Genre: Historical Fiction based on historical records
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Synopsis: The Wolves of Calabria is the follow up to Operation Underworld picking up a year and a half later just prior to the invasion of Sicily by the Allied Forces. This story relates the invasion and how the stage was set for the establishment of what would come to be called the International Drug Cartel.
From February of 1942, when the U.S. Navy believed German saboteurs had invaded the New York City waterfront to turning over control of the docks to the Mafia leaders the story progresses to just after the war when Charlie Luciano, Meyer Lansky and others establish the post war drug trade. Once again featuring Doc McKeowen and Louie Mancino, this time on the trail of the first major drug shipment to enter the U.S. in 1945,
In the second installation of the Operation Underworld trilogy The Wolves of Calabria traces the establishment of what we now know as the International Drug Cartel at the end of the Second War to the realization by the political elite in D. C. that they too have the opportunity to become wildly wealthy by pretending to want to eliminate the drug dealers.
From the Novel:
Jimmy Dugan was an ex-hot shot scout pilot from the Eighth Army Air Corps. He earned the moniker ‘Cat Man’ after he was shot down for the third time and evaded capture. The third time may have been a charm, but the fourth time was nothing short of a miracle.
When he crash landed behind his own lines they counted 96 holes in what wasn’t left of his Curtiss Seagull aircraft. 99 if you counted the holes in him. He was recommended for the highest honor the Air Corps could offer for chucking hand grenades out the window onto FLAK positions the fighters couldn’t get low enough to hit, and thereby helping to save a squadron of very expensive aircraft. Oh yeah, and some lives too. He also got his picture plastered all over the papers back home but his mom, dad and future ex-fiancée would never know his notoriety wasn’t due to his mad-cap heroics.
The morning of the mission, Jimmy was nailed running contraband out of Messina. Not just trinkets and tinned beef either. Class A drugs. Narcotics. Lots of ’em. Thanks to a tip off he ducked out of the barracks and on to the airfield two steps ahead of the M. P.’s and since his flight plan had already been filed was able to put about ten thousand feet between himself and the Mickey Mouse Patrol in a matter of minutes. He joined up with his squadron a half hour later and since the order for him to return to base was conveniently garbled in transmission, and he wasn’t sure what the hell else to do, he ran the mission.
While he was airborne it occurred to the slightly over ambitious young man that returning alive meant one of two things. Life in a military stockade at the mercy of merciless goons or a bullet in the head from a bunch of pissed off Sicilians who wouldn’t believe the truth. Namely that Army Intel was tipped off about the shipment, plain and simple. So after running the mission, returning home and spreading his aircraft over half mile of airfield while being observed by Curtis J. LeMay’s personal Aide de Camp, who always made it a point to be in the tower to “Welcum da boys home!”, and who hadn’t yet been briefed on Lt. Dugan’s impropriety, Jimmy got heself an Air Medal, a way out of his jam, some major headlines and a ticket home.
Mysteriously the three cases of morphine, two cases of pharmaceutical grade coke and four cases of chloral hydrate were never found.
Now that the war was over, like so many other ex-G. I.’s Jimmy couldn’t quite make it on the $27.50 a month handout Uncle Sam was rewarding him with for risking his life for four years to rid the world of Fascism and so was putting his U. S. Government acquired skills to work in other ways.
Air routes to run illegal drugs into America had been planned before the war largely utilizing routes from the good old days of Prohibition when a bunch of do-gooder Christians tried to rid the world of the demon rum but only wound up giving organized crime a boost up the ladder. Now new routes, well established by 1945, currently ran from Greece Turkey and Yugoslavia, through Sicily into Marseilles and on to Florida, Philadelphia, New York and New England.
As the first island of the Florida Keys slowly crept over the horizon Jimmy downed the last of his flask in relief and checked his altimeter.