Before you read this understand it’s part of a series, Part 1 and Part 2 should be read first to give this article much needed context. We spent the day following our failed patrol/observation post mission relaxing around camp pretty much being lazy, that night however we decided to push the envelope. We set out at zero dark thirty to a known trafficking route deep in the desert in full force. Our objective was to set up an “ambush” at a bottleneck in a large dried out creek bed as a blocking force, Ski and I volunteered to take part in this aspect of the plan. Another team would stage on a ridge overlooking it as overwatch for us, effectively creating an L-shape. We utilized our NVGs to roll up to our staging area maintaining light disciple among our vehicles and teams. Upon our arrival we could see lights coming down a hill in the direction our designated wash was connected to; jack pot!
We stepped off into the darkness headed to our objective, night time was the right time. I set up on the left edge of the wash in the prone paired with another guy and Ski covering our six, several meters behind us. The other guys on our team set up along the left side using trees for concealment. We waited, silently I scanned the bend in the wash and its tree-line with my NVGs for any sign of movement straining my ears for the slightest sound; nothing. We waited like that for a good 3 hours not experiencing the slightest sign of cartel traffickers at our location.
Finally the decision was made by our team leader at the time to patrol up the wash and see if we could make contact, after walking a good 500 yards he decided to turn us around not wanting to stray too far from the rest of the teams. We got back to our vehicle staging area and discovered J had been asleep in his vehicle the whole time while the team on overwatch had been taking selfies with the flash on. Obviously the cartel runners had turned around and headed back the way they came, probably to an alternate route; we could see their flashlights traveling back up the hill in the distance about 5k out from us. We head back and the ‘leaders’ get us lost until some fat ass wannabe with a GPS retraces his logged path; Ski and I are fed up.
The next day as we sat around camp you’ll never guess who showed up to kick us out after a lone scout vehicle drove by our camp early the same morning. The Bureau of Land Management sent three pick-up patrol vehicles of agents armed to the teeth accompanied by a helicopter carrying a sniper. They politely informed J that while we weren’t breaking any laws, they would like us to vacate the premises. Now if you remember in Part 1 I wrote about how J claimed he had close ties to border patrol, (prior to the operation we were informed we would be working alongside them) and now it had become very apparent that none of this was the case. I blame myself, I was young and naive; regardless Ski and I did our part for our short time on the ground despite the reoccurring hindrances.
Our local contact informed us we could stage at his trailer park residence several miles away for the night so we could head home in the morning. The group “leadership” agreed and we set off in that direction with a slight sense of urgency, not wanting to piss of the federal government too much.
We rolled through the front gate of the trailer park following our contact, a meth-head on a tricycle was doing circles near the entrance, all manner of societal rejects could be seen roaming the premises looking at us curiously. We parked next to our contact’s trailer and dismounted, he advised us to remove our kit as not to scare the inhabitants of the community; i did but decided to hang on to my rifle, this place didn’t feel right. As i was staging my kit a guy on an ATV rode by and stopped to say, “That sure is a nice dog. Is it a German Shepherd?” in the creepiest voice you can think of. I walked away to the other side of our truck and left Ski to talk to him; not today.
Our contact started getting drunk, excellent right? Oh and I managed to sprain my ankle at some point. Well it started getting dark and by then our “friend” was quite intoxicated, at this point a pair of grotesquely overweight woman came over to engage him in conversation. To cut a long story short this turned into an argument and it was revealed that one of the woman had a boyfriend who was a cartel member; It was time to exfil and fast. We kitted up and set a perimeter as we loaded up vehicles for the long haul back home as fast as we could. This was about the moment where I realized that this whole ‘operation’ was a shit show joke. We got out of there and didn’t look back; shortly thereafter we cut ties with the members of that group of wannabes. A valuable lesson was learned from this whole experience… I’m still not quite sure what that is but i’m sure there’s one in there somewhere. Maybe it’s: don’t take missions from strangers?