The Free Prequel Just for You!

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Nightfire! is the short story prequel to the novel, Corvette Nightfire, which is the second volume of The Z Redemption Trilogy. This 9,000 word short story explains the mystery of Día and Luna, the Tarahumara natives who were Corvette’s grandparents. Inhabitants of the Copper Canyon in northern Mexico, Día and Luna, married while teenagers, became seduced and then enslaved by the Mexican drug-cartel men who invaded the mountains of their homeland to grow poppy and marijuana. The Tarahumara natives were famous world-wide for their ability to run for days in the mountains and steep canyons of their lands in Chihuahua, Mexico. The drug cartels forced many of the young Indian men and women to give up their lands and to run their marijuana through the desert and across the border to the United States.

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Written in the fast-paced style of the novels of The Z Redemption trilogy, Nightfire! is a stand-alone short story that also provides enriching detail to the second volume in the series (Corvette Nightfire). Día’s plan to escape the drug cartel gets complicated by the birth of his son, Rogelio, in Texas in 1963. Moving and suspenseful, the story describes what Rogelio failed to find out about his parents when, as an adult, he made trips to Mexico to try to find them. It wasn’t until Rogelio’s son, Corvette, made a trip to the Copper Canyon in northern Mexico that the impact on the grandson’s destiny by the actions of Día and Luna began to be understood!

Download your FREE copy from Smashwords in any format for e-Readers, tablets, computers and phones simply by clicking the cover photo here!

Secret Report: Mexican Drug Kingpin El Chapo Guzmán Used 747 Jets, Submarines, To Flood U.S. With Drugs

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Joaquin “El Chapo” (Shorty) Guzman, the incarcerated and still powerful head of Mexico’s Cartel of Sinaloa

Secret Report: Mexican Drug Kingpin El Chapo Guzmán Used 747 Jets, Submarines, To Flood U.S. With Drugs.

Forbes Magazine: 11/24/2014 Article by Dolia Estevez. Drawing by Angelica Pettingell

Mexican drug lord Joaquín El Chapo Guzmán used his personal fleet of Boeing 747 jets, speedboats, amphibious vessels submarines, tractor trailers and freight trains to ship tons of illegal drugs from South America to Mexico and then to major U.S. cities, a secret testimony filed in U.S. District Court in Chicago early this month reveals.

The previously sealed statement by Chicago drug-dealing twin brothers Margarito and Pedro Flores gives the first inside look into El Chapo’s extraordinary logistical capabilities and lucrative, well-organized network that adhered to strict operational rules set by Guzmán.

Before he was hunted down by a joint U.S-Mexico law enforcement operation in his home state of Sinaloa in February, Guzmán had successfully avoided being caught for 13 years by paying bribes and having a broad network of corrupt law enforcement officials on his payroll. Guzmán ran the Sinaloa Cartel, a multibillion-dollar criminal organization, which despite his incarceration continues to be the number one supplier of illegal drugs in the U.S.

According to the 20-page partially-redacted testimony by the brothers, key witnesses in the $1 billion drug conspiracy to bring narcotics to Chicago and other cities, Guzmán had “multiple 747 aircrafts” with all the seats removed that he used to transport cocaine from Central and South America to Mexico disguised as humanitarian aid.

“Chapo would arrange to have shipment of clothing sent to Central America as part of a humanitarian aid project. Once the planes landed in Central America, the clothing was offloaded and up to 13 tons of cocaine was loaded onto the plane for the return to Mexico,” the document says.

The planes landed in Mexico City’s International Airport where the cocaine was unloaded and driven out with the help of corrupt Mexican authorities described in the statement as El Chapo’s “contacts.”

The brothers have been in witness protection for more than five years in what has been called the most significant drug case in Chicago’s history. Their collaboration with prosecutors has so far resulted in charges against 13 defendants, including Guzmán himself.

Their testimony, dated June 4 2009, was unsealed in advance of this week’s sentencing of Alfredo Vásquez-Hernández, whom prosecutors allege was a lifelong friend of Guzmán, his international logistics chief, and the godfather to his son, Alfredillo. On Monday, Chief U.S. District Judge in Chicago Ruben Castillo sentenced Vásquez-Hernández to 22 years in prison. Vásquez-Hernández–who was extradited to face charges in 2012–was the Flores’ main contact in the Sinaloa Cartel. Known as “Alfredo Compadre,” he made arrangement for transporting both cocaine and cocaine proceeds.

