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Calendar >  Angels With Dirty Hands -Thomas Calabrese

Angels With Dirty Hands -Thomas Calabrese

By   /  December 4, 2021  /  10 Comments


The Unholy Alliance

Thomas Calabrese — The two young boys grew up in the neighborhood outside the back gate of Camp Pendleton Marine Corps Base, two blocks from the intersection of Vandegrift Boulevard and North River Road.  Glenn Marlowe’s father was a former Marine and now worked as a civilian employee for Facilities Maintenance on base and Sam Tulley’s father was employed by the Oceanside water department. Glenn and Sam were more like brothers than friends. Their houses were right across the street from each other and you were just as likely to find Glenn at the Tully home as it was to find Sam over at the Marlowe residence. Glenn had two older sisters, Natalie and Cara and Sam had an older brother, Greg. There was a time when Greg dated Cara for a while, but they moved on to other people and remained friends.  Birthdays and holidays were mutually shared by the Marlowe and Tully families. It was a happy childhood for the two boys who took full advantage of being adventurous and energetic in sunny Southern California. If they weren’t playing sports, Glenn and Sam could often be found at the beach with their buddies and a wide assortment of female companions, surfing and playing volleyball.

Glenn and Sam attended El Camino High School and while they were best friends with many common interests, there were distinct differences between the two boys, not just physically, but emotionally and mentally. Glenn was tall, standing six foot three inches, was a lean 195 pounds, quick and agile and was more inclined to be thoughtful and empathetic. Sam was five foot ten inches tall, weighed two hundred twenty pounds and thickly muscled. He was impetuous, quick- tempered and would rather go through something than around it. Sam was nicknamed the Force and Glenn was called Finesse by their teammates and close friends.

Glenn was the quarterback for the school football team. He was a dual threat as the signal caller and could throw and run with equal proficiency. When he dropped back into the pocket, Sam, the starting fullback would be right there to provide protection and when Glenn decided to run, Sam would be out front, often taking out two or three defenders with his blocking. He also played middle linebacker and the only thing he liked better than leveling defenders with a devastating block was smashing through the offensive line to sack a quarterback or throw a running back for a loss.  It wasn’t unusual for Glenn’s uniform to only have a few grass stains while Sam would be bloodied, muddied and soaked with perspiration at the end of a game. Although they never verbalized it, Sam took great pride in protecting his friend and Glenn never took Sam’s effort for granted.

When they became seniors, Glenn accepted an appointment to the US Naval Academy and Sam received a scholarship offer to attend UCLA. This would be the first time in their lives that they would be separated. After graduation, they decided to make the most of their last summer together.

They were on Moonlight Beach playing volleyball, surfing and doing some under-age drinking. As evening came, two girls came up and invited Glenn and Sam to a party at a beachfront home. By the time the two friends arrived at the multi-million dollar residence, just after sunset the party was already in high gear, several men staggered out and collapsed on the sand.

            “Let’s get in there, old buddy,” Sam smiled.

Glenn responded, “I don’t know…any party that is this crazy this early is going to be bad news. Let’s go home.”

            “Don’t worry, I got your back…like always,” Sam pulled a reluctant Glenn into the house.

Marcus Quintero was an up and coming member of the infamous Baja Cartel. He was a drug supplier to some very wealthy individuals and these parties were his way of keeping his customers happy and high. Drugs were all over the place and people were freely partaking of them. Neither Glenn nor Sam were into drugs so they agreed to leave.  Qunitero had been skimming money from the cartel and they couldn’t have that. The house was also being surveilled by a narcotics task force unit who were waiting for word to assault the house, arrest everyone in it and confiscate the narcotics.

When the head of the task force, Kelvin Milligan saw armed men enter the house, he knew that they couldn’t wait, “Go now! Go!”

The drug cartel soldiers started shooting as soon as they entered and the federal agents were only a few seconds behind with their weapons at the ready. When they began taking fire, they shot back in self- defense and dozens of panicked partygoers were caught in a deadly crossfire.

Glenn asked his friend as bullets peppered the room they were standing in, “Are you ready to go now?”

