Can Mexico Fight from the Inside Out?

Earlier this week Mexico’s new president Enrique Peña Nieto outlined a new security approach, talking not specifically about cartel crime but about halting kidnappings and homicides. The plan contains changes to Mexico’s law enforcement structures, including changes to the Ministry of Public Security–the imperfect workplace of Eddo Cortez Castillo, the leading man in THE HIDDEN LIGHT OF MEXICO CITY.

To illustrate the challenges ahead for Mexico, here’s a bonus (click here for another excerpt) excerpt from THE HIDDEN LIGHT OF MEXICO CITY:  

Luis Yanez Luna worked out at a gym in one of the big hotels near the glorieta Christóbal Colón, the roundabout anchored by the huge statue of Columbus. The hotel parking garage was equipped with security cameras, so Eddo parked a few blocks away and walked through the lobby with his gym bag, flashing a room card at the uniformed hotel doorman as he passed.

The room card got him into the executive locker room by the spa and gym. There was no one else there, just as he expected, except for the attendant, an older man who handed out towels and kept the spacious locker room clean.

“I’m a guest of Señor Yanez Luna,” Eddo said, slipping the man 200 pesos. “We’d like privacy.

It took the old man a few beats to get the message. Eddo smiled and widened his eyes and the attendant left the locker room.

Luis reserved the entire gym twice a week at this time, working out alone as his bodyguard waited outside. Eddo grinned to himself as he wondered if the small fortune Luis was paying for the private gym time included discretion as well. If not, Vasco would probably be the first to hear the new rumor about the head of Financial.

Eddo changed from his suit into workout gear and stowed his clothes in a locker.

The gym was modern and over-decorated. Two walls were tiled to resemble ocean waves and the other two walls were mirrored, so that patrons could watch themselves get seasick as they worked out. The machines were the latest in chrome, with placards by each one giving directions how to use it.

A small room off the main gym was for serious weightlifters, with a bench, free weights, and a heavy bar with interchangeable weight plates. Eddo went in there and turned on the light. More tiled waves encircled the room. If he stood in the near corner he could see the glass doors leading into the spa and gym area as well as the locker room door.

After a few minutes he saw Luis and his bodyguard get off the elevator. Luis went into the locker room. The bodyguard, a beefy type in a dark suit, stationed himself outside the glass door leading to the gym. In about five minutes Federal cops were going to appear and start asking the bodyguard about his carry permit.

Luis, wearing a sleeveless black tee shirt and basketball shorts, came out of the locker room and stretched. Eddo pressed himself into the far wall. Luis realized that there was a light on in the weight room and approached.

Eddo stepped away from the wall. “Hello, Luis.”

“Eddo?” Luis blinked. “When did you get back? Why didn’t you call?”

Eddo moved fast, pinning Luis’s right arm behind him with one hand and closing the weight room door with the other. A shove with his shoulder and Luis’s face slammed into the tiled wall. Eddo’s cross trainer kicked apart the other man’s feet. Feet spread and dick against a wall made most men feel vulnerable.

“What the fuck?” Luis’s voice was tight.

“Your man in Anahuac,” Eddo said softly, his face close to Luis’s. “Turned out to be rotten and I’m wondering how far up it goes.”

“What are you talking about?” Luis grimaced from the pain of his arm twisted behind him.

“Sotos Bild. The man you hand picked nearly got me killed.”

“What?”

“Your man sold out the investigation,” Eddo snarled, remembering the violence that had poured over the street in Anahuac. “He knew just who to call. Funny part was, once he’d delivered the bank they didn’t need him. He’s in the already overcrowded morgue up there.”

“He’s dead?”

Eddo jabbed a knee into Luis’s ass, shoving the man’s crotch hard against the tiled wall and ignoring the resulting sob of pain. “You said he was taking orders straight from you. Nobody else was supposed to be involved.”

“Eddo,” Luis breathed into the wall. “I swear. I didn’t set you up. We’re friends. Sotos Bild was my best man up there.”

“When things went down in the street, somebody came after me.” Eddo yanked Luis forward then smashed him back against the wall. “Was that the plan? Take me out so this investigation could disappear?”

“I swear.” Luis wasn’t nearly as strong. His attempt to pull away made another landing against the wall that much more painful.

“Who are you working for?” Eddo demanded. “The Zetas? El Chapo? Get Sotos Bild to deliver the bank and you’d split the commission? Or El Toro? Make it looked like the bank closed so we’d drop the investigation? How much were they going to pay you?”

“Nothing,” Luis gasped. “I told the kid the cover story and the instructions just like we agreed. Did he get the codes?”

“No codes but you weren’t really expecting any, were you?” Eddo knew Luis hadn’t been this roughly handled since grade school. He gave the man’s twisted arm an upward shove as his knee kept up the pressure. “You gave Sotos Bild my name? My true name?”

“No, no.” The wall tiles were wet from the spit dribbling from Luis’s mouth and the tears of pain rolling down his cheeks. “Come on, let me go.”

Eddo hauled Luis away from the wall and threw him down on the weight bench.

Luis held his arm, his expression a mixture of pain and fear. “Sotos was a good kid,” he said huskily. One side of his face bore the imprint of tiny squares and his hair was disheveled. “He was plugged into a lot of stuff going on up there. Knew who the players were. If he tried to cut a deal it was his doing. Not mine.”

“And he’s not here to say otherwise.”

“He had his orders from me and it was exactly what you and I had agreed on.” Luis wiped his mouth.

“You think I’m just going to believe that?”

“I’ll give you his files,” Luis said. “Everything he was working on.”

Eddo stood between the door and the weight bench, stomach tight and muscles taut. He’d only told Luis that Banco Limitado was a cartel bank and had omitted the link to Hugo, but couldn’t be sure that Betancourt hadn’t said anything. Either way, it was hard to know if Luis was clean or not.

Luis dropped his head and rubbed his eyes.

“I’m going to finish this investigation,” Eddo finally said, his voice low. “You’re going to give me everything you’ve got and then Financial’s out. I may step on your toes, I may foul up something else you’re working on. Nobody’s going to give a shit. Get in my way and I’ll put you down, whether you were pulling Sotos Bild’s strings or not.”

“I swear, Eddo,” Luis started again but then he saw Eddo’s face and stopped. They stared at each other until Luis blinked. He looked away and attempted a half smile. “It just fucking never ends, does it?”

Risk. Power. Corruption. Cartels. And Relationships.

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