The brothers admitted they used Chicago as a distribution hub for shipping Guzmán’s drugs to 30 wholesale customers in New York, Washington D.C., Philadelphia, Cincinnati, Columbus, Detroit, Los Angeles and Vancouver. They said their network expanded over a decade and at its peak sold up to two tons of cocaine a month in Chicago alone.

“On behalf of Chapo… Alfredo (Vásquez-Hernández) … was involved in the transportation of cocaine from Colombia to Mexico in submarines and ‘submergibles,’ or semi-submersible vessels… and facilitated the transportation of cocaine in rail cars,” they testified.

By 2007 they were moving almost all of the cocaine that was distributed in “semi-trucks and trailers with trap compartments in the roof.” The brothers said they invested in the submarines with Vásquez-Hernández, and paid him $600,000 to set up a furniture company that they used as a front for importing drugs into Chicago in the walls of rail cars and trucks.

Signed by Pedro Flores on behalf of both brothers, the testimony says that Vázquez-Hernández also handled the logistics of transporting large shipments of bulk currency from drug proceeds, including the transportation of payments made to El Chapo by his customers and payments made by El Chapo to his sources of supply.

For the first time since 2009, Mexican drug lord Joaquín El Chapo Guzmán is out of Forbes’ list of The World’s Most Powerful People. He is currently in a high-security prison near Mexico City. Despite multiple indictments against him in the U.S., the Mexican government says there are no plans to extradite him.

A drug cartel guide to laundering millions — Fusion

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Can anyone explain who are the worst criminals? The big banking systems or the drug cartels or organized crime? If the fines to the banks are in the BILLIONS of dollars and their stock goes up after the news is released that the banks are complicit in money laundering, what does this say about the big investors in those banks? Obviously, they are happy that the systems are in place to hide their money! The basic problem here is that much of this money is covered in blood and heartbreak. Most people do not want to think about that at all.

A drug cartel guide to laundering millions — Fusion.

Let’s Protect Those Who Protect Our Freedom!

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Journalism and Security in Mexico

written by

Diana Villiers Negroponte
Freedom House Trustee


In late August, six Mexican journalists and a few colleagues from Freedom House gathered around the table at the Universidad Iberoamericana in Torreón, State of Coahuila, to discuss their freedoms to write and express their opinions. Since 2008, these rights have been seriously limited. The infiltration of organized crime in security and justice institutions, mostly at the local level; the militarization of public security; and the virtual collapse of the justice system are largely to blame for this. Mexico is now one of the world’s most dangerous and complicated places to practice journalism.

The journalists spoke of fear in doing their work as crime reporters. They had received frequent threats from one or another of the competing drug cartels, gangsters, and the authorities. In February 2013, three of their colleagues from the newspaper El Siglo de Torreón had been kidnapped. They were later released unharmed, but all at last month’s gathering were aware that the same could happen to them. Facing this threat, the journalists sought training in security measures and the support of media proprietors.

National outlets with regional correspondents and some regional newspapers had the resources to train their staff, but journalists working with community radio stations and freelancing were left alone to face the threats. Dead animals were left at their doorsteps, their cars were painted, or verbal abuse was hurled through their cell phones. The latest report by Freedom House on press freedom in Mexico states that 76 journalists were murdered between 2000 and 2013, and an additional 16 have disappeared since 2003.

In the face of intimidation, several journalists sought a transfer from the crime beat to less controversial sections of the newspaper, such as culture and sports. However, braver souls continued to cover crime, removing all identification that would expose them as journalists. They consulted Article 19, the London-based international organization for the protection of journalists. They formed networks to share experiences with others. Meanwhile, many editors took assassinations off the front page and printed little more than the police bulletin in the lower corners of inside pages. They restricted their coverage to the minimum to give the impression that security had improved.

This tactic, intended to protect both journalists and editors, infuriated readers, who complained that newspapers were hiding information. At our university meeting, the editorial coordinator for El Siglo de Torreón admitted that he received strong criticism, saying, “The paper was meant to be a defender of people, but it no longer defends anyone.”

