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Authors: Scott McEwen

Ghost Sniper

BOOK: Ghost Sniper
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This book is dedicated to the memory of the thirty Americans who lost their lives in Afghanistan on the mission Extortion 17, including seventeen members of SEAL Team VI. It was the most devastating loss of life in the history of the United States Navy SEAL teams. Some of these men were personal friends of mine. All of them were warriors and patriots of this nation.



Gil looked over at his best and often-reckless friend.

“So tell me about this girl.”

Crosswhite took a drag from a cigarette. “Not much to tell.”

“I know better than that. You moved to a communist country to be with her, for Christ sake.”

“It's actually not all that communist anymore—just dirt poor.”

They were crossing a storage lot on the outskirts of Paris, not far from the rail yard where Gil had had his first run-in with Chechen sniper Sasha Kovalenko.

“So you're not gonna tell me about her?”

“Well, she's a little younger than me.”

“How young?”


Gil whistled. “Twenty-one's a good age.”

“She wants to get married soon—have a baby.”

“You should do it,” Gil said, lighting a cigarette of his own. “Be good for you.”

“The idea of havin' a kid freaks me out. And what happens when
get yourself in another jam? Who's gonna save your ass?”

“Don't use me to try and wriggle out of it,” Gil said. “Besides, I was just in another jam. You were nowhere around.”

“Yeah, and you damn near died, from what I hear.”

“I damn near died the other two times.”

Crosswhite stopped and turned to face him. “Fuck is that supposed to mean?”

“Means I think you should get married and have a baby, dumb-ass.”

“Yeah,” Crosswhite said with a sigh. “Sure.” They set off walking again. “She's Catholic. I gotta start goin' to church on Sundays. I hate fuckin' church.”

“It ain't gonna kill ya. You'll have to stop with the drugs, too.”

“Already did. You talk to Marie lately?”

Gil became immediately sad at the mention of his wife. “She doesn't want me back until I'm out for good. And I just ain't ready to quit.”

“You know these young guys comin' up,” Crosswhite said. “They're faster, stronger, more dangerous than we are.”

“I know it, partner, but I ain't ready.”

They arrived at an orange overhead garage door with a big white number
stenciled on the front of it.

“So what the fuck do you suppose is gonna be in there?” Crosswhite wondered aloud. “A booby-trap?”

Gil tossed the cigarette to the ground and stepped on it. “I doubt it.”

“You're absolutely positive you don't wanna tell Pope about this first?”

“Yeah.” Gil stepped forward, inserted the key in the lock, and gave it a turn. The door went up automatically, and both men stood staring.

“You gotta be shittin' me,” Crosswhite said.

The phone in Gil's pocket rang.


“So what's behind door number nine?” Pope asked.

Gil glanced up at the sky, not at all surprised. “I think you'd better get on a plane and come have a look for yourself.”

of the CIA, arrived in Paris the next day, returning with Gil and Crosswhite to the storage unit.

Gil inserted the key into the electric lock, and the door rose slowly, revealing numerous ammo and weapons crates stacked at the back. What caught Pope's attention, however, was the wooden workbench against the wall with a large lump sitting on top of it covered with a green canvas tarp.

“The crates are full,” Gil remarked.

“What's under the tarp?” Pope asked.

Grinning, Crosswhite stepped in and pulled it back, revealing two hundred neatly stacked bars of shiny gold bullion. Each bar was stamped “1000g/999.9 Gold.” He watched Pope's eyes for any hint of shock or surprise, but there was none.

“How many bars?” Pope asked.

“Two hundred,” Gil replied.

Pope did the math in his head. “That's almost nine million dollars. Close the door and give me the key.”

Crosswhite shot a startled glance at Gil and then back at Pope. “What the hell are you talking about—
give you the key

Pope didn't reply.

“Come on out,” Gil said quietly.

“Hey, this puts us on easy street!” Crosswhite said. “Mission complete. Game over. Winner takes all!”

“This puts us
in business
,” Pope said, his blue eyes piercing. “Now close the door and give me the key.”

“Gil, what the fuck?”

Gil turned the key.

