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Patrick Weill

Bad Traffic
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Book 2
Bad Traffic

Nayeli Sanchez is a Mexican girl on the verge of womanhood who makes a brave but foolish decision. Driven by her determination to save her family, she is lured into the sex trade by a nasty gang of human traffickers that smuggles her into the United States.

Enter Murci, Nayeli’s furious older brother, who hops on his motorcycle and roars up to California to rescue her. There he works with police detectives Jeff Walker and Tony Park of the San Diego Human Trafficking Task Force, but an elusive traitor feeds the details of their investigation to the Hondurans running the prostitution ring.

The plot thickens as the Cartel del Norte, the Hondurans’ Mexican rivals, throw their own plans into the mix, catching Park’s and Walker’s families in a deadly crossfire, and the action concludes with a battle royale in a bomb-rigged casino involving multiple SWAT teams and the two warring gangs.

With breathtaking international locales, a well-rounded cast of characters on both sides of the law, and a fleet of high-performance cars and bikes, this second installment of The Park and Walker Action Thriller Series promises and delivers a mind-blowing ride!

 

What readers are saying:

“Definitely a story that I became invested in very early. The author doesn't get bogged down in unnecessary details, but provides those that are important. There are a lot of characters to follow and I would have liked to see some of them developed a little more, but I'm hopeful some of that will come in other books. Overall, it's a story that is relevant to today and is well told with a well thought out plot and great action.”

~ Rob Douglas
⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️

“The boys are back again and this time they are following a ruthless gang that traffic young and vulnerable girls. But Tony Park and Jeff Walker are fighting their own demons. Can they overcome their own personal problems to fight back? This is the second book in the series and it doesn't disappoint. Completely action packed from the start to the end. The characters have been brilliantly written and I'm so looking forward to the next installment.”

~ Allison Valentine
⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️

“When Nayeli is taken from Mexico by human traffickers, her brother Murci is her only hope. Bad Traffic by Patrick Weill is an action-packed thriller that shines an ugly spotlight on human trafficking. As Murci searches for his sister in the US, a Human Trafficking Task Force also joins the hunt. Add in cartels fighting each other for control of the ‘trade’ and crooked cops, author Weill has many pieces in play headed for a big showdown. The emotional/physical pain of the trafficked victims is well done and the action is intense (and maybe a tad over the top, which isn't necessarily bad). This is Book #2 of the Park and Walker series (I haven’t read #1, yet) but I found it easy to catch up with the characters. Weill has a hit on his hands.” 

~ Steve Lepper, Military Thriller Book Group
⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️

CHAPTER 1

THE LONG JOURNEY NORTH

 

As Nayeli Sanchez labored in her family’s cornfield, the Mexican sun beat down on her back with relentless cruelty. Fortunately, her body was conditioned to and adapted for such treatment. Unfortunately, the girl’s tolerance for emotional distress was not developed enough to endure the mental suffering that had been weighing so heavily upon her for such an unnaturally long period of time. In other words, Nayeli was about to snap.

“You can do it, sister. Another half hour and we’ll eat,” her older brother Murci said in Spanish. He had just returned from the United States with jagged, knotted scars on his hands and face and had thus far refused to tell her how he’d gotten them, nor would he share any other details about his two-year stay. In the end, it didn’t matter. Nayeli was beyond glad for his return, even if it meant a serious problem for her and the rest of the family.

Murci drove his digging stick into the drought-hardened soil so it stood up on its own, left it there, and came up behind her to knead out the tension in her neck and shoulders. Nayeli was relieved by the back rub, but her brother’s pep talk had been of little consolation. She didn’t need him to tell her she could handle another half hour of work. After all, she alone had tended to the small, heavily mortgaged plot of land for as long as he’d been gone! And at the moment, she was too upset to care about lunch.

As soon as Nayeli got back to work, her approach to soil loosening went from reluctantly slow to desperately fast. Plunging her tool harder and harder into the crusty earth, she advanced along her designated row with wild abandon until she no longer could. Tears welled in her eyes as she took a knee and heaved for air.

