Angel Dance Sample






August 4, 2011
5:00 a.m.

DEA SPECIAL AGENT Regis Jackson leaned against a ponderosa pine and took three long, deep breaths. At six feet—two inches and one hundred ninety pounds, the thirty-two-year-old Jackson was in excellent physical condition—he wasn’t winded. He’d found over the years, though, that it helped to periodically take a deliberate meditative pause, even if just for a few seconds. The benefits were as much mental as physical: it helped to sharpen his con¬centration while slowing down his heart rate and relaxing his legs, hands, and arms.

Jackson and his twenty-man team of heavily armed and camouflaged DEA agents, Yakima Tribal Police, and Yakima sheriff’s deputies had been hiking for nearly two hours in the dark, early morning. The slope was modest, but the terrain was rough in the far northwest corner of the Yakima Indian Reservation, forty miles southeast of Mount Rainier in Central Washington. The darkness and the need for absolute stealth added to the physical challenge. Now, as the sky began to turn from dark gray to pink in the east, the team members had reached their objective and were moving into their final assault positions.

In the clearing beneath Jackson fifty meters away, barely visible in the dim light, lay a large marijuana plantation known as a “grow” in law enforcement circles. He peered through the dim light until he was able to identify the approximate boundaries of the grow. It looked to him like the Intel report from yesterday’s flyover was correct—the grow was about fifteen acres, probably something on the order of five thousand marijuana plants. He studied the field carefully for a few seconds. The plants were scattered in a random pattern to make them more difficult to spot from the air. They were tall—maybe six feet. Another three weeks or so and they’d be ready for harvest. Gonna’ be a bitch to cut ’em down, he thought. He could just make out the flexible PVC piping snaking through the field that the growers had installed to provide stream water to the plants.

“Unit Two—update?” He spoke quietly into his headset. Unit Two was a two-man scout team led by Jackson’s second-in-command and good friend, Special Agent Mike Hamilton. Unit Two, in position on the opposite side of the grow, had made the hike on their own three hours before Jackson’s assault team. Hamilton and his team member were specially trained to locate and neutralize guard dogs, sentries, and booby traps. They looked for land formations and vegetation patterns favorable to ambush, using their eyes—aided by night vision and infrared scopes, their ears and even their noses to help literally sniff out an ambush. The team had moved slowly as they’d carefully cleared the entire route.

Once they’d reached the objective, they’d scouted the entire perimeter of the grow and looked for traps and night-time sentries. Their advance report to Jackson had been quick and succinct—“No dogs, no traps, no sentries. Four gardeners, sound asleep.”

Four gardeners. In Jackson’s experience, the gardeners tended to be young illegal aliens sometimes with an older supervisor if the grow was big enough. Although they were young and they weren’t fighters, they were usually armed, and this made them potentially dangerous.

“Unit Two in position. No change in status.”

“Roger. By units starting with three, update,” Jackson whispered.

“Three’s ready.” Each of the remaining nine two-man units answered identically.

“Okay, guys,” Jackson replied. “Official sunrise is at zero five fifteen—” he glanced at his watch, then continued, “—fifteen min¬utes from now. We’ll go then. Get a few minutes of rest.”

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