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The Dealer

The Rise and Fall of Fred Brooks and How Drugs Get to Baltimore. Part Two.

Read Part One.

By Jeffrey Anderson | Posted 1/16/2008

The Orioles had lost another one, a 5-0 drubbing by the Red Sox and their ace Pedro Martinez, and the crowd from Camden Yards was spilling over to Hooters in the Inner Harbor as Fred Brooks sat down to discuss serious business with a Los Angeles drug-trafficking associate.

It was Sept. 10, 2003, and Laurencio Gonzalez, aka "Lalo," had flown to Baltimore from L.A. after discovering that a shipment from Brooks that was supposed to contain $1 million in cash was, in fact, empty.

The restaurant was frantic, Brooks later recalled for a federal jury in Baltimore in 2005-so frantic that drug task force agents seated at a table 10 feet away were worried the conversation would not come through clearly on the tiny microphone hidden in the pager on Brooks' belt.

Brooks had been through a lot in his rise as a Baltimore drug dealer: From the street corners of Remington he'd built an organization with more than 30 employees who dealt drugs in 17 countries; he'd lost friends and associates to the violence that ravaged the city; he'd been to federal prison, where he made contacts that propelled his trafficking enterprise to a $6-million-a-year business, less than two years after his release in 2000.

Though U.S. Customs agents had Brooks under surveillance since 2001 and were on the verge of wiretapping his phone, it seemed like dumb luck a month before the meeting at Hooters when a group of agents decided to have lunch one August day at the Chick-fil-A near Arundel Mills mall-just as Brooks and his brother Kelly were there, too. The Brooks brothers were hard to miss: two African-American men, each weighing more than 250 pounds, Fred with a white patch on his face, the result of vitiligo, a loss of pigmentation of the skin.

After agents followed them to their rooms at the nearby Hampton Inn and Suites, where they had been wholesaling kilos of cocaine for days, it was only a matter of time before the Brooks' lives were turned upside down.

Now, a month after being caught with 30 kilos of cocaine, large amounts of marijuana and heroin, close to $1 million in cash, and numerous tools of the trade-cutting agents, scales, strainers, and packaging materials-Fred Brooks was working for the government. (Kelly Brooks also was arrested in August 2003 and also cooperated as a government witness.)

Lalo, a representative of Tijuana's Arellano-Félix cartel, played it cool during the meeting at Hooters. He simply wanted assurance that Brooks was truthful in claiming ignorance about the missing money. Brooks was too good a distributor to lose. The Tijuana bosses had already decided they wanted to meet him in person, to see if he could be trusted with even more cocaine. During the meeting, Lalo placed a call on his cell phone and handed it to Brooks. At the 2005 trial for Lalo and an associate, Brooks testified that he spoke briefly with an older gentleman from Tijuana, who absolved him as well: "He asked me if everything happened the way I said it did. And I said, `Yes.' And he said `Everything will be OK.' And that's it."

Having squashed the disappearance of the large sum of money, the two men got back to discussing "another shipment of money [from Baltimore] and a possible continuation of sending cocaine from Los Angeles," Brooks told the jury.

The meeting concluded with Lalo asking Brooks for $5,000 as a show of good faith, so he and his associate, Jose Jesus Gutierrez, aka "Chuy," could relax in Baltimore for a few days. Brooks agreed, walked out of Hooters, and went back into custody. U.S. Customs agents sent an undercover agent to deliver the cash to Lalo, so he and Chuy could kick back for several hours at the Goddess Bar, a strip club on Eutaw Street in the shadow of the Bromo-Seltzer Tower.

That was the last Lalo, Chuy, or any of their associates-Jose Mendoza, aka "Chato," Raul Del Real, aka "Ra-Ra," or Victor Jimenes, aka "Picachu"-heard of Fred Brooks. That is, until a year later, when Los Angeles-based drug task force agents began arresting them as well.

Today, Lalo and Chuy are just into their 45- and 40-year prison sentences, respectively; Mendoza is doing 13 years; Del Real is sentenced to 15 years and is identified in court documents as a key witness in the upcoming RICO trial in federal court in Los Angeles of George Torres, one of L.A.'s most notorious alleged crime figures.

Meanwhile, Brooks sits in a federal prison cell serving a reduced 10-year sentence and wondering if he will make it out alive, having taken down such well-connected drug traffickers. "There are more Mexican gangs in this prison than you have fingers or toes," Brooks wrote City Paper in December. "Last week a guard was stabbed and a guy from D.C. was murdered."