As three cartel soldiers entered, Sam grabbed a small couch and used it as a battering ram to push the shooters out the window. As soon as they hit the ground, they were shot by federal agents.

When he heard police ordering the people in the house to lie on the floor, Sam knew they only had a few seconds to make their escape, “Get out of here, I’ll be right behind you.”

Glenn hesitated then jumped out the second floor window into the hedge. When three police officers drew down on him, Sam jumped on them, knocking them to the ground. One agent suffered a broken collarbone and another was knocked unconscious. Sam badly sprained his ankle during the fall and couldn’t run. He grimaced, “Get outa’ here!”

Glenn retorted, “I can’t leave you.”

“No sense both of us getting caught.”

At that precise time, Marcus Quintero ran out the front door and was riddled with bullets when he fired at the federal agents. Glenn took off in a full sprint and could see the muzzle flashes when he looked over his shoulder and heard the sirens as reinforcements rushed to the location.

Sam was taken into custody and charged with assault of a federal officer and a variety of lesser charges including conspiracy to distribute illegal controlled substances. Sam refused to name Glenn. His lack of cooperation was not looked on with favor by the United States Attorney.

When Glenn visited Sam in federal lock-up, he did his best to convince his friend that he should come forward, “If I explain the situation, it might make a difference.”

Sam shook his head, “I made the decision to jump out the window on those federal agents. The only thing that will happen is they’ll charge you if you come forward.”

Judge Herman Rabb gave Sam a harsh penalty for his youthful indiscretion, “I sentence you to seven years to be served at Victorville Maximum Security Correctional Facility. Mr. Tully, I hope you will take this time to contemplate the seriousness of your actions. You are still young enough to have a productive life after you’ve paid your debt to society.”

Judge Rabb had to be extremely harsh with someone, considering how lenient he was with the other people at the party who received probation.  Judge Rabb was on the payroll of the Baja Cartel and he needed to put on a good show to avoid suspicion.

Glenn was brokenhearted, frustrated and feeling extremely guilty and the last thing he wanted to do was attend the Naval Academy. It took the joint efforts of the Marlowe and Tully families to convince him.

Sam’s father, Pete said. “I know how you feel, but Sam wouldn’t want you to throw your dreams away. He needs to focus on getting through this without worrying about you. I’ve talked to his lawyer, we may have grounds for an appeal.” Pete was lying, there were no grounds for a new trial.

Three years into his sentence, Sam got into a fight with several me and put them all in the infirmary. Two years were added to his sentence and he was transferred to Pelican Bay, California’s only supermax prison. It is ranked in the top-10 worst prisons in America and is riddled with violent gang crime. Many of the inmates are drug cartel members.

Glenn graduated the Naval Academy and was commissioned a second lieutenant in the Marine Corps and served with honor and distinction for eight years on active duty then transferred to the Reserves. He accepted a position with U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement Homeland Security Investigations, which conducts domestic and international investigations of human trafficking, child sex tourism and forced child labor.

Sam made several contacts with high ranking criminal leaders while he was incarcerated and when he was finally released, there were several high paying opportunities available to him, of course they were all illegal. 

Sam was in Mexico on business when he saw Judge Herman Rabb at the Vista Hermosa Resort in Rosarito Beach.  Herman Rabb didn’t recognize him, but the memory of the judge was forever imprinted into Sam’s memory.

There was a big dinner party in the private banquet room with a group of smugglers, drug dealers and cartel soldiers. Herman was enjoying himself, drinking too much and socializing with the female hostesses. When he went to the men’s room, Sam followed him.

            “How you doing?” Herman Rabb slurred his words.

Sam smiled, “It’s been a while, Judge.” 

Judge Rabb stared at Sam, “I don’t recognized you, sorry.”

            “I was just a young boy when I was in your courtroom. I’ve changed a lot since then. You told me that after I paid my debt to society, I could still have a productive life. You were right, look how well I turned out.” Sam grabbed the elderly judge, choked him out then injected the elderly jurist in the neck with a hotshot (an assassination technique where a lethal amount of drugs are injected into a person’s bloodstream and placed the limp body on the commode.