Murci sat down beside her and pulled her into a hug. “Don’t give up,” he said, then let her go, and they sat for a while, in silence mostly, save for a few bird calls now and then. When Nayeli was ready, he helped her up and walked her home.

As she trudged along the dusty dirt road, Nayeli resolved—for the millionth time—to do as her brother had told her: not to give in to the overwhelming temptation to fall down the slippery slope of despair, which, ironically, was even steeper now that he was no longer sending dollars home. Don’t give up, he’d said, but isn’t that what he had done? If it had been me, she thought, I’d have stayed under any circumstances until I’d earned enough money to make a difference. A small, secret part of her wished he hadn’t come back.

They hiked past the old farmhouse, the one their father had built before they were born. The one in which they’d lived all their lives until only recently. Neither one turned to look at it. From that point to their current residence, Nayeli counted ten semi-feral dogs roaming the streets, anxiously searching for anything edible; without exception, the animals’ ribs were jutting out from under their skin like those of starving concentration camp prisoners.

 

***

 

“I went to the butcher shop today to see about some chicken, but Pablo had raised his prices again,” said Mamá at the main meal of the day, setting a cloth napkin folded around hot tortillas in the center of the table.

“It’s not the butcher’s fault,” replied Papá, whom Nayeli had helped from his bed to the wooden table. He had dark, sickly circles around his eyes and his voice came out in a breathless whisper. “It’s the…heartless…companies that control everything.”

“Everything including the government,” Murci added, rolling a tortilla in his palm and biting off a third of it. “Just like in the United States.”

“Just like everywhere,” said Nayeli. “I wish money had never been invented. What this planet needs is another meteor shower.”

“Did you go to the police station today, son?” Papá asked, as if he hadn’t heard her.

“Yes sir. Boot camp starts on Monday.”

“Good.” The farmer’s eyes came alive with pride.

Nayeli wished her father would look at her like that, and she wondered why her parents were about to spend the last of their money on Murci’s uniform, given the offensively low odds of his being selected for a paying job from among the vast ranks of volunteer officers.

“And you, honey?” Mamá asked, finally taking a seat after she had served everyone else. “How’s school?”

As Nayeli reached for another tortilla, she refused to wish that the diced cactus paddles she was about to scoop into it were rich and savory chunks of meat. Her gaze darted around their rented lodgings, falling on the dirt floor and the rusty iron sheets that served as a roof. “Everything’s fine, Mamá,” she replied, saying nothing of her overcrowded classroom, the absence of textbooks, the lack of running water at that state-sponsored institution, and—crucially—the risky appointment she’d scheduled for later that evening.

 

***

 

One good thing about Murci’s return to Mexico was that it allowed Nayeli to devote more of her energy to her studies. Just that morning, she’d found herself with free time between classes, so she’d strolled over to an announcement board and scanned the notices stapled there. In Spanish, one of them read as follows:

 

Seeking female students to work in the U.S. as housekeepers or nannies. Nine dollars per hour with free room and board. Study for your GED at night. College scholarships available.

 

College in the United States of America? From the little she’d learned in school and expanded upon through independent study on the internet, her English was passable already. A swift mental calculation told her nine dollars an hour with no expenses, over one or two years, would literally lift her family out of the mire. As Nayeli mulled over the pros and cons of this enticing opportunity, her thoughts trended back to a recent conversation in the cornfield.

“Gringolandia’s just not a good place,” Murci had snapped, squinting in the sun as he whirled around to face her. “It’s a rotten apple that only looks good from the outside.”

“Right,” she’d replied. “A rotten country where they pay twenty times what they do here.”

Her brother’s features hardened. “You don’t understand. It’s a dangerous place for people like us.”

“I’m almost fifteen. I understand more than you think I do.”

“Well, I’ve been there and you haven’t. End of discussion.”