On its own, Brooks' story is a compelling journey down the path of a Baltimore narcotics trafficker. Brooks' letters leave little doubt that he had a prolific drug-dealing career before he got hooked up with the Mexicans, and that his cooperation with the government did not end with testifying against them, either. Yet despite his substantial cooperation with the U.S. Attorney's Office, documented in multiple volumes of corroborated testimony before a federal jury in 2005, gaps remain.

For instance, it remains unclear exactly who groomed Fred Brooks for his rise from the streets of Remington to the center of an international narcotics network that, in his words, "consisted of 17 countries from England, Bermuda, the entire Caribbean, Colombia, Venezuela, and Mexico" ("The Dealer, Part 1," Feature, Jan. 9). It's also unclear exactly where the Brooks brothers fit in the pantheon of Baltimore's more infamous drug traffickers.

What is more certain is that with the arrest of Fred Brooks, U.S. drug enforcement and customs agents caught a break in a two-decades-old investigation of George Torres, the Los Angeles-based magnate of Numero Uno grocery markets, and the former business partner of Horacio "Carlos" Vignali, of President Clinton "Pardongate" fame. And that, with Brooks' cooperation, federal agents were able to take Raul Del Real, a close associate of Torres, off the street.

Torres is described in law enforcement documents as one of Southern California's largest drug traffickers of the 1980s and 1990s, and as an alleged former associate of the Arellano-Félix cartel. Though court papers filed by the U.S. Attorney's Office in Los Angeles concede that the government had never been able to establish enough evidence to charge Torres with drug trafficking, his association with Del Real and knowledge of Del Real's drug-dealing activities cannot be disputed, according to portions of wiretap transcripts on file in federal court in L.A.

Likewise, Del Real's violent nature is without question. In August 2002, he and an associate were caught with a half-million in cash, a loaded Smith and Wesson, and 40 pounds of marijuana, according to court documents. On Dec. 26, 2002, Del Real visited a suspected member of the Mexican Mafia named Armando "Pericho" Ochoa in Los Angeles County Jail, where a recorded conversation suggested both men, as rivals, had been involved with deadly disputes. A wiretapped call between Del Real and his sister in August 2003 has him pondering an incident in which he "broke a guy," a possible reference to murder, according to an affidavit by law enforcers listening to the call.

Del Real has told federal authorities that Torres enlisted him to seek violent revenge against his enemies on more than one occasion. In 1998, according to a federal indictment in Los Angeles, Torres asked Del Real to kill another drug dealer associated with Torres whom Torres believed had stolen $500,000 from one of his Numero Uno grocery stores. The associate, Ignacio Meza, has been missing since 1998 and is presumed dead.

Del Real's brother Albert, a drug addict, actually worked for Torres in the grocery business, as a warehouseman and a delivery man; both Albert and Raul Del Real were engaged in a drug conspiracy with Fred Brooks at the time Brooks was arrested in Baltimore in 2003. When the feds arrested Brooks, he implicated Raul Del Real, who then pleaded guilty and rolled on Torres.

In the end, Brooks represented more than the start of a chain reaction that has led to confessions and accusations on both coasts: He gave investigators-and a federal jury-a candid look into the multibillion-dollar drug connection between Baltimore and Los Angeles, including a detailed description of some of the many ways that drugs flow east from L.A., as the money flows west from Baltimore.

The nagging question that remains for local drug traffickers and others close to the dope trade is, what is Fred Brooks telling the authorities now?

Kelly Brooks was enjoying the famed Morgan State University choir at the Meyerhoff Symphony Hall one night in December 2002 with his girlfriend and her family when his cell phone went off. His brother Fred was with some Mexican associates in South L.A. and was calling to tell Kelly to get down to Norfolk, Va., right away. A large package of cocaine was waiting for him.

Fred and Kelly had been shipping thousands of pounds of marijuana from Los Angeles to Baltimore in hollowed-out reels of electrical cable for months now, but this was a potentially more lucrative opportunity. "He told me in street slang to pick up 15 to 20 units in Norfolk," Kelly Brooks testified in federal court in 2005. "Units" meant kilos, Kelly stated, and the code word for cocaine was "Nissan."

