This is Part II of a two-part series on dismantling human trafficking networks. You can read Part I here.
And then it happened…
A car slowly pulled up right in front of the dental clinic (surveillance location) and came to a complete stop. I was right away on comms with the boss.
“Not good; not good at all — do you want us to come pull you out?”
“Well, I mean not now, not yet, right? I’ll lay quiet and low and see how it pans out, and you can stay ready to deploy to back me up.” (I just didn’t want ninjas in black bodysuits scurrying across the neighbors’ block walls in the broad of day. So far they just sitting there, but I couldn’t think for the life of me what they would be doing parked there so close to the main entrance — perhaps studying for a final… or interested in renting the building?
It was ten-ish minutes later when the unidentified car departed. General George S. Patton’s Third Army would not have to deploy to my rescue after all. It wouldn’t have been such a big deal-io in the slightest other than damned if it didn’t happen again, but this time with a different car. I kept the boss updated but never hinted at a desire to pull off the objective.
The fear factor fervently flourished as the second car also left at about the 10-minute mark, eventually to be replaced by yet a third car around noon. I called it in and held the boss on the line while I attempted to gain a decent photograph of the car and especially the plate — no joy!
Three lost opportunities for plate and/or facial identification sucked all the air out of my lungs like a black hole. I was an ordained Photography God by papal decree… yet these cars I truly distrusted, these cars I did strangely mistrust.
A low groaning sound emanated from a direction, though I am loath to admit I knew not from where — from everywhere — and it chanted on like the long slow violins of autumn. In fact, it was saying “BOOOOOO!” — to ME — in taunt of my poor performance… It was time to get back to the hard-knock school and get at least a B.
At the noon hour, my phone rang. I mumbled something about the definition of a boss to be: “as of or pertaining to being an ass.” However, a nice surprise awaited me, as it was my son at the other end of the line on his lunch break at school.
“Hi dad, can we play my new video game some more when you get home from work this evening.”
“Sure we can, Geo… enjoy your lunch and I’ll see you this evening.”
Mine was the same ol’ maneuver each time a different car showed up: I tried to capture the make and model of the car, the color, sedan vs two-door, and photos of the driver and license plate if at all humanly possible.
Automobile identification was a distinct handicap of mine; if I never owned a particular make/model vehicle then I didn’t know what it was, and then I was in danger of even losing identification with those cars as the years went on and the styles/profiles changed so much.
“Geo, did you see the car that pickup up the victim — what’s the skinny?”
“Yea, yea… it was blue, light blue…”
“Geez, can you tell us anything more about the car, anything??”
“Well, engine kinda sounded like: ‘budda-budda-budda — chitty-chitty bang-bang vroooooom! I’d put it at a ’98 light blue Volkswagen Soprano with extended cab… and probably airbags.”
It was long about the evening on that surveillance stare, and I had not produced a single legible license plate photo yet.
However, I eventually noticed that in each car that stopped the driver or passenger would immediately hold their phone up to their face and crane their necks to look up through their windshields toward the roof of my observation building, somehow expecting Roger Rabbit to appear.
Fearing that we had been compromised, my boss was spooked enough to send me flailing out of the building and headed for the homestead. We aimed to pursue the matter after we had had a chance to brood over it and come up with some courses of action.
I was fine with that as I snaked along the hood’s masonry walls trying not to topple forth onto oversized red, yellow and blue plastic toy sets. Yet, I felt ridiculous as if I deserved to get shot off that-there wall for being stupid.
The phone rang as I drove off. This time it was my small daughter who wondered when I was coming home so we could play her new video game.
“Sure, Little Pea; in fact, I’m on my way home just now. Tell brother to be ready.” I reckoned if I gave them at least one hour of playtime I would not be a horrible father.
It cold-cocked me as odd, that to play their new video game we had to be mobile in a car and driving around town. With both of their iPhones opened to a legitimate map of the City of Las Vegas, my kids gave me directions to where they needed me to take them.
“Turn here, dad, keep going, turn left here and take the next left too.”
“There” was a 7-11 convenience store. When we arrived, a bonanza of clicks and clacks emanated from my kids’ iPhones who were doing battle with a video game monster. The light bulb in my head fizzled pallidly.
Our next stop was a fire department and the kids were click-clacking away to fell the beast that, according to the game, was perched there on the roof of the fire station building… and the fizzled bulb in my head grew slowly to 65 watts, and then nearly 100 watts.
Kids, stand by for the next attack; I’ll lead the way!” And I shot off for the third stop this time of my choosing. Yes, I pulled up in front of our donated surveillance building and came to a stop.
My skirmish line of chill-ins peered up toward the roof of the nothing-to-see-here building and immediately started to battle away at the imaginary monster that existed only on the screen of the kids’ telephones.
“Boss, it’s geo… the surveillance mystery is solved, we have zero compromise, and am going to resume persistent stare operations as normal tomorrow.
“What was the mystery?”
“It was a case of Pokémon GO.”
“Make sense, please”
I explained Pokémon GO to my boss the best way I could as we rolled back home, the kids sounding off clicky-clack, clickety-clack, all the way back.
“Dad… did you play any Pokemon GO on your phone at work today?”
“Yes, son… yes I certainly did play Pokemon GO all day at work today… I just didn’t know I was playing it.”
By Almighty God and with honor,