Nayeli had turned her back on her brother, sure that hard manual labor or some other form of torture was the future that awaited her. Life in the U.S. can’t be as bad as Murci always says it is, she’d thought. In her view, he just wanted her to stay home so he could boss her around.

As she came out of her musings, the alluring flyer returned to front and center. She tore it off the announcement board, stuffed it in her bag, and strode off to find a phone.

 

***

 

The next day, when Murci awoke before dawn as usual, he looked across the room to see Nayeli’s bed still made, but he wasn’t worried. As far as he knew, she’d slept over at a friend’s house. Yet as the morning wore on, with no news from the family’s brightest star, Mamá grew so alarmed that she took the bus to Nayeli’s friend’s house and learned that she’d been lied to.

On his mother’s return, Murci searched Nayeli’s belongings for any clue to her whereabouts and found the flyer in her backpack. That’s when it dawned on him that his sister had gone in search of the money he was no longer sending home, and his fear and guilt emptied the contents of his stomach onto the floor.

His parents wanted to wait a day or two before contacting the police. Maybe the job offer was legitimate, they’d said. Maybe Nayeli would call or come back after changing her mind. But Murci knew better. He immediately called the number on the flyer and was told he’d dialed the wrong number, so then he asked a female friend to feign interest in the ad. She was given an appointment and directions to a house on a hill not far from where Murci lived. He knew which one it was. As a boy, he’d often gone up to “Beltran Manor,” usually on a dare to knock on the door to what was reputedly a haunted house.

As he came up the crest, the massive home loomed majestic, but on closer inspection, its peeling paint, rotting fences, and overgrown garden told a different story. After being invited in, Murci thrust the flyer in the Beltrans’ faces. “My sister’s missing, and I found this in her things!” he exclaimed. “Have you seen her?”

“No, we haven’t,” Mrs. Beltran replied, looking baffled as she read the advertisement, seemingly for the first time. “We haven’t had a visitor in a month.”

“Is that your phone number?”

“No,” Mr. Beltran broke in. “It’s Diego Lopez’s. He’s a friend of my cousin’s who needed a place to stay.”

Murci eyed Mrs. Beltran with suspicion. “No visitors except for Diego Lopez, you mean. I had a friend call that number. She was told to show up right here, right now. This Lopez wouldn’t be hiding in the next room, by any chance, would he?”

“I don’t know what else to tell you,” said Mr. Beltran. “He left a few hours ago. If you leave me your number, I’ll have him call you when he gets back.”

“Bullshit,” retorted Murci, strong and loud. His pulse leapt into overdrive as he held his neighbor’s gaze.

Mr. Beltran was not a small man. He stepped forward until their noses were an inch apart. “Get out of my house, boy!” he roared.

But Murci was not a boy. He whipped out a revolver from under his shirt and jabbed its muzzle into the fat man’s gut. “Back up, cabrón,” he hissed through clenched teeth. “Tell me where my sister is or I’ll shoot you right now.”

“They took her to San Diego,” Beltran whimpered. “That’s all I know, I swear to God.”

Minutes later, Murci was securing a duffel bag to the back of his motorcycle. Single-focused. Furious. Imagining how terrified Nayeli must have been at that very moment and all the things they might be doing to her. After inspecting his ride and topping it off with the gas can, he stalked into the house and headed for his parents’ room, where his father struggled to sit up in bed.

“I’ll bring her back, Papá. I swear.”

“I know you will, son. I believe in you.”

Murci placed his hand on his father’s shoulder, bowed his head, and begged God to keep his dad alive until he returned. If he returned. Then he stomped back outside to where his mother stood waiting beside his bike with open arms. She pulled him close, told him she loved him, gave him every peso in the family’s possession, and blessed his trip with the sign of the cross.

Murci swung a leg over the machine and fired it up. “I love you, too, Mamá,” he said over the grumbling engine. At her somber nod, he gave the throttle an aggressive twist and the two-wheeler leapt forward, roaring and snarling, matching his own rage as day turned into night on the long journey north. Whoever did this is going to hell, Murci vowed. And I’m going to send them there.

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