Within hours, Kelly was headed down I-95 to Norfolk, where he met a man named "Chuy"-Jose Jesus Gutierrez-in a minivan in the parking lot of a motel. Chuy was not ready with the cocaine, so Kelly booked a room and rested until Chuy returned, this time in a pickup truck, with a Hispanic female. Chuy gave Kelly a gym bag full of cocaine, which Kelly placed in his trunk, and they followed each other back to Baltimore, to wait for Fred Brooks, who by then was on a plane from Los Angeles.

Once they neared Baltimore, Kelly directed Chuy and his female companion to the Fairfield Inn at Route 175 and U.S. 1, in Odenton, adjacent to Fort Meade. He assured Chuy that his brother Fred would be by in the morning with a substantial amount of money, "and that under no circumstances would [Chuy] be in town waiting more than a day for the balance." Kelly then took the cocaine-wrapped in vacuum-sealed plastic packages with black lettering that read soto-to a stash house at 30th Street and Guilford Avenue, in Baltimore.

About 10 days later, Chuy returned to Odenton and met Kelly at a woodworking shop Kelly rented behind what is now a tattoo parlor at 1588 Annapolis Road, also known as Route 175. He was driving the same pickup truck. "My brother [Fred] used [the woodworking shop] as a place to manufacture containers for drug smuggling," Kelly testified.

Chuy pulled the pickup into the shop and cranked down a spare tire from beneath the truck bed. They cut it open and removed 10 more kilos of cocaine marked soto. But the Brooks brothers wanted more. "We wanted to be in the 50- to 100-unit range . . . every two weeks," Kelly testified.

Chuy was skeptical. "He found it hard to believe that we could transport those amounts [of cocaine] safely from California to Baltimore," Kelly stated. Fred Brooks had handled larger amounts of drugs in the past, however, and Kelly was one of his most trusted employees. A 12th-grade dropout from Baltimore City College with a GED, Kelly was not as accomplished as his brother Fred, who had both attended college and done time in federal prison, but Kelly had skills to go with his 1991 assault conviction and his '99 conviction for conspiracy to distribute cocaine.

Kelly told the jury that he dealt drugs before Fred did. The brothers had a cousin that was a midlevel heroin dealer in Baltimore in the 1980s, Kelly testified, so at age 14 he would go to his cousin's house before school and package heroin. When he branched into dealing marijuana, cocaine, and ecstasy-drugs he obtained from Fred-he was promoted to running the various businesses the brothers established to conceal their drug money. Kelly testified that he ran several businesses with drug proceeds: a beauty-supply company, a hair salon, a DJ service called Cold Sounds, and an electronics company, In Phase LLC, in which he invested $200,000. Kelly also worked in freight transportation, with Hogan Brothers and Safeway Delivery Service. He was dependable.

In February 2003, Kelly Brooks flew to Los Angeles to meet with Chuy's boss Laurencio "Lalo" Gonzalez. They met at the Real Deal Car Wash in South L.A. owned by Jose "Chato" Mendoza and Raul "Ra-Ra" Del Real. (The car wash at 3113 Maple St. was in a densely populated Hispanic neighborhood a few miles south of Los Angeles City Hall, less than six blocks from George Torres' flagship Numero Uno market.)

Up until that point, the group had been transporting cocaine from Los Angeles to Baltimore in spare tires, hidden under sport-utility vehicles driven by two women, with Chuy following in a separate vehicle. Often the couriers would switch vehicles in Oklahoma or Wisconsin to avoid traveling with California tags.

"Chato was speaking to Lalo about that we had a pretty ingenious way of transporting narcotics," Kelly testified, referring to the false electrical cable reels he built in his Odenton wood shop for shipping marijuana. The Brooks brothers proposed filling the reels with cocaine in L.A., sealing them with industrial sealant, and shipping them back and forth cross-country via freight company.

Kelly called Fred, who was in Baltimore, to get assurances that they could move 100 kilos of coke every two weeks. The meeting with the Mexicans in L.A. went well, Kelly testified, and afterward Chato told Kelly that the group, which received its cocaine from the Tijuana cartel, had such faith in the Brooks brothers that they were considering how to fill a trailer with 1,500 kilos and ship it to Baltimore.

"Now that we were in the area, they were also servicing people in Virginia and in Washington, D.C., and they needed to get a larger amount on the East Coast," Kelly stated.

Jason Getzes was expecting to get laid off from his job at the Philadelphia Electrical Co. and he needed money to launch a new career as a real-estate investor. In December 2002, he contacted his old prison mate Fred Brooks.