The drug cartel assumed that the corrupt judge had overdosed so they smuggled him back across the border and into his house in the middle of the night. When the judge’s wife came downstairs the following morning she found him sitting in his recliner in the living room.

Pablo Gallardo was a ruthless drug lord and Sam was his most trusted assassin. The two men were in Gallardo’s private suite, “Damn judge, I wish he could have controlled his habit. He kept a lot of my men out of prison. Nobody is indispensable in this business, remember that, Sam.”

            “Should I look around for another judge that we can use? Sam asked.

            “Good idea, keep me posted,” Gallardo said.

As the years passed, Glenn built up an impressive resume of finding imprisoned women all over Mexico and Central America and freeing them from captivity. Regional Director David Holston called Glenn into his office, “I just wanted to congratulate you on your last operation. Sixty women and five hundred pounds of fentanyl…impressive.”

Glenn adeptly diverted to the praise, “I work with a good team.’

David Holston asked, “How would you feel about heading back to San Diego? You’re from that area, aren’t you?”

            “Oceanside, just up the road a bit,” Glenn responded.

            “Know it well, I was a Marine too. I’m recommending you to assume command of a joint task force between the Mexican government and us. Your primary target is Pablo Gallardo and his cartel. Do you want the assignment?”

            “Absolutely sir.” Glenn smiled.

Over the coming months, Gallardo’s organization suffered heavy losses and he became frustrated, “I don’t know how they know so much about our shipments. I need you to kill Glenn Marlowe, the head of the task force, that will slow them down for a while.”

Sam responded, “That would be a mistake.”

             “I can get someone else to do it if you’re not up to the job,” Gallardo snarled.

            “I’m up to any job, but I don’t like doing things that don’t make sense. Killing Marlowe will only buy you a couple of weeks before they replace him and come after you even harder. I’ve got a better idea.”

            “Which is?” Gallardo asked.

            “Put me in charge.” Sam said.

Gallardo laughed, “That’s what I like about you, I’ll kill you if you fail me, but you still got no fear.”

            “That’s why you pay me the big bucks,” Sam responded.

Sam set up a shipment schedule figuring that it was better to sacrifice a few small shipments and soldiers in order to get the big ones through. This philosophy kept Glenn in charge and the politicians in Washington and Mexico City with something to hang their hat on.

Once the big shipments made it through and payment was received, Gallardo couldn’t care less what happened to the distributors. When the task force did hit the smugglers coming across the border, they went after the dealers.

David Holston flew to San Diego to meet with Glenn, “The President wanted to personally commend you on a job well done. He’s been able to politicize it and that opens up some promotional possibility for both of us.”

            “I’m happy right where I am…but you go for it. I’ve got a tip about something big coming down. I’ll keep you posted,” Glenn said.

Glenn arrived at the Excellence Playa Mujeres in Cancun and was sitting in the dining room when the waiter came over, “Are you dining alone?”

Glenn responded, “I’m expecting someone, he should be here any moment. A minute later, Sam sat down across from Glenn. The waiter returned and asked, “Are you ready to order now.”

Sam answered, “Two seafood platters and two cervezas.”

            “Thanks for all the tips, my boss is extremely pleased,” Glenn said.

            “My pleasure, but we’re on borrowed time. It’s better to get out too early, than too late.”

            “Can’t argue with that,” Glenn agreed.

Sam explained, “Two billion dollars in fentanyl is coming in from China and due to arrive at the Port of Ensenada on Saturday.” (This deepwater port lies in Bahia de Todos Santos and accommodates cruise ships, bulk cargo and freighters) “The container ship will always be carrying human cargo. From what Gallardo tells me there will be a payment of 500 million dollars for the drugs and women. I’m in charge of security for the money. One more thing, there will be Chinese officials and American and Mexican politicians at the exchange to get their share.”

            “Take them all down at the same time?” Glenn asked.

Sam held up his bottle of beer to propose a toast, “To Force and Finesse.”

Glenn raised his bottle as well, “We’ve got a couple of days to come up with a plan.”

