Saturday, 4th February 2023 - 2:17:15 am

The next day there was an explosion in the engine room of a yacht as it was entering Newport Bay. The boat sank in shallow water. Divers found several million dollars in cocaine on board.

One of the divers reported that the hole in the side of the engine room was bent in as though the boat had been hit by a shell from outside. The harbor police ignored that item. They weren't interested in looking too closely at the incident.

"Water pressure would bend it in," the chief said. "The pressure of all that water flowing in from the outside."

The drug ring received a simple message. "It will be better to pay," the note said.

But it wasn't easy to do that. The ring didn't have a single head. No two people could agree on what to do. And there were important interests outside the area to consult.

A week later, in the middle of the night, the drug ring was hit with the most devastating blow of all. The front door of a "hard house" was blown in by some sort of a rocket propelled projectile. The door had been made of steel plate and could withstand anything except a direct hit from an armor piercing shell, like the one that hit it.

About the time of the attack, or perhaps before, the police and fire departments had been notified by an anonymous caller. The police collected hundreds of thousands in cash and drugs and arrested everyone in the house, all the time happily realizing that there was no need for a search warrant since they were on a crime scene.

The police chief went on television the next day. He wanted to dispel rumors that the police had anything to do with the initial assault on the building. He assured the populace that vigilantism would not be tolerated in the city and that everything would be done to find and punish the culprits.

There was a rumor that he had privately assured his subordinates that he would have the head of any officer arresting one of there vigilantes.

Again the drug ring was sent a message. It was the same: "It will be better to pay."

This time there was little disagreement among those in the drug ring. A fact of life had been brought home to them. People with possessions are fair game for those without. It had been so since before the time of the barbarians. The drug ring was virtually defenseless against this kind of assault.

What could they do? Ask for police protection? They needed time to figure out how to deal with this gang. To gain time, they must pay. There was no question about that.

Along with the instructions on how to make the first payment came this message:

"If any of my people catch cold, if any of my people get into a traffic accident, if any of my people get hurt in any way, you will be hit. You will he hit in a way that will cost you more than a year of these payments you are making. These payments are peanuts. You know it and I know it. It will be better to pay."

The first drop was arranged to take place in a busy Vietnamese restaurant in Santa Ana. The package was put on back table and the courier left. A small effort was made to see who picked it up but it was and all Asian neighborhood. The watching round eyes were easily spotted and had to leave.

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