Getzes and Brooks had done federal time together at Fort Dix federal prison in the late 1990s, but whereas Brooks had been a successful drug dealer in Baltimore before going to jail, Getzes, according to court records, had been alternating between classes at Penn State University and working at DuPont when he was busted in 1996 for trying to manufacture ecstasy for a party.

Getting a job when he was released from federal prison in 1998 had been hard enough. So now, fearing a layoff from his $35,000-a-year job, Getzes looked to Brooks for a loan.

But Fred Brooks had other plans for Getzes, a white guy in his early thirties from suburban Philadelphia who could be trusted with large quantities of drugs and money. Brooks proposed that Getzes join his drug conspiracy and relocate to L.A., to oversee packaging and shipment of large quantities of marijuana, at a salary of $3,000 a week.

Brooks promised Getzes he would pay for an apartment and a storage facility, provide him with a GMC Yukon, and set him up with the contacts in L.A. to begin working. When Getzes got to Los Angeles in January 2003, he found a structure of management and labor already in place. He would team up with Hispanic workers from the same South L.A. neighborhood where George Torres' Numero Uno market had flourished for decades; some of them worked for Torres' grocery business. Once there, Getzes would report to "Chato" Mendoza, a business partner of "Ra-Ra" Del Real.

Usually, according to search-warrant affidavits, Ra-Ra and Chato would store their drugs and money at their girlfriends' or mothers' houses, but their principal staging area for drug transactions was the Real Deal Car Wash.

Kelly Brooks soon arrived in Los Angeles and showed Getzes how to package the large shipments of marijuana that Fred Brooks was buying from Chato and Ra-Ra at the time. Getzes, testifying in federal court in 2005, said that they would cut 150-pound blocks of marijuana into 30-pound parcels; wrap them with alternating layers of plastic and dryer sheets, to mask the smell from drug-sniffing dogs; seal them in plastic with Seal-a-Meal machines from the supermarket; and stuff them into hollowed-out reels of electrical cable. They placed the reels into boxes, drove the boxes to Staples, and used the office-supply chain's in-house United Parcel Service pickup system to send the drugs to Baltimore.

Once Kelly went back to Baltimore, Ra-Ra's laborers, including Victor "Picachu" Jimenes, and Ra-Ra's brother Albert Del Real, would come to Getzes' Santa Monica apartment to meet him, and the group would go to a U-Haul storage facility Getzes had rented on Pico Boulevard, which runs from the Pacific Ocean through downtown L.A. They used a white panel truck with hidden compartments to conceal tools and ledgers.

At first, the money for the marijuana came from Baltimore in hollowed-out computer hard drives, but eventually the cable reels came back from Baltimore filled with cash. In the meantime, Fred and Kelly Brooks had also begun to accept courier shipments of cocaine from Ra-Ra and Chato. In May 2003, however, police in Nashville, Tenn., stopped an SUV and searched underneath, discovering 20 kilos packed into an oversized spare tire. Lalo had paid the couriers who were arrested $50,000 to keep their mouths shut. Still, the timing was right to switch up the routine.

By then, Kelly, an electronics enthusiast, had designed false electrical cabinets that looked like concert equipment, to ship even larger amounts of drugs. They also upgraded their packaging, moving to an industrial-sized sealing machine called a "Super Mutt."

Fred Brooks flew to California to supervise the transition, and the whole crew-Kelly Brooks, Getzes, Chato, Ra-Ra, and Picachu-had dinner at the Pacific Dining Car, a vintage steak joint less than a block from the Drug Enforcement Agency task force offices in L.A., to discuss the plan, according to Getzes' federal court testimony in 2005. Afterward, Fred instructed Getzes on how to package the cocaine and ship it inside the electrical cabinets. He wanted extra layers of packaging, Getzes testified, and also suggested a new shipment method: Forward Air, a ground-freight company located near Los Angeles International Airport, in El Segundo. The money would come back the same way but via a different company, Airway Express.

Once at Forward Air, employees of the freight company would use a forklift to hoist the electrical boxes from the truck, put them on a pallet, and wrap them with shipping wrap. (Though it is unclear whether Fred Brooks had accomplices at these legitimate shipping companies, in a letter to City Paper he contends that in his career he has used various methods of shipping drugs, including paying off baggage handlers at airports and employees at FedEx. "You name it, I did it," Brooks writes. "Planes, cargo boats, FedEx, cruise ships.")

