. Jim had been the one to tell my Mom that our Dad had been killed by an IED. My Mom’s scream when she was told still haunts me.
Jim spoke to his friend at DARPA before calling Alfred. He didn’t like what he heard. Sex trafficking had become the number one export of the Mexican cartels. Global demand for young women and children was exploding. There were huge and growing markets in the Middle East, Asia, Thailand and even Europe and the US. Officially, some 4.8 million children and young adults were being groomed as sex workers and the number was expected to double within the next 5 years. Agape International missions estimates that over 40 million people worldwide are kept as modern-day slaves. Children born to these young girls are taken away from their mothers and raised for the pedophile rings. Hollywood has quite the appetite for these undocumented children. With no birth records, they are ghosts in the system. If a Satanic cult needs to make a sacrifice to Moloch, they no longer have to rely on chickens. For a price, they can sacrifice a child. The girls are used as sex workers until they are 30 or so and then shot in the back of the head so that their organs can be harvested for the organ transplant black market. This off shoot is another dark and very lucrative business. It is extraordinarily evil and Jim decided that he would use his unique skills to make a difference.
Jim’s DARPA contact warned him. There are people very high up in government that participate in these vile acts. “Why do you think both political parties ignore this terrible, growing problem? The Deep State is real and if you draw too much attention, you could become victim of an unfortunate accident.”
Jim thanked his friend and hung up. He was soon on a flight to meet Alfred in Mexico.
A day passed before Jim’s DARPA friend reported any news. His friend reported, “We are keeping a close eye on the cartel’s network if only because of the international attention that this attack has garnered. Ground assets and satellite reconnaissance reveal a high probability that the first batch of girls has been dispersed already to Saudi Arabia, Canada (of all places), Mexico city and Las Vegas. Other details are there are six American captives, ages 16, 19, 19, 20, 23 and 25. He listed their names and Karen was named in this list. Twelve of the girls on the bus were from various cities in Mexico, ages 14 to 17. The other 8 girls from the bus must have not been pretty enough, or they fought back. Their bodies were discovered piled up on the side of a road. The other girls have been identified. Two were sisters from England ages 12 and 14—their parents were executed in front of them. One, age 18 is from Australia. One daughter and mother were kidnapped ages 12 and 31, both from Singapore. That is all we know of. Listen Jim, brass is not going to authorize anything. This is a no touch from our perspective. It sucks, I know, but they feel there are bigger fish to fry. Good luck.”
“Please let me know if you get the whereabouts of Karen.”
“Will do. Bye.”
It was only several days later that Jim learned of his DARPA friend’s tragic death in a home gas leak explosion.
Jim called Lydia. “I just learned of a friend’s untimely death; I believe because he shared intel with me on this attack in Mexico. Somebody wasn’t happy about me snooping around. I still have a friend in the CIA who was with me in Psyops when we were stationed together in Afghanistan. I have to be careful not to burn him, but I think he knows enough to keep this on the down low. Unfortunately, though, this means we are on our own. I’ll keep you posted.
Alfred had been trying to listen in on the conversation with Lydia.
Jim explained, “Alfred, this looks to be the work of sex traffickers. This is an international problem compounded by high-ranking government officials in many countries who turn a blind eye. We won’t be able to count on any help from the CIA, NSA or anyone else. We are on our own. How good are you with a gun?”
“Surprisingly good sir. I have my conceal carry permit and I can shoot a quarter size grouping with my Glock17 at 15 yards.”
“That’s great Alfred, but can you do that with 3 rounds in under 1 second?”
“Probably not, but if I can have a shot at these fuckers, I’m willing to give it a try.”
“Now we wait.”