I never expected that it would have ended like that. My thirty- five year career in the Los Angeles Police Department as a vice detective with a record number of arrests and more killing than anyone should have to see should have ended with me retiring to play golf everyday on my pension. I was three months away from achieving freedom from worrying about drug cartels and street gangs in South Central, but that was of course when they chose to strike at me.
The morning of October 13, 2006 was just like any other morning, I woke up at 4:30 a.m. went for a run despite the chill air and smoggy atmosphere which pervades through the city, had a solid, filling breakfast, and I left in my blue ’69 Chevy Chevelle SS which I had since the day it came to the dealerships and still cherished. The only thing unique about this was that I forgot to say goodbye to my wife, Marianne, something I had forgotten maybe twice in the thirty years we had been married. The last thing she said to me every morning was “I love you,” because, according to her, that was the last thing she wanted to have ever said to me if I did not come home that night. Sometimes, in the vice department, going undercover and living in dangerous areas is a necessity, one that can get you killed with one mistake. Anyway, after leaving the house, I went into the office. Upon entering the imposing, grey station, I said hi to Nicole, the now forty-year-old woman who had taken a job at the front desk while she was trying to make it as an actress when she was twenty, then I went to my desk. On my computer, I had an email from my partner, Angus Prodit, saying he was working on getting some information from a potential rat in the Guzman drug cartel, heroin dealers from Mexico and probably the bloodiest and most brutal cartel in existence. Reading this email made my mind flash back to 1977.
During my first year as a vice cop, I got close to bringing down the leadership of the Guzman cartel on a similar tip. One of their mid- level lieutenants who was on the top ten most wanted list of the FBI got sick of being hunted everywhere he went and wanted to get protection in exchange for the time and location of a meeting in the Los Angeles where all the top level officials of the operation would be. We took the tip, relocated him, and I was sent into the meeting posing undercover using our informant’s identity. The meeting turned out to be in a big mansion in the outskirts of the city. People were arriving at the big, white, colonial style house in their chic, formal attire. There were women and even some children there too; for all anyone could see it was just a big party thrown by some rich socialite who wanted to show off. As I walked into the central courtyard of the massive house, which apparently belonged to one of the cartel members, I saw the number one target of the vice department’s operations, Beltran Guzman, the cartel leader, sitting among his most trusted advisors. Combined, their bounties probably totaled more than five million dollars. However, it became apparent this was no party as there were armed guards everywhere, so taking any of the leaders down was out of the question, at least for now. I asked one of the people serving food to the guests where I could find a bathroom and he gave me directions. Once in the bathroom, I gave the code signal via my concealed, masked frequency radio to tell the waiting SWAT team that I had confirmed the identities of all the targets and it was time to move in. Within the next thirty seconds, the house turned from a peaceful scene into a nightmare. Helicopters came and dropped in their men just as trucks rolled up and dropped off theirs. The house exploded in gunfire, the assault rifles and heavy machine guns of the cartel guards and submachine guns of the SWAT team fired at each other nonstop. The SWAT team was not making enough progress to stop the escape of the leaders, so I decided it was my turn to step in. I jumped from the second floor down into the courtyard, just twenty yards from the people who were holding together this entire criminal organization and started shooting with my pistol. I hit two of the five advisors in the head and got Guzman himself in the left shoulder before someone smashed my head from behind with the butt of a rifle. Guzman walked up to me in my half-conscious state and, using his good arm shot me in the chest with a handgun. The last thing I saw before everything went black was he reaching into my hidden pocket and taking out my badge to look at the name. “David Resilto,” he said, “I hope you don’t die tonight, so I can kill you in a much more painful fashion.” I found out later that I flat lined three times in the hospital that night, but with my wife by my side, I pulled through by some miracle.
Since that night in ’77, I did not hear anything about the Guzman cartel or Beltran himself except that he ended up losing all function in his left arm and ended up having it amputated to prevent infection. The event and Guzman’s words faded from my mind after a few months and work continued as normal. For twenty-nine years, I did not think about the Guzman cartel, because they either lost business or became much better at hiding, and until I got that email, I thought that no one there had thought about me. However, according to the email, the potential rat, would only talk to me. That should have been a big, neon, flashing warning sign in my mind to turn the case over to someone else, but I did not, after all I trusted Angus and thought there was no way the situation would be dangerous. I decided to go to the designated location, a house in a shady neighborhood of south Los Angeles and get to the tip. When I arrived at 1333 South Drive in my cruiser, I saw not Angus’ police cruiser, but his personal car, and an unmarked moving truck in the driveway of the house. The house itself was a rundown affair with an overgrown yard, peeling, once yellow paint and one shattered window visible from the front. Upon entering through the already unlocked door, I immediately noticed the perfect cleanliness, the smell of bleach, something I had learned to associate with a badly covered up murder scene, and the fact that there was no one sitting in the main room. After taking two steps in, I heard the door close and turned around just in time to see Angus pistol-whip me in the face with his gun. The last thing I felt before passing out was a tooth out of its socket, and a mix of confusion, fear and absolute, unbridled rage.
When I woke up, I was in the dark, tied up and rolling around on the floor of what I assumed had to be the unmarked moving truck going on its way to Mexico through drug smuggling tunnels. Angus had blindsided me, literally and figuratively. He baited me into going alone to a place no one would look for me with my curiosity about what became of the Guzman cartel, to whom I had to assume he was taking me to now. As I was having these thoughts and straining against my rope bonds, desperate to find any weakness, the truck went over a bump and took a sharp turn causing me to bash my already injured head against the wall and pass out once again.
On waking up, there were two things I could feel, a massive headache and a sharp pain in my wrists and ankles, which I assumed had recently been untied after hours or days of tight bondage. Then I opened my eyes and saw that I was in a small, completely concrete room with one window, a jail cell type door, and a metal chair with leather straps. “Torture,” I thought, “that’s not happening while I have anything to say about it.” I quickly formulated a plan and lay down on the floor as if unconscious until I heard someone approaching and the door open. With my eyes so slightly open that they appeared closed, I saw someone had brought in a wheeled table with tools for which there is only one use on top, torture. With unbelievable quickness from someone as old as me, I lunged, grabbed a knife from the table, stabbed the man wheeling the table in the neck, and hid his body in the corner of the room. Looking out the window to see my surroundings, I saw I was in a massive compound on a hill overlooking a small town. There was no way this town was not filled with cartel employees, none of whom would hesitate to kill me if they found me. Realizing the depth of trouble I was in and that it would be a miracle for me to get out of here, I grabbed the knife, resolved to make Angus and Beltran both pay for what they had put me through and thought “They’re gonna wish they just let me retire.”
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