Soon, Getzes was shipping 400 pounds of marijuana and 40 kilos of cocaine per month using the electrical cabinets-all headed to Fred Brooks and his East Coast customers.

Then, in August 2003, something went wrong. Getzes received a call early in the morning on Aug. 20 from one of Brooks' Baltimore-area associates known as "Pus Boy," who said there was a problem back East. Pus Boy told Getzes to dispose of all documents, vacate his Santa Monica apartment, and await further instructions. Getzes had just sent two shipments totaling over 60 kilos of cocaine to Brooks and was expecting the return shipment of money, so naturally he was concerned.

Soon Getzes' cell phone also was blowing up with calls from Chato, who was wondering when the money shipment would arrive. Getzes remained in the dark for much of the day, wondering about the money, wondering about this mysterious problem Pus Boy had alluded to. Later that afternoon, Getzes reached Pus Boy on his cell phone and learned that federal authorities executed search warrants at both Fred and Kelly Brooks' houses, and that Fred was being charged with a probation violation. (That was was only partially true. In reality, Fred was being held on charges of conspiracy to distribute cocaine.) Getzes reported what he knew to Chato, who seemed relieved to be told it was just a probation violation, and went to meet the drug crew in person to see if the money Fred was supposed to have sent had arrived.

That night, Getzes climbed into the panel truck with Chato, Ra-Ra, Picachu, and another associate and drove to the airport, where they picked up the electrical boxes Fred Brooks had sent from Baltimore. However, when they got back to the Real Deal Carwash in South L.A., posted lookouts in the parking lot, and unloaded the boxes from the truck, there was no money. "Mr. Mendoza was frustrated," Getzes later testified. "Mr. Del Real was agitated to the point where he was making accusations that Fred Brooks had kept the money and tried to trick him. He was so agitated spit was flying from his mouth."

Though Getzes didn't know exactly what was going on, he kept his wits and tried to dissuade Ra-Ra from sending people to Brooks' home looking for him: "I explained I knew Fred to be a drug dealer, but not a thief. He was interested in business, not in a hijack or double cross."

Ra-Ra was not easily satisfied. "He told me to put my money where my mouth was to prove to them that Fred was in legal trouble and that he didn't hijack them," Getzes testified in 2005. At that point, he gave out the Brooks brothers' real names-until then they had been known simply as Kelly and Dougie-so that a Los Angeles-area lawyer could run a background check.

The next day, Aug. 21, Getzes met in person with Lalo, the boss of the crew, and persuaded him that he was on the level. The meeting was tense at first, Getzes testified in 2005, but eventually everyone relaxed, then went for Thai food on Wilshire Boulevard in Santa Monica and afterward walked across the street to check out an antique car showroom, as Lalo was a collector of vintage lowriders.

Later that night, Fred Brooks, knowing that he was out of the game for good, that there would be no chance of making up for the disappeared money, and that Del Real and the others were still suspicious of a ripoff, let Getzes know that he should get out of town immediately and destroy any remaining evidence of drug trafficking.

Somewhat rattled but unharmed, Getzes flew back East to find out what had really happened.

Veteran U.S. Customs agent David Albrecht had been on to Fred Brooks since 2001, after receiving information from a source in the Caribbean that Brooks' cell-phone number was showing up on surveillance of a place associated with drug smuggling. The Mexicans were not Brooks' only suppliers.

By August 2003, based on the investigation he had built from that tip, Albrecht had obtained a wiretap order for Brooks' phone and was getting ready to set it up when he discovered that Brooks and his brother Kelly were dealing kilos of cocaine out of the Hampton Inn at Arundel Mills, thanks to task force agents stumbling across the brothers while they were eating at the Chick-fil-A near the mall.

With Thurgood Marshall BWI Airport less than five miles away, and convenient exits for the Baltimore-Washington Parkway and Route 100 right in the mall parking lot-not to mention Kelly Brooks' woodworking shop and storage facility just minutes away in Odenton-the Brooks brothers had quite a hands-on operation going.

Albrecht's crew set up surveillance and followed one of Brooks' customers from the Hampton Inn; after an exchange down the line with a second party, Baltimore police arrested a suspect with of a kilo of cocaine with the telltale markings soto, indicating it came from the same Tijuana cartel that had been supplying Brooks for much of 2003.