Proprietors are shaken by threats to their journalists, but have so far done little to protect them. Apart from an attack on the publisher of the national newspaper La Reforma, there are no published assaults against media proprietors. Instead, it is investigative reporters who bear the brunt of attacks. On August 11, Octavio Rojas, a crime reporter at the newspaper El Buen Tono, was murdered outside his house in Oaxaca. His report on the local police’s confiscation of 16,000 litres of stolen fuel, found in three trucks belonging to the municipal police chief, had been published 48 hours earlier. According to Article 19, Oaxaca is the third worst state in Mexico for attacks on journalists, with 139 assaults between January 1, 2007, and the first quarter of 2014. Mexico City’s Federal District is considered the most dangerous state for journalists, followed by Veracruz.

In 2011, the government of President Felipe Calderón introduced far-reaching constitutional reforms to protect human rights by incorporating international treaties and standards into Mexican law. Current president Enrique Peña Nieto’s Pacto por México also contained a robust chapter on the legislation required to make constitutional safeguards a reality. A growing awareness exists in Mexico of the need to protect human rights, including the rights of journalists. But there is serious resistance and considerable reluctance to enforce such legal provisions, especially from the security and justice sectors.

In pursuit of its legal obligations, the Mexican interior ministry, known as SEGOB, is currently creating a federal protection program for journalists and human rights defenders. A journalist whose complaint of harassment is brought before SEGOB can obtain federal protection. However, his or her capacity to carry on as a journalist with that police protection is dubious. One senior writer expressed the general sentiment when he regretted that federal protection was a ticket to retirement.

What is the solution? First, journalists in Mexico recognize their need to become more professional. The years of payments for favorable stories have led to bullets for unfavorable press. Pride in the profession and recognition that a functioning democracy needs independent, truthful journalists must be stressed. Journalists should not belong to anyone: corporate interests, real-estate managers, federal and local authorities, or criminal enterprises. The old dependence on private and government support has resulted in vulnerability to the current power brokers, namely the cartels that ship illegal drugs to the United States.

Second, the federal government, in respecting its constitutional reforms and international obligations, must defend journalists as citizens and protectors against the abuse of power. The Mexican government needs independent-minded reporters to investigate corruption so that the newly formed Anti-Corruption Commission can do its work. Also, SEGOB needs to make its mechanism for protecting journalists and human rights defenders both credible and effective. The new mechanism may lead some journalists into retirement, but that is preferable to the graveyard.

Finally, journalists must support one another. They should increase collaboration with professional associations and civil society to provide technical assistance on how to confront the major obstacles facing their profession. They should not retreat from dangerous stories, because citizens depend on journalists to investigate events, dig out corruption, reveal scandals, and report accurately on murders, kidnappings, rapes, and robberies in their communities. Silencing crime stories will not make the criminals go away. Furthermore, in the absence of responsibly investigated stories, citizens will rely on rumors—a far more inflammatory form of news.

To facilitate mutual support among journalists, a new website, Journalists at Risk—with an interactive crowdsourcing map to both identify sites and register assaults against journalists—is being created. (An initial version is available atPeriodistasenriesgo.crowdmap.com.) Journalists can post their own stories, which are then verified by the website’s editor, Javier Garza. Bloggers, photographers, and journalists are reporting assaults and forming a professional network. Journalists at Risk also provides legal advice, security protocols, and links to international organizations that are committed to protecting the right to voice political, cultural, social, and economic opinions and dissent. This type of network is well placed to protect journalists and give them the confidence to continue investigative reporting into crime and corruption, as well as to provide useful professional knowledge.

In addition, the International Center for Journalists holds annual workshops with journalists and editors to impart skills related to investigative reporting, security protocols, cybersecurity, and mobile and digital journalism in order to build their professional capacities. This autumn, a virtual workshop will take place over five weeks for journalists from Mexico and other Latin American nations. The purpose is to create an atmosphere in which journalists can work and democracy can strengthen.

Mexico has much to accomplish in its transition to a democratic society. It is strengthening its rule of law, building credible police forces at the federal level, and creating independent regulatory commissions to check abuse and assure transparency. Journalists can participate effectively in this transition by working together and adhering to their own professional responsibility to report the truth, but the state can also do more to keep them safe.

Diana Villiers Negroponte is a trustee of Freedom House and a member of the Board of Advisors at the Mexico Institute, Woodrow Wilson International Center for Scholars.

Photo Credit: Gabriel Saldana

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Trivia from The Z Redemption Trilogy

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Robert Selfe, the editor of the books in The Z Redemption Trilogy, has written an interesting article of trivia about the writing of the novels. In the near future I will post the entire piece on the author website. I think the growing number of readers of these two (eventually three) novels will very much enjoy Robert’s notations. Here is a brief excerpt:

“When The Z Redemption was finished, it was too long, so several chapters were shortened and combined. One chapter was left out of the book but posted on line as “Awakening from the Golden Sleep.”