The door began to close, and Crosswhite stepped out quickly, incredulous. “Don't tell me you're down with this. You're gonna let him take all of it for himself?”

Gil took the key from the wall and handed it to Pope. “Let's go. We got a plane to catch.”




08:45 HOURS

Chance Vaught stood in the back hall of the US Embassy in Mexico City, talking with Bill Louis, US ambassador to Mexico. A former Green Beret with eight years of combat experience in Iraq and Afghanistan, Vaught was now working as a special agent with the US Diplomatic Security Service (DSS). Currently, he was the special agent in charge of security for Alice B. Downly, the director of the Office of National Drug Control Policy. The “drug czar.”

“So you're telling me we have to run the gauntlet between here and the Mexican senate building?” asked Vaught, thirty years old, with green eyes and a black goatee set in a Latin visage. “I thought the entire week was scheduled for here in the embassy. What the hell happened?”

“Between you and me?” Louis lowered his voice. “Downly offended the Mexican delegation yesterday—namely, Lazaro Serrano. First by suggesting they allow US Special Forces teams into Mexico to act as advisors in their war against the cartels, and then by implying the teams would operate independently—the same way our operatives did down in Colombia back in Pablo Escobar's day.”

Vaught rolled his eyes in disbelief. “Comparing Mexico to Colombia—very diplomatic.” He took a can of Copenhagen tobacco from the cargo pocket of his trousers and put a dip into his lower lip. He was sure that the security at the Mexican senate building—known in Mexico as La Casona de Xicoténcatl—would be tight, but he would have zero control there. Meetings held off US Embassy grounds were always cause for heightened anxiety, and it was a growing problem for the DSS all over the globe. After the Osama bin Laden–orchestrated terrorist attacks of September 11, 2001, billions of American dollars were spent fortifying US embassies, making them look more like super-max prisons than houses of diplomacy, and many foreign diplomats simply refused to meet in the blocky, fortresslike structures. This forced American diplomats to take meetings in less secure locations—like this morning, for example.

“It's only two miles.” Louis, a round man in his forties, bald, with pale blue eyes. He was fluent in Spanish and understood Mexican culture very well. “They're sending the usual federal escort—two trucks, four motorcycles—and with our three vehicles, that'll be plenty. It's only an eight-minute ride.”

Vaught had seen the world go to shit in eight minutes.

“I'll brief my people and get them ready to roll,” Vaught replied. His mother was from the state of Jalisco, so he had family in Mexico and grew up speaking the languages of both countries interchangeably. This had enabled him to form an immediate rapport with the ambassador. “I wonder what she plans on asking for today—our own airbase right here in DF?”

Louis chuckled as he turned away. “Avenida Reforma is the most direct route. I'll make sure the proper arrangements are made over at the senate building. Let me know if you need anything else.”

Vaught assembled the other nine agents of his security team in the motor pool behind the embassy. They were all handpicked, each one a former operator with Special Forces. All of them had seen extended tours of combat. “Here's the deal, guys. Downly managed to piss off the Mexican delegation yesterday, so today they want to meet at the Xicoténcatl a couple miles from here.” The name was pronounced “sh
-katl.” “That's the building where the Mexican senate meets, for those of you who don't
.” The others laughed. “They're sending the usual escort, so the run shouldn't take us more than eight minutes, but I want you guys max-attentive the entire way. Are we clear?”

There were a number of “Rogers!” and “Aye-ayes!” in response, depending on the agent's former branch of service, and they broke up to prep the transports: three black Chevy SUVs with bulletproof glass and doors.

Vaught took aside his number two man, an African American named Uriah Heen, also a former Green Beret. “I'm putting Sellers in the lead vehicle with the trio. Jackson and I'll be in the middle with Downly, her two aides, and Ambassador Louis. You'll bring up the rear with the other three, but make sure Bogart's behind the wheel. I want somebody who can drive covering our tail. Clear?”

Uriah gave him a nod. “Clear. How'd Downly screw up?”

Vaught spit tobacco juice onto the concrete, tired of swallowing it. “She suggested setting American A-Teams loose down here to fight the cartels. I guess it went over like a fart at a baptism.”