On Aug. 18, 2003, Albrecht found out from a hotel manager that the Brooks brothers had checked in again, and, he testified in 2005, "unfortunately, or fortunately for everybody-unfortunately for my wiretap-we're not allowed to let drugs go on the street, so we had to take action."

Task force agents followed Kelly to the parking lot of a Bennigan's in Woodlawn, where they watched him hand a kilo of coke to a customer, and followed Fred to the storage facility on Annapolis Road, then to a stash house he kept at 5107 Roland Ave., just blocks from the Gilman School in well-to-do Roland Park.

After arresting Fred Brooks, the agents found $700,000 in black bags back at the hotel room, another $136,000 in the trunk of his Mercedes, and a cache of drugs at both the hotel room and the Roland Avenue apartment, where Brooks used a rear entrance off a quiet street and kept supplies for cooking up crack.

Brooks agreed to cooperate with the investigation "almost immediately," Albrecht testified in 2005, and spent the next couple of weeks after his '03 arrest making a series of telephone calls-50 in all-to various customers and suppliers all over the world. Law enforcers monitored those calls, including calls to the Mexicans in L.A., to arrange the meeting at Hooters between Brooks and Lalo, who, along with Chuy, Chato, Ra-Ra, and Picachu, was now a target of a bicoastal investigation. (After the meeting at Hooters, the Mexicans would never see or hear from Fred Brooks again until he faced them in court in 2005. Search-warrant affidavits on file in federal court in Los Angeles show the Mexicans continued their drug-dealing activities under surveillance well into '04, until they were arrested.)

In fact, after Brooks had been out of the picture for more than a year, Lalo was unfazed when drug cops showed up in October 2004 at the apartment he rented behind his parents' house on Otis Avenue in South Gate, a small, mostly Hispanic suburb of Los Angeles known for its corruption and drug trafficking. That is, until police executing a search warrant came across court records and personal background information for Fred Brooks and Jason Getzes, sitting in plain view on the kitchen table. At that point Lalo slumped down in his chair and let out a heavy sigh, according to an agent who testified at the '05 trial for Lalo and Chuy.

"Ra-Ra" Del Real, "Chato" Mendoza, and the other co-conspirators pleaded guilty, forgoing a trial. Del Real agreed to testify against George Torres, who has been indicted in Los Angeles on a variety of racketeering charges, including conspiracy to murder Ignacio Meza, among others. Picachu Jimenes fled and was a fugitive until recently, when he turned up in Ohio under an assumed name, serving time in a county jail for drug-related offenses. (Law enforcement sources also are investigating the disappearance of Meza, further raising the significance of Del Real's role in the case.)

As for Getzes, after the moneyless containers arrived in Los Angeles, he returned to his parents' house in Philadelphia, and a few days later took a train to Baltimore, where he met with Fred Brooks, on Aug. 26, 2003, in a parking lot next door to the Knight's Inn on Baltimore National Pike in Catonsville. They drove around in Brooks' truck, and Getzes told Brooks what had happened in Los Angeles. Unbeknownst to Getzes, however, Brooks had worked with the feds to set up the ruse of the shipment of electrical boxes containing not cash but worthless newspaper and was now wearing a wire. (Getzes later testified he never would have gone to such a meeting had he known Brooks was arrested on new drug charges.)

By the time the two men finished their talk, they were in an Embassy Suites parking lot, Getzes testified: "We got out of the truck, and at that time [Brooks] told me that he had recorded the conversation, that he had a new narcotics charge, that the government knew all about me, and that I basically needed to cooperate to help myself and him."

A minute later, police arrested Jason Getzes. After cooperating at the trial for Lalo and Chuy in 2005, he's serving a reduced seven-year sentence in federal prison.

In letters to City Paper from prison Brooks contends he was stuck between a rock and a hard place. If he did not cooperate with the government and go along with the deception that would allow Getzes to get away from the Mexicans, then his friend would have been killed. "I didn't cooperate to save myself," he writes. "I did it because millions of dollars was missing. How would I face myself when I thought about the lives of my friends I could have saved?"

Now, at age 40, Fred Brooks worries about his well-being. One could wonder if he would do it all any differently. "I never took into account the `chain reaction' of events that would occur," Brooks writes. "I never felt anyone else's sense of loss, until I looked back at all my losses along the way. I would say that 95 percent of the people in prison are just sorry they got caught. But I am sorry that my life went this way."

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