Originally, the second novel was supposed to be a prequel, and Robert had begun research on Pablo Escobar, the Columbian drug lord. Escobar, like David, was born in 1949, and the novel was intended to parallel the life and career of these two men. After a few months, Robert asked for a new direction for the sequel because the story of David’s descent into a dark place was just too depressing. 

Daniel came up with an alternate story. He envisioned a character named Corvette Nightfire walking into a casino just as a beautiful woman comes running out and, after shoving a duffle bag into his arms, runs off. That’s all there was. The rest of the story grew from there….”

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Excerpts From Reviews of “Corvette Nightfire!”

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“”Corvette Nightfire’ quickly establishes that this book is as likely to break your heart as it is to send it racing…A fabulous read, ‘Corvette Nightfire’ is high stakes and fast paced all around and the reader is all the better for having taken the ride!”  (Paige Mitchell, Goodreads reviewer).

https://www.goodreads.com/review/show/918650971?book_show_action=false&page=1

“To say this is a fast-paced thriller would be an understatement, it’s a book that grabs you from the very first paragraph, buckles you into the passenger seat and doesn’t let you out until the ride is over.  Not only is this a great story, it is full of interesting details surrounding the Mexican culture, which the Authors manage to integrate into the plot seamlessly.  Tightly written and right on track every step of the way, this is a book that will leave you breathless to the very end.”  (Cate Agosta, Reviewer and Blogger, Cate’s Book Nut Hut, September 8, 2014) 

http://catesbooknuthut.com/2014/09/08/

“A triumph…The settings, the language and the depiction of both professional gambling and life inside a cartel all feel authentic. Wetta’s first book was more about the struggle in Mexico against drug cartels. This book continues that theme, but adds new protagonists, a new setting and a vivid love story. I highly recommend this compelling thriller.”  (Nancy Stancill, author of “Saving Texas”).

https://www.goodreads.com/review/show/954358296?book_show_action=false&page=1

“Fast-Paced Suspense Novel with Romance, Drug Cartels, and Plenty of Action.”  (E.Lucas, Amazon Top 1000 Reviewer).

“Great read!…The action was so fast-paced and well-built that I had to read the novel in one sitting.”  (Oana Ilasi, Amazon reviewer).

“Fascinating read that makes you keep turning the pages! This book will challenge you to think about what will happen next and wonder who is going to come out on top.”  (K.R., Amazon reviewer).

http://www.amazon.com/Corvette-Nightfire-Z-Redemption-Trilogy-ebook/product-reviews/B00JIX3PBQ/ref=sr_1_1_cm_cr_acr_img?ie=UTF8&showViewpoints=1

Celebrating publication of the print edition of Corvette Nightfire, I encourage readers who enjoy suspense, romance, strong characterization, and a gripping style of story-telling to consider reading my second novel written with Robert Selfe.  Please click the photo link below for more information about this exciting novel in both print and e-book:

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Corvette Nightfire Paperback Now At Barnes&Noble!

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Image Great news! Now, in addition to Amazon.com and Createspace.com, you can purchase the paperback edition of Corvette Nightfire at Barnes and Noble online! This novel is garnering great reviews on Amazon and Goodreads already! (Here is the Goodreads link: https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/21859138-corvette-nightfire.)

Recently released, Corvette Nightfire is the second book of The Z Redemption Trilogy. It stands on its own as a back-against-the-seat read, however.  The editor of the novels, Robert Selfe, helped write the scenes at the World Series of Poker. An excellent poker player himself, Robert lent wonderful credibility to these nail-biting sections of the novel.

I am very excited to announce that I have been working with the talented Michael Messina  of http://jacketcat.com/ to come up with a new jacket cover for The Z Redemption to commemorate its release in just a couple more weeks as a paperback edition also! Michael is producing the jacket covers for the complete trilogy. So look for The Z Redemption in paperback as well!

To take a look at the Corvette Nightfire page at Barnes and Noble, simply click on this icon:

ImageThis book needs readers and reviewers like you! Climb in and take the ride!

While you are here, click the Facebook “Like” icon on the left and the “Follow” button so I can keep you up to date on our literary adventures!