Uriah chuckled, rubbing the back of his shaved head. “Who'd she do to get this appointment?” Alice Downly was a highly educated, forty-year-old brunette with a photogenic face and an infectious smile, but she wasn't exactly known for her political acumen around the DC social scene. Her appointment to the office had surprised more than a few people in the know.

Vaught's face tightened. “Secure that shit while we're in-country.”

“Roger that.” Uriah got serious. “I'll get everybody dialed in.”

the American delegation loaded into the vehicles, and they were off. A Mexican Federal Police four-door pickup truck with four officers led the column, another truck brought up the rear, and two pairs of motorcycles leapfrogged from stoplight to stoplight, preventing civilian traffic from cutting through the caravan. The DSS men were dressed in khaki cargo pants, black North Face jackets, ball caps, tactical boots, and Oakley sunglasses. Each carried a concealed Phase-5 Tactical CQC pistol on a single-point bungee sling and a Glock 21 for backup. The CQC (close-quarters-combat) pistol was essentially a snubbed-down M4 carbine with a 7.5-inch barrel in .223 caliber. The buttstock had been removed, leaving only the buffer tube, which looked something like a padded broom handle that could be braced against the shoulder for greater control. Each weapon held a thirty-round magazine, and each DSS agent concealed an additional four magazines on his person by Velcroing them to his body armor—armor bolstered by 12-inch ceramic rifle plates front and back.

The column turned right, leaving the embassy grounds. They traveled southwest, briefly entering a large rotunda before turning right again to roll west. After making another right at the end of the block, they drove on a northerly heading for a quarter mile before making yet another right and driving two more blocks. Finally, they bore left around another large rotunda northward and onto the main avenue through Mexico City. The motorcycle cops were skilled at their jobs, herding the traffic away from the caravan much the way that horses could be used to herd cattle, and there was never a pause in the column's progress.

Vaught rode shotgun in the center vehicle, with Jackson, a former Navy SEAL, in the driver's seat and the four diplomats in the back. “Shit,” he muttered, watching the motorcycles bear to the right down a single narrow lane, “they're taking us down the lateral.” The
lateral lane ran parallel to the main avenue, separated by a raised median divider lined with trees, park benches, bus stops, and various concrete stanchions. The purpose of the lateral lane was to allow for traffic not traveling the entire distance of the avenue to turn off without hindering the flow of traffic along the main drag. Vaught didn't like to use the lateral on diplomatic runs because it left the column tightly hemmed in between the median divider on the left and the buildings on the right, with virtually no route of escape.

He activated his throat mike, talking over the radio net. “Look sharp, people. It's gonna be a little tight for the next half mile.” He glanced left at a city bus passing the column on the opposite side of the median divider, and the terrified eyes of the passengers alerted him that something was wrong. The hair raised on the back of his neck as he caught a glimpse of a figure in a black ski mask. Vaught swung his arm over the back of the seat. “Everybody down!” he shouted. “We're gonna be hit!”

Ambassador Louis grabbed Director Downly, pulling her toward the floor. Downly's aides, a man and a woman seated behind them, ducked down, with the woman muttering, “Oh my God!”

Vaught was in the midst of barking a warning over the radio when the big green-and-yellow bus swerved over the median divider, bashing aside a bench full of people, and slammed into the Federal Police truck at the head of the column, driving it through the front of an Oxxo convenient store. A rocket powered grenade streaked out of nowhere to strike the lead DSS vehicle in the driver's door, detonating with a horrible explosion that killed all four DSS agents instantly.

“Everybody dismount!”

Vaught jumped out even before Jackson had stopped the vehicle. He jerked open the back door and yanked Louis out by the collar, reaching back inside to grab Downly by the arm and hauling her out so abruptly that she didn't even have time to get her feet beneath her. She fell out onto the pavement as another RPG slammed into the driver's door and exploded. Vaught was thrown off his feet by the
blast and landed on his back. The SUV burst into flames. Downly's male aide managed to scrabble out with his clothes burning and face covered in blood, but the woman remained inside, already consumed by fire. There was virtually nothing left of Jackson but a set of mangled legs on the floorboard.