Glenn didn’t want to take the chance of his plan being leaked back to Washington so he made up some other excuse for his task force being in the area. He told his second in charge, Jerry Beaumont, “Keep your eyes open.”

Jerry inquired, “What am I looking for?”

            “Look for a truck coming in, I’m going to take a walk around.”

Off in the distance, Glenn saw Sam arrive with a group of Sicarios (hired gunmen or assassins). Moments later, Gallardo and some Americans arrived at the port in a convoy of armored SUV’s.

Glenn radioed his task force, “I don’t know what’s going on, but be prepared to move in.”

When two containers were off-loaded, they were opened, one was filled with narcotics and the other was filled with young women. Gallardo wave to Sam to bring the money. At this time, Glenn radioed, “Move in!”

A gunfight ensued and Gallardo and many cartel soldiers were killed in the battle. Six high ranking American bureaucrats were quickly taken into custody. Sam shot several guards and drove off with the money.

When Jerry Beaumont saw the truck driving off, he raised his weapon to fire, Glenn pulled the barrel down, “Let him go, we got what we came for.”

Three days later, David Holston was reading Glenn the riot act, “Just what the hell were you thinking! I would never have approved that operation!”

Glenn lied, “We were there for something else, it kind of happened before my eyes and I just reacted. It was just a target of opportunity and I made the wrong call. I take full responsibility because I gave the order. The buck stops with me.”

David Holston continued with his tirade, “Both Washington and Mexico are screaming for your head! I can’t cover for you!”

            “No reason for you to take the heat. Throw me under the bus, I deserve it. You can fire me or I’ll resign. Do whatever you think it’s best for you,” Glenn walked out without waiting for a reply.

Two weeks later, Glenn met Sam at the luxurious Grace Bay Beach on the island of Provo in Turks and Caicos, an archipelago of 40 low-lying islands in the British Territory southeast of the Bahamas.

Sam smiled, “We’ve got five hundred million dollars, any idea how you want to spend it?”

            “Just because we’re both unemployed doesn’t mean that the epidemic of human trafficking has stopped. We’ve both got skills and knowledge, might as well continue to use them. There’s a lot of bad guys out there that need to be stopped.”

Sam responded with enthusiasm, “I like your style,” put his arm around his lifelong friend’s shoulder and added, “The Unholy Alliance continues.”

 I guess some people might call Glenn and Sam, angels with dirty hands.

The End

Work of fiction. Names, characters, business, events and incidents are the products of the author’s imagination. Any resemblance

The Veterans Writing Group of San Diego County invites all writers to join us at our monthly meetings. Veterans and Non-Veterans are equally welcome. For more information go to our website: www.veteranswritinggroup.org


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  1. Tom says:

    An Unholy Alliance….I love it!
    Well done…or BZ, as we say in the Navy!

  2. David says:

    Really like the story Tom.And if I’m not mistaken Jerry Beaumont.
    Aka Jerry Mathers, and Hugh Beaumont.

  3. Robert says:

    That was a good story. Thanks

  4. Tony says:

    A very important story of friendship and an alliance formed over any years. Above all a strong message to the people of our country.
    The Drug Enforcement Agency (DEA) Customs and Border Patrol (CBP) and many Federal and Local Law-Enforcement Agencies work 24/7 to safe guard our country from people like the Drug Cartels. Many heroic men and women got through great lengths in an attempt to keep illegal drugs out of the hands of people. It is shameful that people will endanger their lives and use drugs that can take their life. While our Law-Enforcement personnel from all agencies risk their lives to help save people. It is certainly a sad situation. Very nice story of what is occurring in our county and the efforts of our government to circumvent stupid decisions people are making that can permanently harm their life.

  5. wolf says:

    Another entertaining story. In this case the end justified the means

  6. John michels says:

    Another great read and twist of a really old movie. Wish corrupt judges and politicians could really be taken out like in your stories

  7. Tom:
    As usual, very good story. Thanks

  8. Clyde says:

    Another story where character development was excellent. A nice twist at the end.

  9. Bart says:

    Good one, they should all end that well.

  10. Bill says:

    Friendship triumphs over everything else eh? Good read.

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