Vaught was on his feet in a second, his mind processing the scene with computerlike speed, seeing almost in slow motion the four DSS agents to the rear rapidly dismounting the passenger side of the third vehicle. Another RPG struck the unarmored Federal Police truck at the tail of the column, exploding the fuel tank and tearing apart the truck as the men inside were bailing out, killing them all.

Vaught instinctively traced the contrail of the rocket back along its trajectory. He swung up the CQC pistol and took a knee beside the burning Chevy, firing on three men taking cover near a white van parked on the far side of the avenue across seven lanes of traffic. The rocketeer went down, stitched from the groin up, and his two compatriots opened up with AK-47s.

Vaught rolled behind the burning vehicle as Uriah and the other three agents arrived to provide covering fire. Another fusillade erupted farther up the lane where the bus had slammed into the lead truck. Five masked gunmen were piling out of the back of the bus, and people were screaming everywhere, running for cover in all directions as the gunners fired wildly from the hip. Vaught was struck on his body armor and the upper left arm. He knew he had to get his diplomatic charges off the street, but there wasn't any time, and there wasn't anywhere to run if there had been. This was a point-blank shoot-out to the death.

Ears ringing, Uriah knelt beside him, and they poured on the fire, knocking two of the gunmen off their feet.

“Reloading!” Vaught dumped the empty magazine, pulling a fresh one from inside his jacket. Uriah dropped his own empty weapon to draw his Glock 21, firing into the remaining three gunners. Another went down, but not before Uriah took an AK-47 round to the chest plate and fell over backward.

Vaught brought the CQC pistol back up and cut down the remaining two men as they fumbled to reload. Uriah rolled to his feet and helped the other DSS men cover their diplomatic charges. With the storefronts along this block locked up behind metal gates, there was no place to seek shelter. The burning vehicles provided some cover, but there was the danger of further explosions.

Three masked motorcyclists zipped past, spraying them with 9 mm fire from Uzi automatic pistols. A DSS agent fell dead with a bullet through the brain. Another was struck in the legs. Downly's male aide crashed to the sidewalk, hit through the liver and spleen. He would bleed out in seconds.

Downly screamed and dropped to her knees beside the aide, covering her head with her hands. The bikes whipped back around in the now-empty street and made a second high-speed pass, spraying the scene again while the DSS men returned fire. Ambassador Louis and another DSS agent went down. Vaught ran out into the street to draw a careful bead on the last rider as they raced away, squeezing the trigger and knocking him off the bike with the last round in the magazine.

The four motorcycle cops suddenly reappeared, speeding past him in hot pursuit of the other two fleeing motorbikes.

“Where the fuck are the cops going?” Uriah screamed. “We need 'em here!”

“It's a goat fuck!” Vaught switched out the magazine as he came back from the street. “The whole thing's a goddamn setup! Help Bogart get Downly off the ground while I check on Clay. We gotta move!”

“To where?”

“Anywhere's better than here!”

Bogart's real name was Stevens, but he looked a lot like Humphrey Bogart, and he was having trouble getting Downly up with one arm, needing to keep the other arm free to shoot. The drug czar was completely petrified, refusing to carry her own weight and screaming hysterically with her hands pressed over her ears. Uriah grabbed her other arm, and they hauled her to her feet.

Vaught crouched beside Agent Clay, the DSS man hit in the legs. “Can you move under your own power?”

Clay shook his head, gripping his weapon, eyes searching everywhere, bleeding from both thighs and a knee. “The knee won't support my weight. We're in deep shit here, Chance. Why are all these fucking storefronts locked on a Tuesday?”

Vaught stated the obvious. “To keep us out here on the street.” He stood and pulled Clay up onto his better leg. By now, the remaining Chevy was also fully engulfed in flames, having been too close to the other burning vehicles. “Let's skirt around the bus and keep moving up the street until we find an open building. We should be hearing sirens any time now.”

“Why aren't we hearing them already?”

“They'll wait until they've gathered a large enough force to handle whatever the hell they think is going on down here.”

Just then Clay's body exploded, spattering Vaught with the soldier's blood and viscera. He staggered back as the cannon shot echoed up the avenue from down the block.

BOOK: Ghost Sniper
9.22Mb size Format: txt, pdf, ePub

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